Surgery update

Surgery happened yesterday (Wednesday). I’m doing remarkably well today.

The surgery was more involved than I anticipated. I had been thinking of it as similar to a sentinel node dissection, but it was closer to a lumpectomy. What do I mean by that? The incision was bigger (she went in the original incision but had to add about an inch). She had to extract the cancerous nodes without clipping the nerves, and I was sent home with a drain until Tuesday. Ugg.

The surgery almost didn’t happen because I went in with a bit of a cold. The anesthesiologist was concerned – but because it was a cancer surgery we agreed to go ahead. I was doing my best to convince him as I really didn’t want to wait any longer! In the end, it went well and the only issue I’ve had is an extra sore throat – which was nicely controlled by the pain meds they gave me for my arm. I used the narcotics last night, but realised that my arm isn’t that sore and I can control my throat with regular tylenol, so I went that route this morning and am still good several hours later (yay).

I asked the surgery how big the tumor was, and she comments that it was more than one lymph node, around 1 cm. So the ultrasound scan that showed a 2 cm mass, was actually a clump of smaller masses. I have no idea if that is good or bad – smaller is better, but more is worse.

During the night last night I noticed that I had some swelling in my upper arm – which was to be expected. I put on a compression sleeve for about 8 hours (until it was driving me nuts), and that seems to have brought the swelling down. I’m glad to have the compression sleeves so that this was an option.

Another interesting thing is that they have a nurse coming to my house to change the dressings and checkin on me. This is new for us, as in the US they taught my hubby how to change the dressings and we did it all ourselves. This means I haven’t seen the incision yet. When the nurse comes later this afternoon I hope to get a few pictures for my surgery photo gallery (yes, we are nerds that way).

I now get to wait a couple of weeks for pathology to come back. I am very curious to learn about the grade and hormone receptor status. I’m expecting ER/PR+ as I was hormone positive before. I learned that they send the sample first to Kentville where they do the initial pathology – and where they can do the hormone receptor testing. Then they send it to Halifax for the Her2 testing. It takes 2-3 weeks. I’m hoping to get interim reports as they come in. I’ll be talking to my family doctor about a test result communication strategy on Wednesday.

What else is different is that I have a whole community of support around me. We are sharing our house with another family who are doing the main cooking and providing other critical support like walking my puppy when neither myself of my hubby (who has a bad cold) can. Other members of our community are helping with delivering our market veggies and mowing the lawn (which desperately needed it, and was on my to do list).

I’m back to a wait cycle. I’m not to lift things with my right arm – but I can and need to move the arm just not above my elbow height. The regular movement is to help avoid getting a frozen shoulder – which no one wants! I’ll be away from painting for a few weeks, as it involves too much lifting of buckets and climbing of ladders. During the time off, I’ll be spending more time visiting beaches if the tides are right and maybe doing some of the computer work I’ve been neglecting over the last month. Right now my focus is on healing. I’m mentally preparing for radiation in mid-September.

  • Becky

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