Leave it to Garrett to come up with something out of the ordinary…I developed an infection two and half months AFTER radiation. Typically, the infection shows up within three weeks of treatment….not me…I wanted to be different. The only signs I had that something was amiss was redness around the area where the catheter had been inserted.
Yes, I went to the doctor and was given some antibiotics which didn’t phase the infection. We went through 8 weeks of on and off again antibiotics, which didn’t work. Finally I went back to the doctor ready for some action. My options were to continue as we had been doing or have a mastectomy. WOW…how could we go from an infection to a mastectomy.? I thought mastectomies were for cancer patients. I didn’t realize it could be from infections.
My dear doctor was more concerned about the removal than I and he assured me I could do reconstructive surgery. I let it be known at my age, I doubted I would go for another surgery because prothetics would work just fine for me. If I were in my thirties or forties I would have a different mindset but not at 64 years old.
Surgery was July 27th and all is well with me. The healing process is taking longer than I had anticipated, but I have my health and life is good.
Lesson learned: it is not how you get there but it is what you do with the journey along the way.
Once I knew I could do the radiation for 5 days, I was thrilled because I didn’t have the time for the 6 week program. The doctor inserted the first catheter and when I went to the radiation oncologist, he informed me my skin was too thin. Now, what was I going to do? He discussed with me additional options and by this time, I was so confused and devastated because I wasn’t sure I was still a candidate for the radiation fast track program.
The radiation oncologist assured me there was another catheter, which I was a great candidate and he wanted to use it on me. I didn’t care as long as it was only 5 days of radiation. Whew…missed the 6 weeks bullet of radiation. All went well with the 5 day program and my team became great supporters. In fact on the last treatment, one of the team members told me he was sorry we had met under such circumstances but he had enjoy getting to know me.
Lesson learned: look for the humor, wear the red clown nose, get plenty of giggles because it makes the treatment and time go faster.
When meeting with the surgeon, I was apprehensive, but knew my cancer was not going to be as intensive as Gene’s…mine was going to be a walk in the park. The surgeon and I discussed my options and decided on the lumpectomy, followed by the new procedure of having radiation 5 days a week but twice a day.
However, once he removed the lumpectomy, he called with the report. When he mentioned pathology report, I froze over the phone because no one had mentioned this to me. From my previous experience with Gene, I knew this was not a good thing. I do not remember what the doctor said, but I heard him ask me what did I want to do and did I have any questions? I realized he needed an answer from me, so I asked him what my game plan was going to be. He told me to come into his office the next day for further discussion.
When the shoe was on the other foot, I asked questions on the spot with Gene’s doctors but when it concerned me, I couldn’t think of the first question. However by the next day I had two pages of questions for the surgeon. He spent plenty of time with me answering all of my concerns and then came up with a game plan.
However, he was going to have to go back in and remove the nipple because the tumor was located right behind the nipple…so I needed to have a second surgery….bummer. After the 2nd surgery, now I could concentrate on the treatment, which was radiation for 5 days, twice a week.
Lesson learned: ask plenty of questions.