Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Mind Whirls and Swirls

First, thank you all for your comments on my last post.  I appreciate them!  And now for the bits whirling and swirling in my brain today...

I finally got a hold of my parents last night to find out what the surgon said.  A little after 7 pm, they called me back.  By that time I was worried - had something happened to them or my Grammie?  Nope.  The surgeon had been running late for their appointment and then it took awhile, and then they went for dinner.  They don't believe in leaving the cellphone on, and in all fairness to them, they probably needed a little down time before talking to me.

The news, while cancer, had seemed to be somewhat cheery.  Like this would not be all that bad, despite the C-word.  I even had read on line that this had a huge survival rate and some doctors don't even think of it as cancer but as "pre-cancer."  Well, that would be for those lucky folks who have the cribiform version - not the "comedo" version of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) that has already grown to 5 cm, like my Mom.  The good news is that the "in situ" means it hasn't spread outside the duct and that is still true.  The other good news is that for that particular biopsy it did not show that the cancer was the kind that likes to spread.  And also while the survival rate isn't as high as the 96-98% we saw on line, it's still pretty good at 86-90%.

The bad news? Well, the surgeon said that the biopsy was done in the middle of the cancer and if he had to guess there were parts of it that would have said that it was the spreading kind.  His guess was that it had been there several months but less than a year since it hadn't shown up on last year's mammogram.  And he said that he didn't think a lumpectomy was a good idea.  The surgeon said that he wants to remove her entire breast, so radiation is off the table because as he put it there won't be any tissue left to radiate.  During the surgery, they're also going to take the 4 major lymph nodes out of her armpit and then test them to see if there is cancerous material in them.  If no cancer (which if I remember this right, the doctor thought that there wouldn't be any but that it was still about 50/50 chance), then no chemo.  If cancerous material is found in the lymph nodes, then chemo would be needed.  Mom will also need reconstructive surgery after the removal to prevent back and muscle problems from essentially being lop sided afterwards, so they're trying to get her in to see that surgeon this week so he and the oncology surgeon can schedule her surgery together. 

The other bad news was that for whatever reason, she didn't have the right hormone receptor test results. Instead of ++-+, she had --+-.  That means that the hormone treatment they can use to slow or halt the growth of the DISC in most women won't work on Mom.  So, the surgeon hopes to have this all removed before Christmas. 

The good news though is that the surgeon seems like he knows a ton, my parents liked him and feel comfortable with him, and the office staff was great.  So, to go through all this, she's in good hands with people who know what they're doing.  And besides, she's going to be okay.  It's just going to be a lot to go through. 

I think I was thrown by the mention of chemo and no radiation since that is the opposite of what we were expecting based on her appointment on Friday.  Of course, they were giving her the general counseling information that applies to the majority of DCIS patients, and the surgeon was dealing with what is specific to her.  And there's still a possibility that she won't need chemo either.  I just thought it was going to be less threatening than it was.  A little bit of seeing the glass fuller than it may have been.  But, I'd rather they be more aggressive in treatment than not aggressive enough.

After the call I was stressed beyond compare.  Dad sounded tired and tense, but he said he was okay.  Mom said the same.  It's a lot to asorb.  The girls unfortunately decided to run wild and be terrible listeners, both fully missing out on earning their red token.  Bed time was a nightmare.  They probably were trying to make me laugh or get attention or something, but it was making me nuts.  I stuck to the routine, sang the night time songs through their being super silly while the lights were out, and then left the room.  They opened the door and were being super loud - screaming loud.  So I slammed it shut.  They were quiet from that point forward, although Ladybug decided to pull her comforter out into the living room and sing songs in front of the Christmas tree that I had left lit for Mr. Darcy (who worked late - until 1 am - on a project deadline).  I had to make her go back to bed and turned off the tree.  (Looking back at it through less stressed eyes, that was pretty cute...)  She was in the living room a few minutes later, but I ignored her at that point.

This morning I woke up stressed out and my back was like a brick wall (it's where I carry my stress).  Today is officially Day 1 of my Princess 1/2 Marathon Training regime and it was supposed to be the cross-training day - I can cross train with anything not weight bearing.  Swim, bike, pilates, yoga type stuff.  I fully intended to ride my bike.  But due to oversleeping and needing to talk about things with Mr. Darcy, the family got out the door much later than they should have been.  I needed to relax too.  So, I used my cross-training day to do 1/2 an hour of pilates followed by 1/2 an hour of yoga.  As irony would have it, my most recent taping of Namaste Yoga was "Yoga for Distance Runners."  So that is what I did, and it was awesome.  I felt a lot better afterwards, although I can feel the stress seeping back in.

At this point, I just want the cancer out of my mother.  I think I'll feel better once we know exactly when her surgery is going to be.  Then we can figure out everything from there.  The knowing while not knowing is what makes us crazy, isn't it?  I know I need to let go and let God take over since he's much better at the omniscient thing than I am.  But boy it's hard when you know that you're not in control.

Tommorrow is a 45 minute run.  For once, I am really looking forward to the run.  And I'm even tempted to try to charge up my iPod Shuffle and use it for the run tomorrow - in one ear only, of course - so I really can leave everything behind on the run.  I have a funny feeling that the 1/2 Marathon training may be the only thing to help me keep my sanity until this is all over.  And Team in Training kicks in during the last month of the 1/2 Marathon training, so that will be good too.  I'm so glad I have my training! 

It's funny with triathlon and half marathons, we train to endure the distance and yet the training also helps us to just endure.

Not sure if I mentioned (other than in passing) that I am doing St. Anthony's with Team in Training.  As you all know from reading my blog, I hate cancer and love life!  If you'd like to support my hatred for cancer and express some of your own hatred for cancer as well as your love for life, please donate in support of my Team in Training efforts!  You can donate online at http://pages.teamintraining.org/cfl/anttry10/kmartinmou or email me and I'll give you an address that you can send a check to me (made out to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, of course).  No donation is too small!


  1. Kate.... I love you and will be praying for your mom every day. God bless you,and her, and your family. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

  2. I had a hard time getting through this one, I cant even image what you are are going through. My thoughts and prays go out to your family.

  3. Keep strong. (and I'll be at StA too - Long Island Chapter)