Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Nurse Ron

Guess it's getting real. I got a lesson today from the nurse how to take care of the drains Darlene will have after the surgery. It won't be long now.

It's all so casual for those in the medical field. But it is all so personal for us in the family. The nurse was very caring and took all the time we needed and answered all the questions but she does it every day and this doesn't happen to us every day.

There is a sense of humor that you must have during this process. The last visit they showed us the different implants. It was explained about the difference between the expander and saline, silicone and "gummy bear" implants. It was strongly recommended and Darlene decided to use the gummy bears. So while the doctor is examining and talking to Darlene the nurse laughs and tosses me the implant samples, "Here's something for you to play with." The doc laughs, the nurse laughs, Darlene smiles, me I just started feeling up the implants. Like I said, laughing is better than crying.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

On Your Mind

I don't know exactly what Darlene is thinking, she is a normally quiet person. It's been a few weeks since we have learned what she must go through. Me, I'm more of a straight forward person.

Despite the prognosis, when a person you have been with for over 40 years is associated with the "C" word it weighs heavily on you. I have a confident belief in the doctors opinions. Even the oncologist says that it was caught very early, the surgery should take care of everything and with what is going to happen there may not even be a need for chemo or radiation. Darlene has been on Tomoxifen for over a year as a preventive measure for breast cancer due to her family history. The doctor says there may be a drug treatment afterwards but we have to wait on the pathology results.

However, there is still that fear in the back of your mind. I have seen what cancer can do just as probably most of us have felt its effects on a loved one.

I must learn to keep everything in perspective and trust my instincts.

I love that gal.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Rita Wilson and Darlene Grover

Darlene has had her iPad smoking. For a couple of weeks she has been researching everything she can on breast cancer and her upcoming surgery.

Tonight she is watching videos of Rita Wilson and reading about her surgery. She just learned that Rita Wilson just had the same surgery as she is to have next month. Cancer does not discriminate. No matter if you are a famous actress or a software quality analyst we can all suffer from the same diseases and anxieties about what the word cancer means to a person and I assume the same drama of  a life altering or should I say a life saving surgery.

Never thought I'd hear Ron Grover and Tom Hanks used in the same sentence. She was comparing Tom Hanks and I. She said, "Tom Hanks and you have something in common. I like you both."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Boobs and Breast Cancer

Since January 2009 this blog has been focused on parenting an addict. Everything was written from our personal experience. Over this time we learned many lessons, some of them valuable and some very painful. Through it all we always tried to remain focused on a simple question, "What have I learned?" That simple mission is much harder than it seems.

Many of you faithful readers have seen I write less and less. There isn't the drama in our life from drugs and addiction as it was once. We stay involved in the community and I still answer emails and calls. My mission to help others remains strong but for the time being, I don't know for how long, the subject of my blog will change.

The title will remain the same however I will work to find ways to match search links to another subject in addition to drugs, parenting and addict and addiction.

The posts on our blog will now be focused on another member of our family.

"Mom" aka Darlene has been diagnosed with a large tumor and five small tumors in her breast.

One tumor about the size of a thumbnail and there are 5 other very suspicious looking small tumors. In the opinion of two doctors, "Of course, without a biopsy we cannot be sure the large tumor is malignant but all indications from the MRI leads to that conclusion by both of us. The 5 smaller spots are very suspicious and I am very wary of those spots. With your family history, we should look at a complete mastectomy as soon as possible."

The beast of cancer is a family nemesis. The women in mom's family have all fought this battle, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Most have lost their fight. Mother's, Aunts, cousins; they fought and lost, all gone way too early in life, gone carrying a heart full of love.

Due to a very troubled family history Darlene had a genetic test done and she came back negative for the BRKA gene but positive for the CHEK2 gene. Genetically, this is not good. In fact the results came back as a 26-48% chance of breast or colon cancer after the age of 60 and with each successive 5 years of life the percentage rising. Darlene is 57 now.

Today mom's sister is fighting her own battle. She was a 9 year breast cancer survivor but the beast attacked again. On March 25 we celebrated with an "End of Chemo" party for her sister. The chemo is done, now the wait.

On Tuesday, March 24 Darlene went in for an MRI. With her family history mammograms are regular every 6 months but the doctors say they are not enough, MRI's and Ultrasounds are also a part of the diagnostic toolbox. On Thursday, March 26 the day after her sisters celebration the cancer doctor called with an urgency in his voice. The MRI did not show a clear and clean picture. A "mass" was discovered that wasn't there last October during her last mammogram. Darlene's instructions were to call her OB/GYN surgeon immediately. On the following Monday she went to see the OB/GYN doctor. The news was not good.

Today mom had a doctor appointment today with a plastic surgeon. The OB/GYN surgeon and the plastic surgeon must coordinate their schedules for Darlene. 

Soon, in the middle of May, Darlene will be suffering the physical and emotional pain of a complete mastectomy of both breasts. At that time we will know if the tumors are cancerous. 

If the tumors are malignant then other appropriate treatments with be employed, chemo, radiation of whatever the doctors recommend. If they are benign then we can rest assured that the beast of breast cancer will not be a threat the rest of her life.

Darlene will have all the love of a family around her that she can stand but once again we are in a place of very little knowledge and no experience.

The lessons of parenting an addict will serve us well. We learned to appreciate each day what we have instead of living a life bemoaning about what we don't. 

You all know Dad, aka Ron, a recovering control freak. I may be tested but I will not break. Hopefully all of you that supported us in the past can find it in yourself to once again support us on another unknown journey.

Darlene and I have decided to be completely open about this journey just as we learned to be about our last journey. We will continue to chronicle our journey on this blog with hopes that every woman reading this will always perform their self checks and get regular mammograms. For every man reading this we hope you will remind those women in your life that you love them and to make sure they are checked often and regularly. 

If you are reading and searching for support about parenting and addict, you are not alone, we are still here for you. If you are searching for support about breast cancer and how this family is coping, we are not alone either.