Monday, October 15, 2007

The Story of My Cancer Diagnosis

Here's the story of my cancer diagnosis, for any who might be curious.

- I used to smoke, socially. I smoked for about 10-12 years, but maybe a half a pack a day at MOST.
- I got pregnant in April of 2006 and I gave birth to a beautiful boy in January 2007.
- I was sick (fever with no other symptoms) in April 2007 but did not think much of it.
- In May I thought I had mastitis (a breast infection often associated with breast feeding) and I treated it with antibiotics. I did not get better. In fact, I got sicker and sicker and eventually ended up going to the emergency room because I had a high fever (102.5) that would not go away. (This was all at the beginning of bar classes, too, so it was rather stressful!). I was diagnosed with pneumonia.
- 2 weeks later I had a follow-up chest x-ray and it showed no change despite my symptoms being gone.
- 2 weeks after that I had another chest x-ray and again, no change. My doctor sent me for a CT scan. The CT scan showed a lung tumor.
- Then I went to a pulmonologist, who said it was most likely a benign tumor I'd had since birth and that it was blocking an airway and that had caused my pneumonia. He sent me to a surgeon. Breathing tests showed "almost normal" lung capacity (about 80%).
- The surgeon (head of thoracic surgery at Johns Hopkins) said it definitely had to come out--and that the lower lobe of my right lung would have to go.
- I sat for the Bar Exam in late July. It really helped me get my mind off the tumor and the upcoming surgery. Results come out in November and IF I passed, I don't get sworn in till December.
- I had surgery on Sept. 6. The tumor in my lower lobe was bigger than expected and there was another small tumor in the middle lobe. Both the lower and the middle lobes of my lung were removed.
- I was in the ICU for th dau and night following surgery. The next day I was transferred to a regular floor. My total hospital stay was about 5 days and then I (thankfully) got to go home. Healing is going well. There is pain and I do not take any pain medication because the medication I was given precludes breastfeeding! (Doctors can be such idiots sometimes.)
- The pathologist's report came back about a week later and it showed that the tumor was cancer. The report indicated that the source of the cancer is likely lung but cannot rule out other areas of the body.
- The lymph nodes and the pleura (chest wall lining) were cancer free, so that's really good.
- I am met with an oncologist for the first time on Sept 25. The doctor told me that she recommends 4 months worth of chemo to start in early November (the delay is to give me time to heal from surgery).
I am going to have an MRI brain scan tomorrow (Oct 16) PET CT scan the day after that (Oct 17). The oncologist told me thst I could call on Oct 18 to get the results.
- Based on whatever those results are, her recommendations could change.
- We are planning to seek a second opinion in Houston before starting chemo.


Playing with the Squirrels said...


Hang in there. I'm sure you will be fine, but I'm sending you all the good vibes I can--I hope they are as effective as the ones you sent me.

Don't worry about stopping breastfeeding. You've done the right thing by breastfeeding as long as you can, but more than anything your baby needs a healthy mother. Your baby will be fine--you need to take care of yourself now.

BTW, we chose not to circumcise also. I've never been in favor of it (although I don't hold my parents' decision against them), but I was a little surprised to find of the pediatricians we have consulted, women are far more skeptical of the benefits of circumcision than are men. Likewise, all of the other men at our childbirth classes and my new daddy boot camp class seemed in favor of circumcision. I wonder what's up with that? I would imagine the practice was dreamed up by men, but do men still favor the practice so they don't have to feel they've been maimed and question their parents' decisions?

I didn't quite understand the other two practices you mentioned, though. What are they?

Gina said...

I am sorry you have had the loss of your nursing relationship. I can't believe you took the bar while all of this was going on. I had a hard enough time taking the bar with nothing going on, before I had children. You are in my thoughts.