Friday, July 30, 2010

A tube and a boob...

Howdy All!

I went to MD Anderson this morning with Danielle to have my last drain tube removed.  In order to get the drain removed I had to have less than 30 cc's of drainage for 2 days in a row.  My numbers this week were Monday 41 cc's, Tuesday 37 cc's, Wednesday 20 cc's and Thursday 15 cc's.  Jim had been draining the tubes at night for me.  He's the best murse (male nurse).  I was excited Wednesday night when I was less than 30 cc's.  I called MDA Thursday morning to see if someone in the Plastic Surgery Department could remove my drainage tube on Friday (so I didn't have to go through the weekend with it, plus Dr. Skoracki wanted it out as soon as it was below 30 cc's for 2 days).  The triage nurse told me she'd have to wait to hear my Thursday numbers before she could book an appointment for me.  She also told me that I may start draining more again.  Wah!!

But low and behold last night my drainage numbers were at 15 cc's.  I was ready!!!  I called first thing this morning (the earliest I've been up in a while).  The nurse took my info and said she'd have to check and see if she could fit me in this morning.  Thought it would take a while for her to call me back but she called me back right away.  Brenda was her name, asked me what time I could be there.  I told her 10:30 and she said okay great see you then.

I got to see Gordon, (the PA who I saw pre-op with Dr. Skoracki and who assisted during the reconstruction phase of my surgery and who saw me post-op).  I really like Gordon, he's a very personable guy.  He asked me when my surgery was, July 14th I told him.  He then told me that it had been long enough since surgery but he'd have to look at me first but that he probably could go ahead and expand me.  I told him I had an appointment with Dr. Skoracki next Tuesday and I thought he was expanding me then, Gordon said he would go ahead and change that appointment for next Thursday then.

Let me explain what expanding means.  During the mastectomy all the breast tissue is removed by the Surgeon (Dr. Hunt), then the Plastic Surgeon (Dr. Skoracki) comes in and places a tissue expander in (which is basically a saline implant).  The tissue expander is filled with as much saline as your skin will tolerate at that time.  Then you go weekly or every other week to have more cc's of saline added to your tissue expander.  The skin needs to be expanded so that when you go into your final reconstruction stages an actual implant is placed.  It's all very interesting.  Never thought I would ever know this much about breast reconstruction but I know I'll be learning much more as we go along.

So Gordon had me lay back and he pulled out my drain tube.  I didn't even feel it.  I had to ask him if he was done.  Then he went and got an expander kit, I laid back down.  He used a magnet to find the port to which the saline is placed in.  I was a little worried that it may hurt.  Thankfully it was painless, he put a bandaid on where he had put the butterfly needle in and up I sat.  I felt fine.  Gordon also told me that all my scars were healing up nicely and that I could finally take a full shower in 24 hours.

The total visit today was an hour and that was including our waiting time.  I'd say today was a very successful day at MDA for us!!!

Tomorrow I can start my breast exercises for women without drain tubes.

Tomorrow I also start the half marathon training program I've signed up for.  I'll be walking it this year, don't want to overdo it.

The boys and I are home this weekend.  I have some of my Ladybug friends coming in from Austin tomorrow.  Jim is driving to Kansas to pick up our baby girl from Mom and Dad's and to go to his high school class reunion.  Please pray for safe travels.

I have been feeling really well.  I've been taking it easy and concentrating on healing.  We have been extremely blessed by family and friends.  And are so incredibly thankful for all the messages you have been leaving us.  We are also thankful for the meals that have been brought to us -- you have no idea how much help that has been to our family.

Please remember to thank God for this journey we are on -- through Him ALL things are possible.

I have learned of two other young women this week who are battling breast cancer right now - Stacie and Tiffany.  I pray that this journey for them is one that comes with many blessings too.

I am immensely blessed!!!!!!!!!!!

Don't forget that I've started a team, the Ladybug Warriors (there are boy Ladybugs too) for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure , please consider joining my team or donating to this great cause!!

May God Bless You All!  Have an Awesome weekend!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Friday, July 23, 2010

The Results are in...

Hi there!

Got a call this afternoon at 3:43 from Lynn Grimes at Dr. Hunt's (Surgeon) office.

Here is the report with my results:
-no evidence of residual cancer tumor in the left breast
-no cancer in the 30-31 lymph nodes removed
-evidence of treatment to the one lymph node that I had the biopsy on, no cancer

Lynn said this is what they call "complete response to chemo".  I thanked her for the awesome news and told her now I could have a good weekend.  She said that it was the best kind of report.

I was nervous originally when the phone rang and I picked it up.  Lynn had said she had the results and asked if I was ready for them.  I went and got a pen and paper.  When she said it was a good report I stopped holding my breath.

They call it a complete response to chemo -- I call it healing by the Great Physician.  He brought those amazing MD Anderson Doctors, Nurses, Nurses' Aides, Techs, Phlebotomists, everyone there into my life.

Danielle and I met with Dr. Skoracki (Plastic Surgeon) yesterday.  He removed the drain that was draining the breast.  He also said that I was healing nicely and that my dressings no longer need to be changed, only the one over the lymphatic drain.  I should be getting that lymphatic drain out early next week.

I'm not in much pain anymore, I take the minimum amount of pain meds.  I do the exercises that the Dr.'s have told me to do.

So the next step is Radiation.  I don't know exactly when I'll be starting it but I have a meeting with Dr. Perkins (Radiation Oncologist) on August 2nd as well as with Dr. Green (Oncologist).  I will let you know the plans as I find out myself.

Wanted to also invite you to join my team the Ladybug Warriors, for the Houston Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on October 2.  You can walk or run.  If you can't join the team please consider donating to this worthy cause of finding a cure for Breast Cancer.  Here is the link

Thank you for your prayers!  Please join me in praising our Awesome God!

Love you all!!

Love and Blessings from the Top of my Heart,
Moni, Breast Cancer Survivor

Saturday, July 17, 2010

3 days post-op...


I'm home!  I was discharged from the hospital at 9:15 on Thursday morning -- I was in there less than 24 hours.  The mastectomy, the lymphadenectomy, the removal of the porta-cath and the insertion of the tissue expander went well.  No complications during surgery or after thus far.

Jim, Mom and Linda were with me at the hospital.  A long day of waiting for them.  The surgery lasted about 4 1/2 - 5 hours.  It felt like I fell asleep and woke up a minute later.  Dr. Hunt (surgeon) was not able to come out and talk to them after her part of the surgery, she had another one to attend to.  So Jim, Mom and Linda waited patiently.  Finally Dr. Skoracki (plastic surgeon) came out and told them all went well.

Jim, Mom and Linda all came to see me separately while I was in recovery.  Apparently I was pretty "drugged" up.  My conversations went in and out a little as I took little naps in between.  Once I was fully awake it was time to move me to an observation room.

Jim and Mom made sure I got settled into the room which was about 8 o'clock, stayed a while and then went home.  Linda stayed with me overnight to make sure everything ran smoothly and to make sure I was being well taken care of.  Which of course I was.

Dad stayed home with Jakob, Kelli and Joey -- they were all relieved when they heard that I was doing well after surgery.

Jim had to be back up at the hospital the next morning by 7 so they could get ready to discharge me.  Not a very good night's sleep for him.  It wasn't for Linda and I either, the nurse came in every 4 hours to empty my drains and check my incisions.  We watched a video on how to empty the drains and care for the wounds and then it was time to go.

I have to tell you I have the 2 best home health nurses around.  Jim and Mom.  They are so gentle.  I've always known how much they love me but even more so now.  They empty out my 2 drains 2 times a day and change the dressings on my incisions 2 times a day also.  I have 4 incisions, 3 of which need to be cleaned twice a day.  I have the mastectomy incision, the lymphadenectomy incision and the drain incisions.  They clean me with a water/hydrogen peroxide mixture and then put an iodine ointment on the wound and bandage me back up again.  My two drains also need to be emptied and measured.  Jakob has been in charge of taking my temperature.

It's not a very glamorous process -- the first time Jim and Mom cleaned me up I was very humbled by the care and love they were giving me.

Jim and Mom have been really good about making sure that I take my pain meds on schedule.  We don't want the pain to get ahead of us.

I got to have a sponge shower this morning - that was a nice fresh feeling.

I'm doing really well considering I had some major surgery just 3 days ago.  I go back to see Dr. Skoracki on the 22nd.  He may possibly be able to remove one or both of my drains that day.

In about a week I will be receiving a final pathology report with what they found in the breast tissue and the lymph nodes.  Please pray that all comes back clear.

Thank you all for your kind messages.  But thank you most of all for your support, thoughts and prayers.  I really wouldn't have been able to make it this far without those.

I pray that this message finds you all well.  Please continue to pray for a healthy recovery for me.

Also please pray for safe travels back home to Kansas for Mom and Dad on Monday.  They will also be taking Kelli and my nephew Michael back with them.  Joey will be going to spend some time in Austin with his best buddy - please pray for safety for him too.

May God Bless you all!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Update on Moni's surgery

Just met with Moni's surgeon...she is out of surgery and in recovery. The surgery lasted a little over four hours and everything went extremely smooth. Thank you for the continued prayers!


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ready for surgery...

Good evening!!

I have had the most amazing 2 days!!  It's the night before my surgery -- it's late but I wanted to share some good news with you.   Actually great news!!!

On Monday I had a marathon day of appointments at MD Anderson.  Here's what appointments I had.  Mammogram, blood work, EKG, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, anesthesia assessment, meeting with my sweet research nurse, appointment with Dr. Hunt (Surgeon) and then finally appointment with Dr. Green (Oncologist).  Whew!!

The great news is that the mammogram showed that the original mass is no longer identified by mammography, but that these findings can be confirmed with breast ultrasound.  That was yesterday.

Well today I had the breast ultrasound...the ultrasound tech apologized for taking so long on the ultrasound but she said it was hard to do an ultrasound when it looks like there's nothing there.  The Radiologist then came in and confirmed that there no longer appears to be a mass.


Of course if there is any cancer left in my breast it's coming out tomorrow with the mastectomy.

Today I met with Dr. Skoracki (plastic surgeon), he feels confident that he will have no problem reconstructing my breast.

Yesterday I met a lady up at MDA that was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer 6 years ago and has been cancer free for 5 years now.  Praise God for that!!!

My Mother-in-law (Mom) and Father-in-law (Dad) came in today.  Mom is going to come to the hospital with Jim, Linda and of course me.  Dad's going to stay at the house and hang out with the kids.

I will be checking in for surgery at 11:30 tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and surgery will be at 1:30.  Please pray for Dr. Hunt and Dr. Skoracki, the Anesthesiologist, the nurses, the nurses' aides, anyone whom I will come in contact with tomorrow.

I will be having a mastectomy on my left side as well as a lymphadenectomy (removal of all my lymph nodes under my left arm).  The tissue that Dr. Hunt takes out will be sent to pathology and they will get back to me with their findings in about 2 weeks.  Then Dr. Skoracki will place a tissue expander in my breast.  Surgery begins at 1:30 (central time) and will last about 4 hours.  Please pray for me.

Once Jim has gotten word that I am out of surgery he will let y'all know by posting something on here.

I will be spending Wednesday night in the hospital and will come home Thursday morning.

This is such an exciting time!  I can't wait to be able to say after my surgery that I am now cancer free!!!

Thank you Jesus for allowing me to be on this journey.  You ARE the Great Physician!  You have given me so much throughout this journey.  Not only have You been with me -- You have given me the most amazing support group of family and friends.  I love you Jesus and I trust that You will not leave my side tomorrow or ever.  In Your Holy Name I pray, AMEN!!!

Good night prayer warriors!!!

I love you!

Love and blessings from the top of my heart,


Friday, July 9, 2010

Great Smoky Mountain Adventure...

Howdy y'all!

We just got back this evening from a great family camping vacation.

We had so much fun!  We went to the Smoky Mountains.  If you know me you know I'm not much of a risk taker.  I like to feel safe and secure.  We did something as a family that I never thought I would do...white water rafting.  It was a 6 mile guided rafting experience with class 1-5 rapids.  Wow!!!  I did almost back out before we left the campground.  Our guide was awesome -- Sergeant Norton!  We were going through a rapid called "Lost Guide".  We asked Norton if he had ever gotten lost in it, he said, "no". The rapid had two levels, Jakob and I fell into the boat and Joey started falling out -- Sergeant Norton grabbed him and the next thing I see is Jim's face in front of me and he's saying, "where'd he go?"  I looked back because I thought Joey fell out.  Then I realized our guide was missing and we were in a class 4 rapid in a raft.  We really couldn't see him.  All of the sudden Norton popped up on one side of the raft, then he was gone again and then he popped up on  the other side and finally he was able to get in.  Sergeant Norton saved Joey's life!!  Jim and I were talking on the way back to the campground wondering what Sergeant Norton told his next rafting tour when they got to "Lost Guide".
We also went to the The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and hiked up a 2.2 mile trail to Hen Wallow Falls.  We also went to the highest point in the Smokies, Clingmans Dome.  There's a beautiful drive up the mountain, you park and walk up a .5 mile path.  That was hard.  A couple of times I told Jim and the kids to go ahead and I would wait but then I would think to myself, "you went through  chemo -- you can do this".  I'm so glad I continued.
Once at the top the elevation was 6643 feet.  A view of God's magnificent creation!!

We also went to Asheville, North Carolina and got to visit the amazingly beautiful Biltmore Estate.  We toured the house and the grounds as well as the winery.  Jim and I did some wine tasting, which was also a first for me.  After the Biltmore we went to one of the Travel Channel's top McDonald's.  Jakob noticed it and remembered it from a show we watched a couple of years ago.  The "Most Elegant" McDonald's in the top ten McDonald's.  Next we went and listened to some Bluegrass at "The Fiddlin' Pig".  What a fun day!

Other things we did were Hard Rock Cafe in Gatlinburg, gokart racing at Nascar Speedpark, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, car tour of Cades Cove, Chattanooga Choo-Choo, ate at some great restaurants, made smores, went swimming, stayed in a hotel in downtown Memphis and we made some new friends from Ontario, Canada!

It's always nice to go on vacation and it's always nice to be home sweet home!

This weekend will be spent getting stuff put up from our trip.  Lot's of laundry -- you know how it is when you come back from vacation.

On Monday and Tuesday my days are filled with pre-op appointments at MD Anderson.  Wednesday is the day of my mastectomy.

Please praise God for our safe travels and enjoyable vacation.  Please also pray for the Doctors, Nurses and other medical staff whose care I will be in next week for my pre-op appointments as well as my surgery.

My wonderful in-laws (Mom and Dad) are coming to help take care of us next week.  I have such a wonderful support group.  Thank you to all of you who pray for us and think about us.

I am a little nervous about the surgery but I know that I am in great hands and that God will be directing everything.  I just realized tonight that Wednesday is only 5 days away!!   The battle continues to get rid of this cancer.  Thank you for being by my side!!!

I love you all!!!

Love and Blessings from the top of my heart,