breast cancer, life, Uncategorized

Expectations versus Reality

I met the radiation oncologist, Dr. D, today. Dr. D was very forthcoming and no nonsense. I liked him. I appreciated his manner. Also, he works closely with my breast surgeon. I like having a close knit medical team that works together on my behalf.

Radiation prework starts tomorrow. I have to go in for mapping. Apparently, they’re going to do a limited CT scan of my chest in order to set the radiation plan specifically to my needs. Part of me was a little disappointed. I guess I was hoping someone would say radiation isn’t necessary, which was a stupid thing to hope. The one thing I DO NOT WANT to happen tomorrow is for anything unexpected to show up on the CT scan. DO NOT WANT. CANNOT HANDLE MORE SURPRISES.

Dr. D insinuated it was possible that before chemo, more of my lymph nodes might have been involved. I didn’t like that insinuation. Sure, maybe he’s right, but I didn’t need to hear that or have that put in my head. Dr. O and Dr. H never thought the cancer was in my lymph nodes, and yes, it was, but I’d like to believe it was only in those two sentinel nodes, and those nodes did their job. They trapped the cancer and kept it. The cancer in them was the ER+, not the HER2. I guess that’s why I want to believe the cancer wasn’t in more nodes.


The radiation schedule is for 28 sessions starting next week. I’m glad it’s starting quickly. I didn’t want there to be a gap. I just want to get this over with and done. I want the five and a half weeks of this treatment to go quickly. I want to luck out and have limited skin reactions and just be done.

After I saw Dr. D, I saw Dr. H, my breast surgeon. She was pleased by how I’m healing. I told her I’m having a lot more pain in my chest since the expander fill on Wednesday. My chest muscle hurts. My skin hurts. The expanders are full…completely full, so that’s why I’m experiencing discomfort. Seriously, it’s so uncomfortable right now. I’m so uncomfortable right now. I also told her there is a spot under my right arm that constantly feels like it’s burning. She looked at it and believes it’s a nerve thing. She said if it’s not better in a few months, we’ll revisit it and consider doing something to help it.

The one thing Dr. H told me that I felt was good news was something A and I had talked about since my appointment with Dr. O last Friday. There was a complete pathological response to TCHP. There was no HER2 cancer left behind at all anywhere. Dr. H said it’s good to know there was a complete response…that the tough chemo regiment was worth the misery. She’s right. It was. I just wish they’d found the ER+ cancer during the biopsy so I could have been in treatment for it, too. But, it wasn’t. So, it is what it is.

As much as I wanted to go back to work on the 29th, I’m not. Between the surgical pain I’m still experiencing and beginning radiation, I feel like I need the time. Dr. H highly suggested I take the time I’d scheduled to be on leave instead of returning early and using the time to truly heal and gain some more stamina. She guessed (correctly) that I’m struggling some with post surgical fatigue. I am. She also lifted most of the restrictions on my left arm and wants me to start using it more while watching it closely for signs of lymphadema. So, I’m going to work on my left arm more.

My expectations for this surgery, this journey are not matching reality, and that’s hard for me to admit. I have to get over it, though.


2 thoughts on “Expectations versus Reality”

  1. The expanders are an awful torture device. I promise it feels better when they are replaced with implants. I always pictured them to look like square shrink wrapped meat with the pokey sides sticking out. The pain in your arm is normal. It will go away eventually. Your nerves are trying to figure out what the heck just happened to them. You are right about the stage where you might feel phantom boob/nipple pain. It’s the strangest sensation ever. Hugs!!! Good luck on everything today!


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