Thursday, April 4, 2013

My first expansion and preparing for the next step in my treatment plan

On Tuesday, I had my first expansion.  In case you are wondering what is involved, here is a good video demonstrating this process:

The plastic surgeon simply used a magnet to locate the port (which happened to be located directly behind my incision).  Then, he made a mark and proceeded to insert a very long, skinny needle into the mark. I quickly asked, "will this hurt", so that I could brace myself?  I didn't take any pain medication prior to my appointment.  He said I probably wouldn't feel a thing.  He was correct.  I didn't feel the needle being inserted at all.  However, as he injected the 40 cc of fluid, I felt strange popping feelings.  I am sure this was due to the fluid filling up the creases in the hard plastic expander that previously existed (since it was somewhat deflated in areas).  I currently have 140 cc of fluid in the expanders and my goal is 200cc, which should equate to an "A" cup bar size.  An ounce of fluid is approximately 30 cc for comparison purposes.  He actually put a little less fluid than planned in each side to give my incisions a little more time to heal before stretching them too much.  So, I am hoping to get the remaining 60 cubic centimeters injected on Tuesday.

What happens next?  On Wednesday, I have a CT simulation appointment with my radiation oncologist.  I saw her yesterday and she said my wounds looked great and that I could raise my arm just fine for the radiation process.  She also said that I would be ready to begin radiation today if I didn't need another expansion.  So, the plan is to have my the CT simulation on Wednesday after my last expansion.  This simulation will help the radiation oncologist map out the field for my radiation treatment.  Then, I can begin radiation the following day, on Thursday.  I will also begin my oral chemotherapy at the same time.  I will take the chemo pill only on the days of radiation (M-F for 6.5 weeks).  Since radiation only kills the cancer cells locally, the goal with the chemo pill (Xeloda) is to keep the cancer under control systemically until I can begin Tamoxifen.  Apparently, the chemo pill can have some negative effects on my immune system, so I will need to be careful with germs again.  They are giving my Saturday and Sunday "off" of the pill to give my bone marrow some time to build my immune system back up.  The chemo pill also magnifies the negative effects of radiation, so I will be watched carefully for burns on my skin as well. 

I am so excited that I get to begin radiation next week!  [I am also so happy that both the plastic surgeon and my radiation oncologist said my wounds looked great!  I was a bit concerned since they had been still oozing blood just a couple of days before.  But, I don't really know what to compare my wounds too--I am definitely no expert.]  So, if I get to begin radiation next week, I will be done my 5/23!  That is pretty exciting to me!  Please pray that my next expansion goes well next week and also that I can begin radiation.  I am currently about 9 weeks out from my last chemotherapy, and I don't want to give any cancer cells that are remaining in my body any more time to regroup and go somewhere else.  Of course, I would also really appreciate your continued prayers for complete healing.  We can beat this cancer with your prayers, God willing!

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