Journal

Journal entry by Kristine Pollard

Happy Monday, Kris again..
Mom just got out of a quick surgery to have an area of her mastectomy redone. Dr Chetta was unhappy with how a small section was healing so he essentially removed the dying skin and closed the area again. The intent is for the area to restart the healing process and hopefully react better this time around. He chose not to remove her drain and repositioned it as a precautionary measure (sorry, mom). He instructed that she will continue on antibiotics and will most likely need a day or two back on her pain pills. He wants to see her again on Thursday of this week to check on how the new healing is going. Another smooth surgery in the books! One step closer to the end of this.

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

I took my last muscle relaxer Friday night before bed and my last Rx strength ibuprofen at about 4am Saturday morning after finding myself still sitting in the recliner (my bed for the last two weeks) staring at the Christmas tree at that hour.  I knew it would mean I would go to sleep but also would miss my share group so I texted the girls and tossed the pill back and was asleep within 30 minutes.  And since that time I am only taking my iron supplements and an antibiotic.  And last night.....I slept in my bed.  It's hard to get up by myself but Bill is a fabulous caretaker and checks on me frequently and pulls me up when I need help.  But with a ton of pillows I finally got some sleep and I'm off all the drugs just in time to go tomorrow for more ouchies.

We have to be at the outpatient surgery center at 6am for surgery at 7:30.  Dr Chetta will remove that section of dying skin on my incision near my arm pit and re-close it.  His work should only take about an hour but they will use a general anesthesia and as we know, I wake up sloooooooowly so we are hoping to be out of there and on our way home by lunch.

Then next Wednesday Dec 12, I will meet with my Medical Oncologist, Dr. VanDeusen for the first time to get his thoughts on how to tackle this from here, this is where we will decide if chemo comes first but we do expect it as I shared last week.  On Thursday Dec 13, I will see Dr Bazan, radiation oncologist, again to do a CT simulation to start building the plan for the radiation phase.  We met with him a couple months ago and while we liked him, we hoped not to see him again.  And then we will end that week proudly watching Kristine graduate with her Finance degree from Ohio University.

#Godsgotus  #onestepatatime  #gratefulforhope  #adventseason  #bodyofChristdrivesus

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

First we met with Dr Carson who shared the following pathology summary with us:
  • the pre-op "dye" led him to 2 sentinel lymph nodes which were removed and tested.  One of them had a 9 mm cancer in it and the other had none.  So he removed 18 more to send for testing.
  • there were two cancerous tumors in the left breast.  One was 4.6 cm and the other was 2.5 cm.  The margins (edges) of both of these tumors were clear.  This is good and means we have reason to believe by removing them we got it all.
  • of the 18 additional lymph nodes removed one more of them was cancerous.  So by the two total being involved that means the cancer had hit the highway and was on it's way to other places but both of those bad nodes were considered grade 1 which means they are NOT aggressive which is also good.  
  • And we confirmed again that my cancer is estrogen fed 
All that means that while we think they got it all there is a chance the little booger is trying to get to other areas and chemo might make sense to be sure we are more aggressive than it is.   And because it was in the lymphs and the tumors were so large likely we will also want to do radiation to make sure there are no remnants in the chest wall or other areas near this original campsite.  BUT, Dr Carson is the surgeon and the surgery is over and by all accounts completely successful so he will hand me off to a medical oncologist to oversee these next treatments.  It is possible that the medical oncologist will see it differently but Dr Carson is very experienced so we expect he is a good predictor of our future.   This was the first time that when asked, our doctors told us we probably need to cancel a cruise we have planned for February.  The news shook Bill and I.  I cried while we waited to meet with Dr Chetta.

Next we met with Dr Chetta who noted one little area of skin at the edge of my incision that concerned him because it looks like it is dying and rather than wait and end up with an open wound in a week or so, we will do an outpatient surgery on Monday to cut the dead stuff out and re-close the incision.  Sending a message to all cells in my body - we ain't messing around.  You either cooperate and come along or we will kick you out.  Ask left breast if you don't believe me.  :-)   Then he removed only one of the drains because they don't like to take them both at once so that there is a back up plan if removing one causes excess fluid.  Drain #2 will come out Monday as part of the outpatient surgery.  Before Dr Chetta came in though a wonderful nurse came in while I was still in meltdown mode.  She asked how I was doing and I said fine (cause physically things are exactly as they told me they would be) and she said then why are you crying.  Bill told her Dr Carson had disappointed us and that is when she pushed back from the computer and started telling me about her "journey" and how every time she went to an appointment after she got her diagnosis God would fill her mind with the song, "Lord, don't move that mountain" and she recited several lines of it.  God just keeps sending the right people at the right time to encourage and uplift us.  I was reminded in this moment that I was this far down this road because i found a CYST!!!!  If not for this cyst, we may not be this far along this quickly because I was not due for another mammogram for months (if I stayed on time).  So.......today sucked.  The news was disappointing.  A trip with my boyfriend/husband is getting canceled.  But I am still standing.  I am surrounded by the love and support of hundreds.  My oldest daughter is graduating from college in two weeks and already has a job and my baby is halfway through her second year and thriving with friends and good grades.  This mountain ain't moving but we can count on the strength to climb over it.  

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

So tomorrow we have our post op appointments with my oncology surgeon (Dr Carson)  and plastic surgeon (Dr Chetta).  These are a week later than normal because of the Thanksgiving holiday and because of that and the amount of fluid being collected in my drains totaling about 22 cc per day I am hoping we can get them both out tomorrow.   They are annoying and part of what makes it difficult to sleep.  Anyway, some catch up since Friday......

When we emptied the drains Sunday morning we noted that one was down over 30cc from the night before.   That was a possible sign something was blocked so we contacted Dr Carson who wasn’t overly concerned and told us to watch for swelling or redness and fever and to call again if that happened.  Then Sunday afternoon Dr Carson called us.  He said he was in the office and saw that my pathology reports were there so he read them and called.   I actually had two cancerous tumors (one about 1 in in length and the other about 1.5 inches). Both were of course removed as part of the mastectomy. He did advise though that the edges of both tumors were clear which tells him that all the bad stuff was removed with the tumors.   He removed approximately 18-20 lymph nodes and only the leading two were found to be cancerous.   The others were clean.   He considered all that pretty good news and said we would talk about next steps during my post op. So we look forward to the discussion tomorrow. 

Then Sunday evening when we emptied drains the fluid levels were again way low and things were starting to swell in my back and throughout the course of the day I was losing mobility in my left arm.   I could not lift that arm without help and my shoulder was painful to touch so we contacted Dr Carson (again) and he told us to go to ER at The James and he would let Dr Chetta know we were coming because apparently after surgery is done my lead/discharging surgeon is plastics.  So we went downtown and they put me in some tighter bandages and a surgical bra to help force fluid into drains or to be absorbed by my body and sent us home because there were no signs of infection.  

By Monday night my arm was improving and now it is definitely much better.  I also started weening myself off all the pain meds so I could stay awake more.    Until Tuesday when I was awake most of the day, I would be lucky to stay awake for longer than an hour or so in each stretch.  

Today was a great day.  Stayed awake the whole day and finally getting rid of the pain med fog as we kick those pills to the curb.   Someone special brought soup and brownies for dinner and I’m not sure if I have mentioned it before but there is a card arriving almost everyday with a single statement of encouragement and no name or return address.   They say things like you are brave, you are kind and there is no signature or it says “friends of Lisa”.   It’s pretty cool. The cards and notes and texts have been overwhelming.   We have them all on the mantle to remind us we aren't alone.  

I'm getting sleepy now so I will sign off before I say something crazy but we’d appreciate thoughts and prayers tomorrow that we might be able to avoid radiation and chemo and get these drains removed. Thanks for coming along on the ride with us.  The love and support of all of you is so encouraging.

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

Best night of sleep last night in weeks!  Staring to reduce the pain meds a bit and feeling a little more human.  One of my drains is collecting very little fluid and will surely come out at my appointment next week and the other is full but getting to the “right” colors so I think we are headed in the right direction.   I have muscle spasms from time to time but other than that everything just feels more tight than painful. 

I would love to sleep in my bed instead of this recliner but when I get too horizontal I can’t get up on my own.   Wishing I had spent more time strengthening my core about now.  We may get a wedge pillow and see if that gives me more options.   I can’t think about much except how I am going to wash this nasty hair so that’s probably a pretty good sign too.  

I cant say enough about how wonderful Bill and the girls are.  They help whenever they can and change bandages and empty drains and never flinch or complain.   I couldn’t have asked for a better spouse than God sent strolling my way in Marion straight from the NW suburbs of Chicago.  There was no reason for our paths to cross except for him being hand picked for me.  ❤️    #godsgotus. #godsbeengoodtome  #feelingstronger

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

I don’t really have a lot to add to what Kristine already shared and I don’t feel like “talking” much.   Pretty much feel like I got hit by a semi but I wanted everyone to know I was home and Bill and the girls are in super nurse mode. Thank you for your prayers.  We do appreciate all of you more than you can imagine.

Journal entry by Kristine Pollard

Dr Carson finished the mastectomy. The surgery went smooth. However, he informed us that the cancer was found in 2 lymph nodes. As a precautionary measure, he removed the rest of them for more testing. They are also sending the tumor to California for additional testing. As of now, radiation is needed. This will occur 5 days/week for 5 weeks and will begin in a couple of weeks to give her some recovery time. Not quite the news anyone was hoping for BUT she is handling surgery well and that is what matters in the moment! Dr Chetta is operating currently and should be wrapping up within the next hour or so.

Journal entry by Kristine Pollard

Good Morning!

Happy Monday. It's Kris and I'll be doing updates on here throughout the day! The big day is finally here and spirits are higher than they've ever been. Mom stayed calm and strong all morning. Big C definitely has his comforting and supportive arms wrapped around her. She is in wonderful hands with Dr Carson and Dr Chetta this morning. Dr Carson will first be doing the single left mastectomy and Dr Chetta will follow to get her going with plastics. They believe this process will take at max 6 hours. Surgery officially started at 8:17 am. It's a bad day to be cancer because TODAY cancer loses! Thanks for the continued prayer and positivity. God's got this!

Also, I've never seen someone look so good at 5:30 in the morning in hospital gear.

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

Just wanted to share the timeline as I know it tomorrow.   We have to be at The James at 5:30.   At 7:00 they will take me to do a dye injection (or something like that) to show them where the sentinel lymph node is.   Then at 7:30 we start surgery.   They will remove that first lymph node and we go from there.   Our prayer is that it’s clean and no more need to be removed.   Then they will remove my left girl and place the tissue expander for the reconstruction.   I am told the surgery will be 3-4 hours and then recovery an hour or two after that so I should be out and ready for lunch by noon.  😊.   Kristine is planning to update this blog throughout the morning for those interested in following.   If all goes as planned I will be home sometime Tuesday. Thanks for your prayers.  God has blessed me with a calm and confidence all day and evening that could only be from Him.  #blessed.  #Godsgotus.

Journal entry by Lisa Pollard

This was the day I felt something during my shower that I knew was new and shouldn't be there.  I went to work and called Spielman Center and explained what I felt and that I wanted a mammogram.  The nice gal on the phone explained that it sounded like what I really needed was a diagnostic mammogram and that would have to come from a referral from my Primary Care Physician.  And since my last mammogram was on 8/22/2017, insurance would likely want me to wait until 8/23/2018 anyway.  Okay......we can do this your way, so I called my Dr and took the first available appointment on 8/22.  I told no one about this.  I just started praying.

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Lisa’s Story

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