Monday, 7 October 2013

Day 25 (Friday 4 October): Boobies in the surf

I can attest to laughter being the best medicine. I was with some friends today and I was explaining what was going to happen with my surgery, which will involve both a full mastectomy of my left breast and a sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNLB), a procedure in which the sentinel lymph node is identified, removed, and examined to determine whether cancer cells are present.  A negative SLNB result suggests that cancer has not developed the ability to spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. A positive SLNB result indicates that cancer is present in the sentinel lymph node and may be present in other nearby lymph nodes (called regional lymph nodes) and, possibly, other organs. This information can help the doctors determine the stage of the cancer (extent of the disease within the body) and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

I will be in hospital at 8.30a for a lymphosintogram, which is an injection of radioactive substance, a blue dye, or both near the tumor to locate the position of the sentinel lymph node.  I will have to wait a few hours while it works its way to my lymphatic system. 

A few hours later it'll be off to surgery.  As part of the mastectomy, the blue dye is also injected into the breast. The blue dye will travel to the lymph nodes via the lymphatic vessels and the sentinel lymph node(s) should turn blue.Dr. Andrew can see the blue sentinel node(s) and detect the radioactive substance using a type of Geiger counter called a gamma probe. He can then remove the sentinel node(s). If more than one sentinel node is found, all the sentinel nodes are removed. If another enlarged lymph node is found in the armpit without dye in it, he might remove this node as well. If the sentinel node is not in the armpit, the surgeon will remove it if this can be done safely.

The sentinel node is then checked for the presence of cancer cells by a pathologist. If cancer is found, Dr. Andrew will do an "axillary dissection" which involved the removal of additional lymph nodes.

All of this wait-and-see-what-happens is why my hospital stay is quoted from 3-7 days.  

Ok, back to the humour.  We were then talking about the "breast prosthesis" that I will have until the time comes to rebuild lefty.  I was lamenting the fact that it is summer and I'll have to deal with this fake booby when I swim. I then had an image of me coming out of the surf and getting dumped by a wave and the prosthesis being carried away.  We had a huge laugh about about the thought of me calling out: "Somebody grab my boob!".  Ahhh, turning the dark into light can be entertaining.

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