Sunday, August 10, 2014

N-word wounds - a cautionary tale

I met with my general surgeon, and I only found out what stage I'm at, really. Stage 3B. More officially, I'm a pT4bpN2a. Basically, the pT4b refers to my boob and the pN2a refers to my lymph nodes. I know I'll probably butcher the explanation, but I'll do my best. The cancer in my boob was very widespread, but there was a tumor in there that was at least 2cm in diameter, in addition to the calcification star thingeys all over. And...it had spread and broken out through the skin in my nipple. I hadn't told you guys this part yet, because talking about nipples is really embarrassing for me. 

But it really is a cautionary tale, so I feel I should share. If I can give anyone knowledge that they can have and share, I need to get it out there.  

Back in December, I was ready to get into the shower, and there was a piece of lint stuck on my nipple. I was all, "Weird," and plucked it off. If started bleeding. Again, weird. I shrugged and got into the shower.

And it just wouldn't heal, you guys. It never bled again, but it was just this open wound. I thought maybe it hadn't the chance to heal, because really, we wear stuff over our boobs all the time. You know how, when you were little, your mom was all, "You need to take your band-aid off tonight so the scrape on your knee can air out and heal"? That's what I felt the problem was. So for that first couple of months, I would use lansinoh nipple cream on it and wear a breast feeding pad, because if I didn't, my nipple would stick to my bra or shirt and then I would have to rip it off. Pain. And then I slept topless so it could air out. It would do great and heal, but then a couple of weeks later, it would open up again. 

I finally got so sick of it one Saturday night that I went to an insta-care. The doc was like,"Maybe it's an infection? Take this antibiotic, and if it doesn't work, call a dermatologist." Took the antibiotic;
didn't heal. Went to my now ex-dermy. He was like, "I have no idea. Go to your gynie." Went to the gynie. She had no idea. She prescribed me special nipple cream. It seemed to be working. Then it opened up again. This process took several months.  Then I found my lump, and you know the rest.

So in my pathology report, they said that my nipple wound was cancer that had broken clear through the skin. I didn't have some random nipple wound. I had breast cancer. Which manifested itself in December. Which means I had it long before then.

I had always heard that nipple discharge was a sign of cancer, but I had no discharge. Just like a skinned knee that wouldn't scab. So I just want anyone out there who reads this to know that this is one of the signs. Gosh, where would I be if I had taken this more seriously? Maybe I'd still have breasts. Maybe I wouldn't be facing chemo. Maybe it wouldn't have traveled to my lymph nodes and who knows where else.

Kay, so the lymph node part. They found cancer in 4 of my 31 lymph nodes that got taken out of my armpit. I think that's a good sign. Only 4. Not all 31.  So now we need an oncologist's help to hunt out any other place this might have gone. They couldn't find it in the bones or muscles in my chest cavity, which is really good. 

Can't get in to see the doc clear until the 19th. Torture. My friend Nyline suggested that I call the oncologist's office and at least get the orders for the kind of scans I'll need. I can do the scans while I wait for this appointment, at least. And then we can have something to talk about, the oncologist and I. Might as well be as productive as possible. 

Speaking of being productive, does anyone want to come help me finish the trim work on the outside of my house? Just a teeny bit more work needs to be done. I can do it if I am on my percocets for the pain, but I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be climbing ladders while on percocets. I was dumb enough to ignore a nipple wound, but I'm not dumb enough to climb ladders while on major pain meds.  So I'll paint the low parts, and you paint the high parts, and I'll be in Scotland before ye...call me. Have your people call my people.

7 comments:

Mindy H. said...

Have I mentioned how impressed I am that you are using your experience to help others? Because Oh. My. Goodness. Who knows how many people are going to read your posts in the months and years to come and have your words change their lives for the better!You are my hero! I wish that I had read your last post before my mom and I came over. I would have totally hugged you!
And if nobody local can come help with your trim, let me know. I could drive over on Thursday. You still have my cell number, right?

Kar said...

Yes, I do. The Elders in my ward are supposed to be on it this week. But I'll call you if it falls through.

deannah said...

Not only are you sharing so openly and honestly and helping others, but you end your post in song. You are the epitome of amazing and I'm so glad our paths crossed so many years ago in La Mesa. Wish I lived close and could help in any possible way. Thank you for sharing your stories so that we don't have to just wonder and worry about you. We can know and pray!!!

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