Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Pathology Report | Halifax, NS

My followup appointment with the surgeon didn't quite go as planned on Tuesday - he didn't have the pathology report.  I wasn't super surprised by that but was still a little disappointed.  He did check out my incision and seemed pleased with his work and how everything was healing.

The pathology report came in today, though, so we had a phone consultation and he gave me all the news.  First up - no further surgery is required.  Yay!  This means the lymph nodes came back negative and we had the required negative margins on the tumour:  when the tumour is removed, the doctor removes additional tissue surrounding the tumour to ensure all cancerous cells are gone.  When the tumour is tested in the lab, the outskirts (or excess tissue) should all come out as cancer-free, if not another surgery is required.  So yay!  One hurdle down!

My cancer was a stage 1.  This is the first time I've heard that.  Breast cancer stages go from 0 to 4; the lower number the better.  You can read more about stages here.  I had thought it was likely a stage 1 but feared it may be higher.  So another yay!

 My cancer was also "estrogen-receptor positive."  I'm not entirely sure what this means except that the tumour is likely to grow in a high-estrogen environment.  This also indicates what hormone therapy I will be advised to take.

Then there's the negative - the tumour also showed signs of lymphovascular invasion, meaning there are signs of tumours in the blood cells.  In the grand scheme of things, I'm not sure what this means.  I'm still digesting and investigating the information.

My next steps are to meet with a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. I will definitely need radiation and hormone therapy.  Because of my young age (yes, that's what Dr. P said) and the lymphovascular invasion, I may be more inclined to have chemo.  I'm trying to come to terms with that because it scares the stuffing out of me.

 But still... mostly yays for the pathology report, I think.  Now we just wait for the next steps...


email:  karenk{at}

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Post Surgery Tales - Boy Was I High | Halifax, NS

As you know, I woke up crying.  Yay, I made it through!  It took me a while to get the grogginess out, but before long the nurse was getting me up out of bed and on my way.

To help get me up, the nurse put my housecoat on my right arm (the surgery side) and flung the other side around my back.  I asked her to help me get it on.  "No.  Do it yourself."  "Hmmmm, you're kind of mean."  I said it out loud.  I managed to get the housecoat on, but my legs were like jello; surely she would help me out of bed.  "No.  Do it yourself."  "Wow.  You really are mean."  Yep, I said that one out loud, too.  I knew she just wanted me to get started doing things for myself, but I was high and thought it was funny to tell her she was mean.  We had a giggle about it and she gave me a hug before I left.  Turns out she's from Glace Bay and she whispered in my ear, "Us Cape Breton girls have to stick together."

My friend, Dyane, was with the family to greet me after surgery.  She brought me a cute little stuffed bear.  A half hour or so later in the car on the way home, I realized I didn't know if I thanked her for it.  As a matter of fact, I didn't even know if it was intended for me - I may have just seen it in her hands, grabbed it, and got into the car.  It's possible given how high I was.  And really, look how cute it is... it must have been for me. :-)


email:  karenk{at}

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hope | Halifax, NS

I see the surgeon for my follow-up appointment tomorrow.  

Today... I hope.

I hope he has the pathology report.  I hope he tells me the cancer is all gone.  I hope he tells me I don't need chemotherapy.


email:  karenk{at}

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Mother Is My Hero | Halifax, NS

I get my love of writing from my dad.  He has always loved to spin a good tale and give you a chuckle.  For as long as I can remember, I've done the same thing.  I'm not as good a storyteller as he is, but the love is definitely there.

Through my cancer journey, Dad is very much evident in that I want to share my story.  But how I deal with what I'm going through... that's all Mom.  She was diagnosed when she was 44.   Twenty-five years ago, breast cancer wasn't talked about, not everyone had a story about their cousin's best friend's mother who had had breast cancer. There was so much unknown when you went through this.

Mom received her diagnosis, had her surgery, and she was done.  I'm sure she was scared, terrified even, and I'm sure there were plenty of things that happened that I don't know about, but what I do remember is the joking and the laughter that came with recovery.  It was how she (and we as a family) dealt with it.  The one particular moment that has come to my mind so often lately is Dad needing a tissue and asking Mom if she had one in her purse.  Moments go by while she looks with no success.  Suddenly it dawns on her - she is post-surgery and not yet able to wear a prosthesis.  She reaches into her bra, pulls out a tissue and passes it to Dad with a chuckle.  

Life is what it is, this is what's been handed to us.  We cannot change it, our only control is how we deal with it.  It is much easier to laugh at the absurdity of what we are going through than to wallow in it.  These are things I've learned from my parents through their actions - they sure set a great example.

I searched for a photo of Mom and me, but had a hard time finding any.  Why is that?  We'll have to remedy that this summer.  I did come across this one that wasn't taken recently.  We kind of look alike, don't you think?  Lucky me...


email:  karenk{at}