Thursday, January 15, 2009
It took 7 hours but we are back from UCLA and my brain has been jam-packed with information (some of it I'm just rejecting out of...well, mind). Surgery (the "lumpectomy" just really isn't dramatic enough is it?) is scheduled for January 28th at 11 a.m. Of course, I need to get there at o'dark thirty and I can't have coffee, wine, gum, candy, heroin or scrambled eggs after midnight so by 11a.m. I'll pretty much be begging for anesthesia (and/or death; but I realize some of you might not find that amusing right now). The good doctor promises an IV of Starbucks when it's all over. He's quite funny but that better not be a joke. And speaking of the good hands man, that's him. Dr. Amer Karam. What he's holding is a spectacular drawing of what's going on inside my "right breast 10 o' clock"; yeah, it made me nervous about his manual dexterity too, but he just overslept when they taught "cancer cartoons" in med school. Still, if you ever hear the words "highly suspicious of malignancy" give the man a call. And yeah, I know, he looks young. He assures me he's done seven breast surgeries before (okay, he said "hundreds" but I heard "seven"; I'm like that). I'm trying to remember that I was 23 when I graduated from law school and I expected everyone to take me seriously. I'm taking him seriously. It's the cancer I refuse to take seriously.
Oh, and IT WAS MY GOOD FRIEND STACEY ALDSTADT WHO REFERRED ME TO UCLA and personally made sure I got to a doctor long before the medical community of Riverside could even find my chart or return a phone call. Thank you Stacey. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. No, really. Thank you.
And that brings me to other supporting players. Here's my January team:
Dad on the left, Dr. Karam, and Chris. That was our little team today figuring out my whole "treatment plan." I focused on margaritas, martinis and wine (when each was applicable); Dad asked medical questions (how is this relevant??? Geez. Dads.); and Chris took scrupulous notes while trying not to giggle every time Dr. Karam said "breast" (which the dude says a lot. A lot.)
In the end, the plan was the lumpectomy and search for the "sentinel node" on the 28th (more on that sentinel later; it's kinda fascinating). If all goes well (meaning there's no cancer in the lymph nodes) I'm home that evening (well, after a 5 to 6 hour drive home in rush hours traffic). I insist on being back at work the following Monday. I have appointments scheduled!! Then after a week or so, I go back to Dr. Karam. If he got "everything" in the first surgery, well, Dr. Karam ends our relationship and it's goodbye to him (unless one of you starts dating him; and there seems to be volunteers among you). But alas, that is not the end of my cancer journey. Then I have to go see an oncologist and convince him or her I don't really need chemo, or I just need chemo light. Dr. Good Karma, who thus far has not been wrong about a single thing (apparently he didn't miss all of his med school classes; just the drawing one) seems to be preparing me for the inevitability of chemo. So that will likely start sometime in March and go on for 4 months. Reminder: Birthday Bash in February still an option! I'm thinking Friday the 13th! Totally appropriate. After that will be radiation. Which should be delightful in Riverside in you know, July or August! Stay out of the sun? Are you kidding me??
So basically, not much changed today. Except we have actual dates and a sort of schedule. Oh, and they had me do 1) a chest x-ray; 2) blood tests (4 vials); 3) a urinanalyis and 4) an EKG in preparation for surgery. They managed to accomplish all of that in about an hour. Astounding. And I didn't have to drive all over the place and carry my records myself. I could do the whole testing journey in super-cute 4" strappy silver sandals walking only as far as the elevator. Oh, and there was one "it could be worse" moment when Dr. Good Karma told me one of the tests was a pregnancy test. I may have threatened his life if he came back to me with "you're pregnant." (Security was called prematurely in my opinion!!) This whole cancer thing may be over in 8 months. Pregnancy? The child never goes away, right? I'm 45. My dad came to my appointment today. (Thanks, Dad. ;-)