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Breast Cancer Adds Third Breast to Dallas Woman

Thank you for the emails, thoughts and prayers that have come my way. I have not really been on email since the surgery so please forgive me for not responding to each of you individually. Even though I am not on the computer regularly, I remain grateful for your prayers and your well wishes.

I am giving you two updates below. The “short version” is the bottom line of my current condition. For those of you like me, who want all the details, I couldn’t help sharing some of the graphic details from my “set of glasses.” If you are easily offended, stop with the short version.

Short Version: I am doing well, in some pain due to extra fluid. Left the house a couple of times but I tire easily. Radiology scheduled to begin June 1.

Long, Gory, Dramatic, Uncensored, Explicit, Rated R Version, (read if you wish): I am learning quickly that when a person has a serious disease, most of the choices are already made for them. Few of us would choose what goes on in those little pink examination rooms. Though you will see me making light of my treatment, I assure you it is simply me trying to maintain my sense of humor. I am incredibly grateful for the folks know that what they’re doing and that they are not wimps like me.

As you all know, the surgery and removal of a few lymph nodes was very successful without any indication of further tumors. I have two incisions. The first one is where they removed the tumor and the second one (almost under my arm) is where they removed the lymph nodes.

The first couple of days of recovery went well, just a little sore. On or around day three I began to grow a third breast where my lymph nodes were removed. After another 24 hours, I found myself carrying around this third breast in my hand. The required after surgery sports bra could not contain it. I thought of so many of my friends who have carried an equal or greater amount of breast poundage around their entire life. How do they do it without holding them (breasts) to keep them from bouncing around, thus causing great pain to the torso that is required to keep them attached?

Concerned about this third breast, I called the Dr. and they had me come in. She notified me that I had a large amount of fluid that had built up where they removed the lymph nodes. As you probably know, surgeons typically don’t really think anything is a big deal. Very calmly she informed me that she was going to remove the fluid. I’m thinking, OK… will I go back “under” or what? She turned around with a needle and vile and began sucking the fluid out of my new breast, moving the needle around guided by the image on the sonogram. She took out 5-6 giant vials and then decided that the needle was too small. She turned back around with a needle the size of a knitting needle. Twelve vials later she stopped and poured the inside of my now deflated third breast into a large measuring cup. She recorded the amount of fluid then told me to make another appointment because she was sure it was going to fill back up.

As she predicted, the “third breast” filled up again but this time I did not watch. (Duh. Can’t tell you why I watched all 18 vials fill up the first time.) They drained twice as much fluid on Thursday and as of today, (Saturday) it has filled up again. I will probably go in tomorrow and then have it drained again next Wednesday when she inserts the radiation balloon in the cavity of Breast #2. They will drain Breast #3 as often as they need to until it dries up and the other lymph nodes take over. The goal is to end up with my too small original breasts.

I feel as though I have neglected Breast #1 in all of my correspondence but I guess that is typical… The good kid doesn’t get the attention. Never thought I would say this, but I am very proud of Breast #1.

Next week will be filled with appointments and tests to prepare for radiation on June 1. It is a fairly new type of radiation called Intracavitary brachytherapy. This method of brachytherapy consists of a small balloon attached to a thin tube. The deflated balloon is inserted into the space left by the lumpectomy and is filled with a salt water solution. The balloon and tube are left in place throughout treatment (with the end of the tube sticking out of the breast). Twice a day a source of radioactivity is placed into the middle of the balloon through the tube and then removed. This is done for 5 days as an outpatient treatment. The balloon is then deflated and removed.

Chemotherapy will follow after 2-3 weeks of additional healing from surgery and radiation.

One last note… Don’t let those little pink examination rooms fool you. Torture goes on there.

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