Pink Ribbon Chronicles - Part 2


Well, it's been quite a week. In one short week, Brian and I have learned so much more than we ever wanted to know about breast cancer through talking and/or meeting with with plastic surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, ultrasound techs, etc. - you name it, we've covered it this week if it has to do with breast cancer. In addition, we've also had our regular baby ultrasound and meetings with our OB to discuss baby Ty's arrival. However, after an exhausting, overwhelming week, we are totally at peace with the decisions we have made and feel incredibly lucky to have such an incredible, talented group of doctors working together to help us conquer this.

I personally have had the opportunity to talk and/or e-mail with 10+ women aged 29-47 (at diagnosis) who have supported me, encouraged me, inspired me and given me the knowledge that I am far from alone in this, and that I will emerge from it all a stronger, more confident woman. For this, I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I already know that lifelong friendships have begun to form, and while I would not wish this on my worst enemy, I feel lucky to know these women and have them in my life forever.

I also feel truly lucky to have my incredible husband by my side. He has truly been my rock throughout this, and I feel so incredibly lucky knowing that he will stand by my side and love me no matter what - hair or no hair, breasts or no breasts. I do believe I am a strong woman, but there is no way I could get through this without him. I love you so much, your love will never cease to amaze me.

So - on to the fun stuff. On Monday, before meeting with the doctors and learning about all the fun goodies that are in store for me, Drew and I were out for a walk and happened to come across this saying carved into a stone wall:

"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." -Eleanor Roosevelt

It immediately caught me in my tracks, and I had to stop and grab a pen to write it down, just knowing in my heart that it would become an important quote for me to focus on during my journey.

As the week progressed, I realized that indeed this quote would be an important one for me - one that will keep me going through the tough times. At the end of the week, I was faced with, and dealt with, fears I would never have been able to handle on Monday. Through conversations with some incredible people and realizations of what it will take to make my body healthy and whole again, and again, with the support and love of Brian, here is what our journey will hold for us over the next year:

1) Ty will be induced on Monday, Aug 17. Please hold good thoughts for a safe, natural delivery and healthy baby. I am assured by my Dr. that a 38-week induction poses no problems to the baby, but positive thoughts are greatly appreciated anyway!

2) For various reasons, namely that I never want this horrible disease to bother me or my family again, Brian and I have chosen for me to undergo a double mastectomy. This will happen at Sky Ridge within 2 weeks of delivery - date TBD.

3) Because of the "markers" on the cancer cells (for those who really like a lot of information - Estrogen negative, Progesterone positive, Her2Neu postive) I will have to undergo additional treatment post-surgery to ensure no cancer cells are left that might attack other parts of my body. Unfortunately, this does involve chemo - beginning 3-4 weeks after surgery, I will go in once every three weeks for a total of 6 sessions (roughly 4 1/2 months) for 3-4 hours while they pump me full of chemicals that will kill the cancer cells. Luckily, there are lots of drugs out there that supposedly really help with the nauseau that used to be common with chemo, but unluckily, no one has discovered an anti-hair loss drug yet. (Come on, people, get on that - that's MUCH more important than a little vomiting, for God's sake! :)) So yes, my hair will fall out, but don't worry, I am already planning a ceremonial head-shaving party that will involve lots of alcohol and friends, friends' husbands, friends' kids, anyone who has always wanted to shave their head. Brian and I will definitely be participating; just let me know if you have an inkling to shave your head - if you come, at least one person in your party is obligated to shave their head. More info on that later.

4) In addition to the chemo, because my cancer is Her2Neu positive, after chemo is over I will still have to go in every 3 weeks for another 7 1/2 months for 45-minute treatments to directly fight that particular part of the cancer. Since this is not a true chemo drug, however, my hair will start to come back, and this is supposedly a pretty "easy" drug, just a pain to go in all the time for treatments.

5) The one unknown in the post-op treatment until after the surgery is whether or not radiation will have to be tacked on to all of this. The way this will be determined is if they find that the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes - this can only be tested after surgery. Again, please think positive thoughts on this.

We so appreciate all your thoughts, prayers and offers to help - believe me, we will be taking you up on them! We apologize that we have not been as responsive as we would like to be, but know you understand that trying to process diagnosis, make these tough decisions and make sure Drew is as unaffected as possible throughout it all - all while trying to prepare for the arrival of a newborn - has been a rather challenging endeavor. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts - we love you all.

Love, Amy and Brian


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