Two of my girlfriends from Circle of Hope happen to have had the same plastic surgeon that I have. They each underwent a different breast reconstruction procedure. I asked if we could meet up so they could show me what their breasts look and feel like. I was able to ask whatever questions could help me make my decision.
The Monday before last, Mark and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Cheng, and he went over my recent MRI with us. The tumor appears clearly smaller than it was in August, but as the doctor says, the MRI is just a picture. You can’t be sure how much the cancer has gone away until you remove the breast.
Dr. Cheng also wanted to make sure I was aware that if my neutrophils remain low, my chemo may not go as scheduled. Before my 8th treatment, my levels were the lowest so far at 1.03. Dr. Cheng said if that it goes down to 1.00, my treatment would have to be postponed. Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell. They provide immunity to infection, but chemotherapy wipes them out along with the cancer cells. I asked if there is anything that I could eat or take to make them come back, and he pretty much said no. He told me that the only thing to make my levels go up is to rest and stay away from people who are sick.
Mark did a little research and found that maybe vitamin B12 or folate could help. So we have been eating a lot of leafy greens for the folate, and making linguine with clams and also calf’s liver with bacon for the B12. Who knows if this will help, but I am willing to eat whatever it takes to keep things going effectively.
I did not go to the YMCA at all last week. I have been watching a whole lot of TV — things like Anthony Bourdain, Hawaii Life, Parks and Recreation, Justified, The Australian Open, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.
After eating this way and taking it really easy, I was able to receive treatment number 10. My neutrophil level was at 1.06, so not high by any means, but just enough to squeak by. Now I have only two treatments left, and I hope that I’m able to keep right on track.
We met with my plastic surgeon this week, and I have made my mind up to have the DIEP flap procedure. This is where they use my tummy tissue to reconstruct my breasts. So if my next two treatments go as scheduled, I will have surgery 4 weeks later. My surgeon will perform a double mastectomy along with the axillary lymph node dissection, then my plastic surgeon will put in the temporary tissue expanders that will remain through radiation. Then, about a year later, I will have the DIEP flap procedure completed.
I feel much better today having made this decision and having everything moving forward. I just need to stay strong and healthy to keep things moving smoothly.