Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Moving forward

In my last post I expressed frustration with the slow process of biopsy, diagnosis, meeting with surgical oncologist, etc, etc. This week that has all changed. My life has turned into a complete whirlwind and you will have to excuse me if I don't make sense or mumble.

Tuesday afternoon I met with the surgical oncologist at Huntsman Cancer Institute. We waited forever in the waiting room, but it was worth it. I was there for almost 4 hours. First, I was hustled up to Radiology for another ultrasound. This time they looked at my lymph nodes. I then met with the Surgeon, NP, and Nurse and we thoroughly discussed my options. Next was some bloodwork and finally I filled a script for Ambien. Ahhhhh, sleep.

I now have A LOT to think about, but at least I have a plan which is empowering. My next step is to have one of my lymph nodes biopsied. I will do this tomorrow. A lymph node probably should have been biopsied at the same time as my tumor two weeks ago, but because my tumor was not suspicious this was not done. This biopsy will be significant in that if it comes back positive I certainly will need chemotherapy. If it is negative, I may not. Here's hoping for a negative biopsy! I am also meeting with a genetic counselor tomorrow to discuss the implications if my genetic testing for BRCA 1/BRCA 2 gene is positive. Then on Monday I am having an MRI. My hope for this test is that it will show my current tumor and nothing else. We are doing this to try to find a screening tool that works for me since mammogram does not. We are also looking for anything else that looks suspicious. I also want to consult with a lymphedema therapist as to try and prevent any future post-op lymphedema. This two week whirlwind will culminate with surgery on February 14th. Happy Valentine's Day to me and Shannon! The current surgical plan is lumpectomy which is a pretty simple outpatient procedure. The amount of lymph nodes to be removed will be determined by tomorrow's biopsy. After the surgery a pathologist will look at all of the lymph nodes removed for any sign of cancer. If they are all negative, no chemo. Here's to negative lymph nodes again! It is certain that I will need local radiation post-surgery though.

All of this changes if the genetic test for BRCA 1/BRCA 2 gene is positive.

On top of all of this I have gone to work, ridden the trainer, lifted weights, done yoga, and attended puppy school this week. Life certainly doesn't get any slower when you have cancer.

A few things of significance this week.....First, I keep saying I did this and I did that. Really it is WE. Shannon has been there every step of the way. I can't even describe how fortunate I am to have him in my life. I love you Shannon! I have also quickly learned how important it is to have support from friends and family. Thank you everyone for all the love and support. It means so much.

Also, on Monday I had the opportunity to speak with Annabeth Eberle. She is one of the University of Utah Gymnastics team most decorated athletes. She is a phenomenal person as well. She also had breast cancer. I found this out on Facebook of all places and I got in touch with her. She immediately emailed me back and eventually we spoke on the phone. She was incredibly open with me and did not sugar coat anything; just the way I like it. Although I realize that our paths for curing cancer will be very different, she gave me hope. A lot of it. I can not thank her enough.

When I look in the mirror I do not see a person with cancer. I see a strong, athletic woman who takes care of her body. All of the "things" you are supposed to do to prevent cancer, I already do. I often wonder why I am going to put my healthy appearing body through hell. In fact I sometimes wonder if there was just a mix up in pathology. That said, I accept our 'plan' to treat cancer. I am ready to move forward.

Last weekend I escaped to St. George for some on-the-bike therapy


  1. Still sending our best thoughts and prayers to you and Shannon. Glad you're moving forward. We wouldn't expect anything less from you.

  2. Hey Jen, I saw a link to your blog on Facebook via Heather Gilbert. (She "liked" it and it showed up on my wall.) Feel free to contact me to pick my brain about lymphedema. I've not been actively practicing since before I was at Granite, but would be happy to try to offer you information. Wishing you all good things! Nicole Kilgos, OT
    PS: If you want to contact me, do so through FB and I'll pass my phone # and email on to you.

  3. Jen, this is awesome. Great post. I am inspired by you! I did my self exam last night and I had my entire Wednesday night lifegroup that I lead pray for you and your quick recovery. Thanks for letting me share your story. Love from California!!!

  4. Here's to being negative! Hope there is lots more MTB therapy in your (near)future. Best wishes.

  5. Jen and Shan - you're both awesome. Cutest couple EVER! Thank you for sharing your story, as you'll find though this process- you have more strength than you ever knew. We'll all cheering for you, cowbells and everything! Go negative on the tests!!!! Love