Path(ology) to radiation

Was anyone else expecting my oncologist(s) to declare me “cancer free”? Yeah, me too, but I guess it doesn’t work that way. The pathology report from my surgery showed that Chemo did reduce the size of my tumor by over half and it was removed with clear margins (all cancer cleared from original site and surrounding tissue)! So, why aren't we celebrating yet?

My surgeon also removed 3 lymph nodes, including the sentinel (boss node) and sent them for testing. Well, sad panda, cancer was found in one of them. Not much cancer, but still cancer. Chemo had eliminated a lot of it, but had not killed it entirely. Hard to believe anything can survive chemo, but it's scary as hell to know that some cancer can.

So, basically, the pathology report wasn't great, but at least we know that all the cancer is gone, right?  We got the tumor and the diseased lymph node, so we got the cancer all out, right? I'm cancer free!? This is what I am waiting to hear from the doctors - but the best I could get from the oncologists was "most likely the cancer is out of your body". MOST LIKELY?!

What do I do now? I'm going to do radiation treatment. While I most likely don't have cancer anymore, but just in case any cells went rogue and are swimming around somewhere thinking about cannonballing up my life again, we're gonna zap them.

I had already mentally prepared for this, as we knew the lymph node was still positive before surgery, so I don't really have many feelings about it. Basically, it sucks, but this whole damn thing sucks, so let's just keep going and see this thing through to the end.

I'm nervous, of course, about side effects - both short term and long term. I'm worried about small stuff, like what radiation will do to my skin and how it will impact my reconstruction. How will I handle the logistics of daily treatment with a 2 year old in tow? I'm scared, but like all other aspects of this process, I have to do every possible thing I can to stay here for my family. If there's a chance radiation will kill any remaining cancer cells and lessen my chances of a recurrence, then I have to take it.

I won't be able to get any additional fills to my expanders once radiation begins, so we only have 3 weeks to do 6 weeks worth of skin stretching. I had my first fill this week and it was crazy, I'll have to  do an entire post on the process, because, wow. But, I'll leave you with this - I sat there, while they stuck a needle in my "boobs" and pumped them up, like balloons, with saline. I literally saw them inflate in front of my eyes, it was surreal. They will pump me up a bit more each week until I start radiation. Then we wait and see how my skin reacts.

In the meantime, I'm noticing the lingering effects from the chemo less and less each day. My nails are dead, but they haven’t fallen off and...
See that beautiful soft pink?! There’s new growth! 
And yesterday I noticed I had LOTS of hair under my arms, now if only I could lift my arms up high enough or long enough to shave. I’ll spare you the photo on that on.

So, basically, there's growth happening over here and I'm most likely, cancer free. Let's do some radiation to keep it that way. Suck it cancer.

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