On Fri Aug 28th I went in for my second surgery. While I knew that it would be a much more invasive surgery (radical neck disection) I wouldn`t have been able to understand how much harder this surgery would really be compared to the last. The last one wasn`t a walk in the park either but at least I bounced back quickly afterward and got to go home early for lack of compications.
This time was a totally different situation. I arrived at the hospital at 6am to get in and prepared for surgery. They began the surgery at 8am with plans to be finished by 2:30-3:00pm. This time came and went by hours for my family and with mine being the only surgery still in progress the waiting room was empty of families and staff. Finally after a couple of hours at 5:30 a Dr. came to speak to them to let them know that I was still in surgery and that it was taking longer than expected, I`d be another 1.5 hours. Around 7:00 my surgeon came to speak to them. She said the surgery although long was good and that they had to remove alot more cancer than they anticipated. It seems they had 18 lymph nodes marked for possible removal, and wound up taking 81+ lymphnodes along with cancerous soft tissue. She commented that she had gone very low into my upper breast and was still finding cancer. Obviously this means the spreading may be more widespread than we were hoping to find. Just before 7:30 my family was finally able to see me. I was in the ICU to be monitored overnight.
Overnight turned into 4 days due to complications. I wound up having an extreme drop in calcium, this is very dangerous in the levels I was showing and can cause heart attacks even death (who knew? I’ll drink milk now I swear!). This Leads my surgeon to believe she has taken most if not all of my parathyroids during the course of the surgery. They look like lymphnodes and can be mistaken for them. On the second night my breathing failed and I had to have emergency measures to fix my breathing and subsequently my blood oxygen levels. The ICU was the best spot I could have been when that happened, they got to me fast and by morning I was doing well. Though my Magneseum went low as well after the 3rd day it was not as dangerous as the calcium problems.
On day 4 I was stablized enough to move out of the ICU this was GREAT NEWS! Finally after a really rough surgery and slow start to recovery I was released! I am happy to be home. I feel sick alot mostly because of this amount of medications I am on, and I am very very tired . But nothing beats being home with my family. Now I have to recover enough to be able to get through radiation. So far that is the next step, unless she decides to do some sort of scan in between to look at the rest of my body. So I will try to look forward to having a bit of a break (mental and physical) over the next few weeks. I will hug my hubby kids and tell them over and over how I feel about them. Never again will I take one day for granted. I am thankful to have made it this far, and I will continue to visualize crossing the finish line. NOTHING is more important to me than hearing the word “remission”.
Now I wait and recover, next step is radiation… Yuck!
My surgery went very well. It seems I did really well through the surgery (Despite my larger than normal windpipe! Yeah, those are my surgeons words…)
I had none of the complications that are expected. I did my best to get up and back to normal as soon as possible. I was doing so well I was released from the hospital a day/two earlier than expected. Yay!
Recovery also has been quite good. In fact I felt pretty fantastic the first week. Not too much pain and my energy level was fairly normal. Now that my body has lost all the natural thyroid hormones (T4 & T3) I am feeling pretty wiped out. Bordering on exhaustion. My Dr said this is to be expected while they are trying to figure out my dosage of the synthetic hromones I am on now (Synthroid). I am trying to rest when I can (lol) once my family and I are moved and settled this will be much easier.
Friends have been by to see me both in the hospital and sicne getting home. Everyone has been so supportive, but a handful of close friends have really stepped up. The flowers and cards have been pouring in, and I am thankful for being so blessed by wonderful people.
I got some of the pathology back from my surgeon. Rather than just having the 2 known tumours in my thyroid I actually had five. 3 were quite small still and the other 2 were really big. The largest being around 5cms. No wonder I was having trouble swallowing and the feeling of something always in my throat! She feels fairly confident that even though there was some small amount of metastasis, she has got all the cancer out. She is still urging me to go through with radiation as she feels it is the safest option to ensure ALL the cancer is irradicated. After the research I have done I am leaning toward not dong it. If she’s confident it’s all out and my body scan doesn’t detect any I don’t see the point. Sure it will kill any undetected cancer, but it will also bring my chances of developing breast cancer to higher levels. I am not sure it’s worth it to put myself at risk of a secondary cancer. I haven’t decided fully and basically it’s up to the oncologist to decide. I am just really having a hard time with it all now.
At the moment I am waiting to see the endocronologist, and my oncologist before I know what will happen next.
SO until those appointments I am trying to keep an open mind.
…until my surgery. If it wasn’t for my close friends I would have fallen completely apart by now. I packed my hospital bag a while ago and it was really painful… Reminded me of the last time I packed a hospital bag when I was pregnant with Ruari. It was a really happy time with so much to look forward to. I had no idea that a year later I would be faced with the biggest battle I could imagine. Cancer.
Never in a million years would I have seen this coming. A heart attack maybe (lol), but not cancer.
I know the surgery is only the first step in a lengthy proccess to rid myself of this illness, but it seems like the scariest part for me.
Even though I know it’s irrational, I can’t rid myself of the fact that I could die. From the surgery or the cancer. I know what you’re thinking… stay positive, you can do it! It’s hard at times. Tonight I sat down to write letters to my kids. I call them “just-in-case letters. Beyond that I have tried to stay really positive and “normal” during the whole thing.
Once I am home from surgery and things have settled down, I will post an update with how the surgery went and how I am doing.