No dance until Monday practice. Just trying to stay relaxed and see how it goes with this week of treatment. One thing I know for sure, I am going to call on Monday and request that I be taken completely off the steroids for my last two treatments.
The steroids are causing crazy insomnia. Even with sleep medication, I am still wide awake and well, ready to go dancing almost. I can manage just about every other side effect, but if I can’t sleep then everything is worse. Sleep is one way to escape feeling lousy.
I had an appointment today with the plastic surgeon who will do most of my next surgery. Unfortunately, after I finish chemotherapy, I will have 28 days of radiation followed by a major surgery that is going to rearrange most of my body.
As I mentioned, I had one surgery already back in December 2014. While they were successful in removing all the cancer they could see, they weren’t able to get wide enough margins of healthy tissue to ensure there weren’t any microscopic cells lying around. Usually they like to see 2mm of healthy tissue, and only one spot was more than that for me. One spot was only 0.5 mm, far too close to call the surgery a success. That, plus the tumour they found in one of my lymph nodes is the main reason for chemo and radiation, and also means there is a mastectomy in my future.
But, there are some small options. When I found it I had to have a mastectomy, as you can imagine, I had to think about a lot of things. Being a bigger girl in general, I had been thinking about having a breast reduction for some time. Also, since this cancer came out of nowhere, with no family history, I can see an advantage to having my breasts removed. Especially with the reconstruction options available today which 6 months ago I had no idea existed.
So, after a lot of thought, I have decided to have a double mastectomy with a DIEP reconstruction. Basically, they will remove my breasts and take tissue from my stomach to replace them during a 10-12 hour surgery (really 2 surgeries in 1). This surgery, plus the chemo and radiation reduces the chances that the cancer will reoccur in the next 5 years down to about 7-10%. A woman with no history of cancer has a 5% chance she will have cancer. So there are definite pluses to doing this.
But there is also a lot of risk, especially in considering dance. For starters, I won’t be able to dance for 6-8 weeks after the surgery. That is a LONG time for me to not dance. As part of the surgery, they will pull my upper abdomen down to fill the gap for the tissue they will move, and that will make my entire core tight from top to bottom. I won’t be able to stand up straight for at least 2 weeks. It means having to relearn how to have proper posture, and it means having to rebuild endurance for holding it–especially in standard.
Because everything on my body is going to move around, I am going to have to also learn to rebalance myself since my centre of gravity will be different, and I will have numb areas on my skin that will make it hard to tell things like if I am maintaining proper contact with my partner. It’s going to take a long time to recover my endurance in general as I can expect the fatigue to hang around for at least 6 months after.
So, the end of October is when this is likely to take place, and when everything is going to change for me. There are a lot of things that can go wrong, but I am young, healthy (ish), and generally fit, so I have a very good chance everything will go smoothly. In the end, my chances of staying healthy and not having to go through all of this again make the risks worth it.
But everything is going to change.