All I can Do is Smile


The Bitch is Back

Perhaps some of you have noticed that I went a little radio silent on the 2nd biopsy results — or didn’t realize that my big benign announcement was only for the 1st biopsy.

Let’s just go ahead and pull the band-aid off.

The 2nd biopsy came back malignant.

I start chemotherapy on Friday, March 17. Yeah, that’s four days from now.

How did we get here? During my routine check-up, something popped up on the CT scan, so I was then sent to have a PET scan. As mentioned in a previous post, the PET scan news was not great.

We still went on our 2-week trip to Oregon, then came home and started the testing. Week 1 was the CT-guided biopsy. Week 2 results, clear! Week 3, was the endoscopic ultrasound, and we got the preliminary results that the biopsy was malignant.

(sidenote: Technically this was 5 weeks of waiting for test results at various time, and needless to say the emotional toll it took on my was palpable. Depression definitely reared its ugly head, and I can’t thank my psychiatrist and psychologist enough for their guidance during those weeks.)

Of course, I jumped into action, emailing my doctor to essentially say “okay, let’s get something going,” to which I got the reply from his nurse that the results had not hit my chart yet, they have no record of the results and therefore, we would have to wait.

Fucking waiting again. That’s the give and take with the Kaiser machine. You take the good with the bad.

Last Monday, I got confirmation in my inbox (which, by the way GI doc, that’s kind of a shitty way to tell someone, though I shouldn’t be surprised since you were the same guy who told me the preliminary diagnosis while I was in the recovery room still high AF from my sedation drugs.)

Game on.

I called the oncology nurse and left a message there. I called the appointment center and had them send a message to my oncologist (they have to reply to that system within 24 hours whereas if I email him from my system, they have 48 — I’ve picked up some tricks). And then, out of sheer frustration for not being able to get a live human, I texted my former oncologist a novel letting her know what was going on and if there was any way for her to help. She actually took the time to text the oncology nurse to try to get a response there and then called me to talk about what was going on. (I still love that women and damn Portland for taking her away from me.)

There were a lot of missed calls and back and forth, but ultimately I got an appointment with the doc yesterday, and had a long conversation with the oncology nurse (we might as well just name her — Patti — she gets shit done) the week prior to prep for the talk with the doctor.

So here’s how it’s all going down.


  • It will be a 3 week cycle like last time, and 6 rounds, also like last time
  • After the 3rd round, we’ll take a scan and see how we’re progressing
  • My chemo will in intravenous only, with Day 1 being carboplatin + gemzar, Day 8 being only gemzar, and then a week off. (I’m actually stoked that my days have turned out to be Fridays, because that gives me the weekend to recover and hopefully continue to work.)
  • I will not lose my hair. Pretty cool.

My doctor feels very confident that I’ll get back in remission. But if I don’t, that we have an arsenal of treatments to choose from before we get into some of the targeted therapy things.

So, for now, we’ll just see how I handle the first round.

I am again organized with ways you can help. More items will be added soon, I just need to get ready for Friday.





There’s been some movement on information for the boobs. (My post title is a joke taken from Honest Trailers. Head down the YouTube rabbit hole watching those. They are hilarious.)

Moving along…

I met with the breast specialist (Dr. Washington) on Monday and the plastic surgeon (Dr. Tuchler) yesterday. I immediately liked them both. We went over all the options and information, and they’ve given me quite a bit to consider.

It’s AMAZING having the luxury of time for my prophylactic surgery. With no sense of urgency, I can plan (sweet, glorious control) how and when this will all occur. Tentatively, it will sometime next year.

Surprisingly, I am a candidate for nipple sparing! This increases the risk of cancer just slightly (from 1-2% to 3%) and I have a choice of entry point for the implant and/or expander (from below, where the breast meets the body; or from the side like a spoke out of my nipple).

I’m also a candidate to have immediate reconstruction with the double mastectomy (read Komen’s information about the options, which was my original source and one both doctors approved of). Even further, if I don’t want to increase my bust size, Dr. Tuchler tells me he can put an implant in immediately and potentially reduce the number of surgeries I’d have to endure. They MAY have to adjust the implant after the fact anyway, so it’s not a guarantee that I wouldn’t need another surgery. I’m thinking long and hard about the pros and cons of a larger cup size… expansion of the skin & muscle to increase the bust will take 3-4 months.

There’s also a bunch of different implants to consider.

So glad to have the time to think! I’ll share more later.


The end of the chapter

I’ll start with the important news: yesterday’s surgery went perfectly and that damn port is GONE! I felt pretty fantastic yesterday, but today am feeling far more sore. Probably because, in feeling so good, I was like “Look! I can stretch! Look! I can straighten! Watch me as a reach for things above my head!”

After being hunched over the past 2 weeks, this was pretty dang exciting.

Today, there won’t be any reaching or stretching.

The surgical site looks great. My doctor used the same incision area from when the port was placed (1.5″ wide on the right side above my ribs). Sidenote: I JUST realized a few days ago that my port was on my PORT side. Nautical humor. Ba dum ching.

Even with the confirmation of a clear CT scan, the removal of the port it what makes the end of this cancer experience real. I feel whole once again.

This week is all about recovery, because next week, I’m back at work full time. (SOOOOO excited!) There are still some visits scheduled with my oncologist (post-op next week, and then the first post-chemo follow-up to confirm a true NED mid-month) as well as the breast specialist, starting with a breast MRI the 3rd week of July.

So, while things with my body aren’t actually DONE yet (and won’t be for some time), I feel like the hard part is over. Here’s to hoping that’s true.


Surgery (#3) is scheduled

Port-removal surgery is officially set for Monday, June 27. I won’t know the actual time until the day before (what’s up with that?!) but the procedure should be short and sweet. Or, rather, just short. Recovery time should be minimal. The side the port is on will be sore since there has likely been some scar tissue accumulation over the past 6 months.

Speaking of which, I totally aggravated the port side with the increased use of my core muscles. Argh! I have to back off of exercise until the pain subsides. Trying to figure out what I CAN do without using my core… that’s a tough one.

Calve raises?

I got nothing.


The Biopsy

Fasting all day for an appointment sucks. SUUUUUUUCKS. Especially when you’re trying to be a functioning adult. (I’ve started taking on more projects with my job, as I ease back into full time work come July.) I hit the wall shortly before we had to leave for the appointment, which was just as well. I donned the most comfortable clothes I own and off we went.

Fasting all day sucks. Fasting sucks even more when you learn the surgeon performing your biopsy is still finishing up his first case from the morning and there are three people ahead of you.

Silver lining: since I was so focused on being hungry and what I planned eating after the biopsy, that there wasn’t much brain energy left for worrying. I only snapped out of hanger at my husband once, when he brought his freshly cooked lunch into the office we share. I consider these both wins.

We made the best of the wait, me powering through a new book, and Kenji watching a cycling race (no surprise there). The nurses, as usual, were attentive and kept me stocked in warm blankets.

The actual procedure didn’t take too long. I’ve never had a biopsy before, let alone a CT-guided one. I did not have to drink the icky fluid of previous CT scans, but they did sedate me for this one (I was awake, just VERY relaxed, and happy — yay happy juice).

The radiologist scanned me a few times so the doc could decide how he wanted to go at the cyst and we learned that one of the three had disappeared! (FUCK YES!!!!) Then, onto the business at hand. They aspirated the cyst on the left side of my abdomen and told me it was all liquid (good thing) and a normal color (also a good thing). The other cyst was in a place not easily accessible and right near my aorta, so they are only testing this one. In theory, they look the same, so they should be of the same make-up.

I should have results in about 3 days, if my doctor decides to call me with the outcome, which she typically has. Else, I have a follow up with her next Tuesday and I’ll know more then. Clearly, I’m hoping for news sooner rather than later.

You’ll know more when I know more! Go out and kick this week’s ass!


The Final Countdown

Start by pressing play above. Now, you are ready to read.

Round 6 begins next week. The FINAL round. The FINAL weeks of sucktitude. The FINAL push to the end of this particularly crazy chapter in my life.

Also, the final shifts are up for grabs, sign up!

We met with Dr. Tierney who is thrilled with my progress — in her words, I’ve “handled more than most people are able to.” (sidenote: She’s 10 days YOUNGER than me. How’s that for some shit? Clearly, the woman is a genius. Or as Kenji said, “I feel woefully unaccomplished.”)

Just before Round 5, I started getting neuropathy in my feet. We’re hopeful it’s only temporary, since it started late in the chemo game, and I’ve been combating it as best as possible with massage and reflexology. Only time will tell.

Speaking of time, we nailed down some timelines for my post-treatment game plan. Here’s what we anticipate:

  • 2-3 weeks post-chemo will be my CT scan & CA-125 blood test
  • Pending results, port removal surgery will occur 2-3 weeks after that. It’s an out-patient surgery, so it should be easy.

Then I can resume normal life until we have to deal with the boobies. I am so ready.