Laura’s Story

Site created on February 20, 2019

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Newest Update

Journal entry by Laura Post

It’s been a while since my last update. I finished my 16th chemotherapy treatment last Thursday. I really love my oncologist, Dr. Pruitt and his team at Harrington. The nurses and everybody at the HCC have been so wonderful. I don’t know how I’d get through this without them. I am already missing my chemo nurse, Karen. She always made treatment day so much better by making me smile and laugh discussing the latest Bachelor in Paradise episode or taking Snapchat selfies.  It’s been seven months since I was diagnosed. This chemo, Taxol, as opposed to the Adriamyacin I had the first couple months, has thankfully been much better as far as side effects. I’ve had some neuropathy (numbness and tingling) in my fingers and especially my toes, I’ve had ringing in my ears, an extremely dry mouth, I can’t taste any food or drinks, and I feel extremely tired all the time.  I have been trying to go once or twice a week to a water class to build my energy level up. I really enjoy the class although it makes me tired! Water feels so good to my body and soul. I’ve also been seeing a counselor at the Cancer Center. She helps me deal with all the emotions I have and I go to support group meetings.  I’m doing all of this to try to help myself. I’m doing the best I can, although I still have good days and bad. My hair is also finally growing!  Hopefully I won’t lose anymore.  I am excited and nervous about it. I have about 1/4 inch of hair and it is coming in mostly white. It’s too early to tell whether it’s going to be curly or straight yet though. My eyelashes and eyebrows have not grown back yet, I think it takes a little longer for those. I got to shave my legs a few days ago and I was so happy! I hope it all grows back! I am just thankful it’s growing. I can’t wait until I don’t have to wear a cap anymore. 

I had an MRI a couple days ago, and met with the surgeon yesterday. He and his team at Amarillo Surgical Group seem very nice. Although there was a good response to the chemo, and the tumor shrank considerably, there was not a complete response. The MRI showed about 1 cm of disease (Cancer) left and the doctor said I have a significant risk of residual microscopic disease. They will be doing a modified radical mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection to remove the entire breast and the level I and II lymph nodes on Friday, Oct. 4th (See photo below). They will not do a bilateral mastectomy (there is no evidence of cancer in the other breast— it would have been my preference though to have taken it and done reconstruction on both for symmetry purposes) or immediate breast reconstruction (it will be about a year) as my chances of having complications (such as infection or blood clots) and delaying radiation treatment would be doubled. Because the type of Cancer I have, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, is aggressive, they want to do surgery and start radiation as soon as possible without any delays. I have a 50/50 chance of permanent numbness in my upper arm and underneath but they think it won’t be a problem unless it starts burning or stinging.  They did say that the risk of nerve injury that affects shoulder strength  almost never happens with the doctor that I have, Dr. Lary. And, thankfully, no chest muscle is being removed. After the surgery, I also have a 40% lifelong risk for a delayed complication called Lymphedema. In my case, lymphedema is a swelling of the arm/hand of lymph fluid due to surgical removal of the lymph nodes. There is no cure for it, but it can be managed.  I’ve already been measured for a compression sleeve and will start exercises right after surgery to try to prevent it. I will also be fit for a prosthetic. As far as I know right now, after surgery, I will have at least 25 radiation treatments. That’s Monday-Friday five days a week. Anyway, they are scheduling me to meet with the radiation doctor and will be calling me soon to tell me when that appointment is. The oncologist told me a few weeks ago that I may also have to continue chemo, but in the pill form. I will know more about that  after surgery. I believe they are waiting to see how much residual cancer is there. They said they would be able to give me more information about my cure rate after surgery. They also said that the surgery will not completely make my risk of local recurrence zero.

They told me they were going to be very optimistic, but it doesn’t feel like the news I got was very optimistic. If I had to have this type of surgery, I would’ve preferred to be able to have reconstruction done immediately. I’m sure everything will be okay eventually, but right now I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. I had resigned myself to getting a bilateral mastectomy and making myself feel better by thinking that I would get reconstruction at the same time (it was a possibility). And, I could’ve done that if not for the possible risks involved and the possibility of delaying more treatment.  In my mind, I know that getting through this and being alive is my goal, but I can’t help but think of the physical appearance and aspects of this whole thing. This is very emotionally hard for me. Just having a lumpectomy and radiation is not an option. Believe me, I asked. I would not survive. 

A while back I told you all about how, when I still lived in Iowa, they did a sonogram of my thyroid and found lesions and calcifications on both sides. They recommended to just watch it and do another sonogram in a year. Dr. Lary wants to do another one on the 27th of this month, the day I pre-register for surgery, I guess to see if there are any changes so maybe they can remove it at the same time they do surgery (if it is Cancer?) I will keep you updated when I hear any news about that.

I want to tell those of you that have been praying for me, thank you. To my friends and family that have put money into my Go Fund Me account, thank you. I’m sorry that I haven’t been in the frame of mind or physically able to reach out to every individual person to say thank you, but trust me when I tell you that the prayers and financial support have been a blessing to me, and I appreciate you all from the bottom of my heart for the support you have given me and continue to give me through this difficult journey. Thank you for checking up on me and for the phone calls, visits, cards, flowers, gifts, and letters. You don’t know how much it means to me. Thank you for not forgetting me and knowing that this is a daily struggle and will be for a little while longer. I still have a little way to go to get through this, but I’m hoping and praying by this time next year I will be at work, teaching again and living life as close to normal as possible.  
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