Saturday, August 28, 2010

Surgery Update

Dear Friends and Family -

I wanted to share with you how the surgery went on Wednesday and what the day was like for me. I meant to do this yesterday... I was just so tired. There will be more information in this e-mail than what you need or want, but I am trying to keep a journal for myself without having to type everything twice. Sorry. (you can skip to the bottom to get the facts about the results of the surgery) I am making a blog to put these entries on and when I have it up and running I will send that email address and you can get an update whenever you would like.

When Talmage and I got to the hospital, my dad was already in the waiting room. It was his birthday. I was glad he was there and then shorlty after, my mom came in. It was the kind of moment that you just want to be that little girl who skinned her knee and your mom puts a bandaid on it and everything is better. No bandaid, but a lot of love and hope.

After getting my IV put in, a nurse and her assistant came to do a stress test on the baby. This was the comical relief that we all needed. They could not figure out how to turn on their machine and tried for a good 5 minutes. My confidence was dwindling. Finally, Talmage spoke up and asked if he could help. He went to the back of the machine and pushed the button that said, "power". It turned on. Whew! They watched the baby for about 15 minutes and this little girl proved that she was strong and ready for the day. It was a joy to listen to her and her her hiccups :) While we were waiting, a lullaby would play over the loud speakers. This meant that a baby had just been born. I was really wishing that I was there to have a baby instead of what I was about to go through. After the fetal stress test, I was sent down to have a Sentinel Node Injection. I was a little nervous for this, but it turned out to be nearly painless. I was grateful. This is where they inject a small amount of radioactive material through the breast that travels through the Lymphatic channels. This is how the surgeon would see if the Cancer had spread. We went back to the room and waited to go into surgery. A short while later, the stretcher pulled up. I really didn't love the sight of it. They wheeled me down the hall, I said "see ya later" to my parents and Talmage and I continued on to meet with the surgeon. We went over the information to make sure we were all on the same page and then they rolled me out. The plan was to do a Lumpectomy, Sentinel Node Biopsy with possible Axillary disection. It was hard to let go of Talmage's hand. As they wheeled me down the hall, we turned a corner and stopped. Right above me was a big, silver, bulb that acted like a mirror. I could see my whole body on the stretcher as if from a bird's eye view. It was surreal. All I could do is look at myself and repeat the same phrase that I had been saying hundreds of times a day since the diagnosis. "Faith not fear". We rolled into the operating room, transfered beds, got oxygen and then I felt my arm sting. I knew they were putting me to sleep. I instantly saw double and then I was out. Operating time.

When I woke up, I remember the first thing I asked was if they had to do the Axillary disection. I knew if they didn't then the Cancer hadn't spread. Nobody answered. They rolled me directly to Labor and Delivery so that we could monitor the baby to make sure she was well. She was. Unfortunately, my OB is out of town and has been for a while. So, I didn't really have somebody who wanted to be responsible for me, plus my OB is at McKay Dee Hospital and my surgery was at LDS. After serveral hours, they decided the baby was strong enough for me to go home .... JUST then I had a contraction and her heart beat dropped and they wanted me to stay for 2 more hours... which turned into nearly 4 more hours. As time went on, I started having pretty strong contractions about every 5 minutes. I think this was due to the stress that my body was under and plus I hadn't had anything to eat in nearly 24 hours. Finally, around 9:30 pm they sent me home. I had contractions all the way home and thought we might be driving straight up to McKay to deliver this baby. When we got home, Talmage made me some oatmeal and I slowly ate and worked through the contractions. Thankfully around 12:30 am they started to subside. I could finally go to sleep.

The night before surgery, Talmage and I went to the Temple to do sealings. It was our 16th anniversary. It was peaceful, beautiful and comforting. I thought that I would be really emotional and cry the whole way through, but not one tear fell from my eye. I could even say I was happy. I felt surrounded by love from both this side of the veil and beyond the veil. It is something I will always cherish. My friend from highschool sent me a scripture ... one that I love, and it is what I thought about the whole day of the surgery. It is:

D&C 84:88 ..."there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." Each of you have been my angels. Thank you so much.

The tumor they took out was 1 cm and they also took out 1 lymph node that was part of the Sentinel Node Biopsy. This showed that the cancer had not spread and so we have every reason to believe that they were able to remove it completely! I am SO THANKFUL! However, because of the size, my age and the type of cancer (3 negatives) I will still start Chemotherapy shortly after the baby is born. This is simply a precaution. This Thursday, my case will be presented at the Tumor Board and all of the doctors attending will decide the appropriate course of action to take. So for now, we wait for this little girl to make her appearance. Hopefully she can wait a couple of weeks so that I can heal from surgery and not have any complications due to lactating. We are just taking it one step at a time and are so thankful for all that has occured. Our family is being blessed. Our children are staying strong and faithful and I feel the love of all of you and from a loving, merciful Heavenly Father.

All Our Love,

Danae, Talmage and Kids

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Up Date

Dear Family and Friends -

I can't thank you enough for all of your faith, prayers and fasting. I am so humbled by your love and concern and I know that prayers are being heard and answered. Thank you!, Thank you! Today was a big day in figuring out what the next steps are going to be. Talmage and I met with the surgeon today and THANKFULLY I will be going into surgery this Wednesday at LDS hospital. We feel very confident with the surgeon and she came highly recommended. Here is what the next several months will entail. So, Wednesday afternoon I will have a lumpectomy with radiation, recover as much as possible, have the baby whenever she is ready and then a couple of weeks after she is born I will start Chemotherapy every 3 weeks for 4 rounds. Sounds like a bummer, but I am surprisingly alright with this. It's amazing how the Lord can and does strengthen you in your hour of need. I know it will be a tiring few months with a newborn and chemo and we'll get to see if I have a round head, oval head, flat head or a lumpy bumpy head. Those falls off the bicycle when I was little might really show up now. However, I wouldn't have it any other way. I am grateful that the doctors are being aggressive to give me a better chance of not having a reoccurance. Plus, i'm going to find some really cool bandanas or maybe see what it is like to have black or red hair. ;) I feel much better today just knowing that we have a plan and can move forward.

If you feel so inclined, we will be having a fast starting Tuesday evening specifically for 1) that the cancer has not spread (2) that the surgeons will get all of the cancer out and (3) that the baby will be safe and all will go well with the surgery.

I love you all so much and have felt the strength of your prayers and the tender mercies of a loving Heavenly Father. There is no way I could do this alone. I am grateful for strong and valiant children who are being so brave and a husband who gives unconditional support and love. Can you imagine having to be the one to tell your wife she has cancer? I love him.

Thank you again and again for your faith and prayers. They carry me moment to moment.

All Our Love,

Danae, Talmage and Kiddos.

p.s. Here is my thought for today. I received this book from my visiting teacher who is also batteling cancer and has been for 16 years! She gave this to me two months ago. The title is "Counting Blessings" by Kerry Blair and in her introduction of why she is writing this book she says, "But why do it? Why venture into that dark hole of uncertainty and possible failure in the first place? Kate Douglas Wiggin answered that question in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm": "Going to Aunt Mirandy's is like going down the cellar in the dark. There might be ogres and giants under the stairs, --- but, as I tell Hannah, there might be elves and fairies and enchanted frogs!"

Isn't that wonderful? Something that seems so dark and scary can actually have something magical and beautiful. I believe that to be true with this situation. I know something good will come of this.

I Need Your Prayers

Dear Family -

There is no easy way to say this and so I will just come straight out with it. I have breast cancer. I never thought I would have to utter those words, but there they are and it is a reality. Last January I felt a small lump and so Talmage set up an appointment for me to get an ultra sound. The images were vague and did not resemble a cancer. The doctor asked if I were pregnant and I told him there was .1% chance that I was. Well, little did we know, I was pregnant. This little girl is a miracle in every way possible. When we found out I was pregnant, we sort of chalked up the lump to hormones and changing breast tissue and kind of forgot about it. Within the past month, Talmage has been bothered by the lump and got me an appointment to have a biopsy done, just so we could get it out of our minds. The biopsy was done this past Wednesday and again it was small and hard to find. I was actually embarrassed for being there thinking that they must think I am paranoid. The results were expected to be ready by Friday. Friday morning I called Talmage at work and he hadn't had time to look at the results because of a conference. Later I tried calling again ... and then again... and then again. No answer. I started to get a little anxioius, but thought he must be very busy and would be calling me with the negative results any minute. I went to lay down and as I did Talmage walked through the door. My heart sank. I knew it was serious. Can I just tell you what a brave Son/Brother you have. I love him so much and am grateful to be his wife. Here are the facts. The lump is about 8 mm. Can you believe something so small can cause such disruption to somebody's life? It is a grade 3 which means that it has gone through the wall duct ... or something. (I should have Talmage write this part) Anyway, from the small biopsy, it appeared to have not spread into the Lymphatic System. On Monday, we go and meet with the surgeon to talk about getting into surgery ASAP before the baby is born. At that point we will know more information and what course of action we will need to take. Our BIG PRAYER AND HOPE is that the cancer is contained and has NOT spread to the lymphatic system and that they will be able to remove it, radiate it and be done with it!

This is where I am begging for your faith and prayers. I would SO appreciate your specific prayers that the cancer has NOT spread. And as with Jon's request, please include that it be the Father's will. I know He loves me and I know He can heal me if it's right. Tomorrow Talmage and my Dad will be giving me a blessing. I am so grateful for the Priesthood. Also, we told our children tonight and they are pretty somber. They could also use some prayers.

I love you all so much. I will keep you up-dated on what we find out and when this little girl arrives to our family. I am so excited to meet her.

All Our Love,

Danae and Talmage

D&C 101: 16 Therefore, let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God.

Facing the Truth

As I sit here and think about times in my past where I have been on the verge of receiving critical information, I am first taken back to each of my pregnancies... Is it a boy or a girl? Are they growing the way they should be? Or, when Talmage was opening up his test results from his Oral Boards... Pass or Fail? Or, waiting for test results of a loved one who is sick... Will he be okay or is this more serious than we expected? Each of these times and many more times I have thought about that small window of the "unknown" right before you get that critical information. How will I react if it's not favorable? What will I do? What will be the next course of action? Will I still have faith? On all of these occasions, thankfully, the results WERE favorable and I could breath deeply and peacefully knowing that all was well.
Today is a different kind of day, a different way of thinking. A realization that not all information comes back the way you hope. And in that moment of the unknown you have to prepare yourself for the possibility that it is not the information you want to receive. This is my personal account of that situation.
I actually don't know where this began exactly. I'll try to do my best. When I was towards the end of my pregnancy with Caleb, I felt a small lump in my left breast. We had it looked at with an ultra sound and it appeared to be nothing of significance. (that was another time of waiting for critical information) so we forgot about it. Now, 3 years later, I am pregnant with our 5th baby. At the very beginning of the pregnancy - even before we knew I was pregnant, I felt that same lump. I wasn't worried, but I noticed it. After discovering that infact I WAS pregnant - which is a beautiful miracle - we thought maybe the lump was a result of hormones and changing breast tissue. I went in for another ultra sound in January of 2010 and the images were really vague. Nobody seemed concerned, but thought we better follow up "just to be safe". Two days ago, I went in for a biopsy just so we could know that it was nothing serious and not have to think about it again. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Today the results came back. I had called Talmage a few times at work to see if he had gotten the results and he wouldn't answer his phone. I was anxious, but figured he had a busy schedule and would call me back with the negative results any minute. I went to lay down and a minute later, Talmage walked through the door with a serious look on his face. I instantly knew that this was serious enough for him to leave work and come home to tell me the test results in person. What a terrible thing for a husband to have to do. He was so brave and I love him so much for that. Before he said anything, I wanted that moment of the unknown to end the same as all of the other times. It didn't and now I have to face the "known". I have breast cancer. Wow! I said it. I acknowledge it. Technically I have "Invasive ductal cell carcinoma". Doesn't that just sound ugly? I loath it! So now that I have that information, what am I going to do about it? Pray, love and FIGHT.
On Monday, I go in for a consultation with the surgeon on what the best way is to go about getting rid of this. It is a very small tumor (8mm) however it is a level 3 which means it has gone through the wall. Our big prayer is that it has NOT spread to the lymphatic system. If that is the case, then they will remove the tumor and surrounding tissue, radiate it and be done! Hopefully this can all occur before the birth of our next baby which is due in 4 weeks. I can't wait to meet her. She must be so valiant to be coming to earth under these circumstances.
So here is what I know and believe. God loves me. He loves that I am a mother. He wants me to see and meet my potential. He loves me enough to test me and to help me become a better person. He loves my family. I know He sent His Only Begotten Son to the earth to set the example for us, to suffer the pains of the world for us, to give us a way to return to Him. I know I am not alone in this process and that gives me all the courage I need. I am grateful for these truths and for a family who loves me. As Talmage put it earlier, "we are in battle mode".