Friday, February 18, 2011


I have been quietly anxious about surgery most of the week. My stomach has been upset and I have had no appetite. I even thought that perhaps I was getting sick. Turns out it really was just nerves as I feel fine now.

Yesterday I followed my pre-op instructions to call the surgery scheduler between 2-4 PM to find out my time of sugery. I was told to be at the hospital at 6:00 AM and that my surgery would start at 7:30.

6:00 AM in the waiting room

I know that sounds really early, but I was quite happy to be the first surgery of the day.

At 4:00 PM on Thursday I decided to call my nurse. She had called me earlier in the day and I had returned a message but had not heard anything back. Normally, I would have tried calling every 10 minutes, but I am working on not being too annoying of a patient:) (Note: I have questions and call my nurse on an almost daily basis. She is always very patient with me).

When I got hold of her at 4:00 she asked how my marking went. What marking? I guess I was supposed to see the radiologist to get my tumor marked the day before the surgery. Oops, I had no idea. Fortunately I live 10 minutes away from Huntsman and I drove very quickly (to Shannon's dismay) to meet the radiologist. The radiologist then used the ultrasound to identify the tumor(s) and marked my breast with magic marker. I thought it was kind of funny that it was so urgent that I get 'marked' with magic marker. I probably could have done that myself! (I kid).

On to today. We woke up early and I took a final shower before we headed to Hunstman. No breakfast or water for me and my mouth felt like sandpaper by the time we arrived to the hospital.

I lucked out and got the pre-op 'room with a view' and watched the sunrise over Salt Lake while I was greeted individually by the wonderful and professional team that would be handling me in surgery. The young and friendly anesthesiologist, Sonia, placed my IV and we discussed anesthesia options. Initially we discussed using heavy sedation with a mask which was quite appealing, however once I decided to donate a small amount of bone marrow to cancer research it was decided that general anesthesia with full intubation was warranted. I expressed my concern for becoming nauseous because basically I had been nauseous all week. Sonia told me that they would take precautions against nausea. I am not sure exactly what they did, but I have not had any nausea since I woke up.....and my appetite is back:)

Final meditation/visualization before surgery

I also talked at length with my surgeon, Dr. Neumayer. I have not hidden my concern for removing lymph nodes from her. We discussed exactly what was going to happen. First, a sentinel lymph node biopsy would be done. Dr. Neumayer injects a radioactive substance that basically leads her to the sentinel lymph node(s). These are the first nodes that lymph drain to in the axillary area. While she is working on the lumpectomy a pathologist quickly looks at these nodes for any sign of cancer. This quick 'look' is 90% accurate, so the lymph nodes would also be sent off for further testing post-op. If cancer was detected, she was going to have to remove more lymph nodes, however she promised me no more than 6. I was told that when I woke up I would have a drain if my lymph nodes tested positive for cancer. If they were negative, no drain.

The first thing I remember about waking up was speaking with a women. In all honesty, I have no idea who it was (I have a hunch that it was the NP). I immediately asked if I had a drain. The women replied that I must be pretty coherent if I was asking that, and no, I did not have a drain. I was so happy....and groggy. I then proceeded to tell her that I had been dreaming about blogging. I don't remember anything else.

I was then in the PACU recovering. The nurse there was very nice and took my vital signs a million times. I was getting anxious to see Shannon and was finally released to short-stay recovery. That nurse checked my vital signs and then left me alone for a few minutes. When she came back I was scrambling around the room. She asked what I was doing and I told her that I was looking for a phone so I could call my husband. I guess I should have just asked because she immediately got him. She then took my vitals a few more times and then that was it, my discharge instructions were reviewed, I got dressed, and we went home.

Sooooo happy to have water post-op, notice the phone right behind my head. I never found it.

Overall, I have felt really good today. I do tire easily, but I suppose I should not be trying to do house chores quite yetJ. Surgery went as well (or better) than I could have hoped for thus far. I am very grateful for the fantastic staff at Huntsman that took such good care of me today.

I am stuck in a bulky bandage until Sunday. I see the lymphedema therapist in 10 days and return to see my surgeon in two weeks. I will also be scheduled to meet with the medical oncologist to discuss systemic treatment. This is not a huge hurry as treatment can’t begin until the surgery site heals. In the meantime, test results should be trickling in.

Bandaging comes off Sunday

I have not needed to take a single pain pill yet! My surgeon told me I could do physical activity as my body allows. She is confident that I will be able to ride dirt in St. George in two weeks! My new bike is almost built as I write!

It is 9:00 at night and Shannon has spent his entire day taking care of me. He is just getting on the trainer right now. I am so fortunate to have such a dedicated husband who sacrifices so much to take care of me. We are really in this together.

Enough (probably incoherent) babbling for now. Please continue to send positive thoughts my way and for that matter in the direction of all people fighting cancer. All the positive energy is obviously working and I know some people who could really use it.


  1. I found your blog by doing a search for "athletes & breast cancer". I am a cyclist/nordic skier in Boulder, CO who was recently diagnosed and just had a lumpectomy last week. Our situations are very similar. Support groups have been helpful, but no one is athletic! I'm sending positive thoughts your way and please let me know if you'd like to chat.

  2. Great update Jen! I am so glad that everything is going as well as can be expected. Keep the posts coming and we will keep sending the positive energy.

    P.S. Tell us more about your new bike on the next post ;)

  3. Great news, keep healing and resting. :)

  4. Cathy, My email is We should talk!

  5. Great news, Jen. Thinking about you!

  6. I am so glad that you are doing well. Don't worry about the house stuff it will still be there another day. Just rest - we are thinking of you! :)

  7. Hi Jenn, you are are an inpiration to me. I was diagnosed a week ago and will see a surgeon on Friday. I am a very active person, not quite the athlete you are, but was totally caught off guard. Many positive thoughts are coming your way!