The Story Begins

Sylvia’s kids got pregnant and March of 2016 found us traveling to Ohio to see a new baby girl.  I had found a lump in my left breast before we left but I had also found it ten years earlier and it had been diagnosed as benign so I wasn’t too concerned.  On Easter Sunday as we were driving home from spending time with Aaron, Amanda and Kaitllyn, Melissa texted us that Mom had fallen and been taken to Providence with a broken left upper thigh bone near her hip.

We finished the drive home and went to see her. She spent three days waiting for her drug thinning medication to clear her body before the surgical repair could be done. She tried a sleep aid but it caused her to see things that weren’t there so we shared nights sleeping in the recliner in her room to help her stay calm.  The effects of the anesthesia were even more dramatic as she was sure everyone was out to get her.  She kept telling me to call the FBI to turn them in so we could all be safe.  But time took care of that unpleasantness and she eventually was able to move across the street to a new rehab facility; The Healthcare Resort (HRC).  She wasn’t happy there but she was safe and well taken care of so we could all arrange real schedules knowing that she would be OK.

When Sylvia heard about the lump, she made contact with her friend from SMMC, Charlene Wallace, who runs the Women’s Center and scheduled us both for mammograms on May 6th.  I was called back on the following Monday for a biopsy.  Sylvia was able to be in the room with me during the procedure which actually was not painful at all.  It did seem like life was simply going to exist around hosptials and doctors and rehab specialists.

Mom got to go home and on Friday, May 13th, I was with her meeting her home nursing team when Charlene called me to say CANCER.  She was actually very kind and very thorough with her explanation while delivering the news but by the time I got home I had forgotten the key phrases so Sylvia called her back and she had to tell the whole story over again.  Lobular cancer, HER2 negative.  Medical words that meant not much then and everything now.

By Monday, May 16th I was meeting with Dr. Bettina Lowe, surgeon and team leader for what was to become a whirlwind of doctor appointments and suggested treatment plans. I started with meeting with the genealogy folks to see about family tendencies to this disease but none were found.  Then I had an echocardiogram and an MRI to set the baselines for heart function and size and location of the tumor(s) – there may have been three of them in a line.

May 23rd had me meeting with Dr. Hughes of the radiation department.  He explained that he would be last on the treatment schedule but wanted to meet with me and reassure me that Dr. Lowe was the best team leader ever. It was also one of the stormiest days ever.  They kept us informed about tornado warnings while we were at the doctor office and we stopped by a building at 78th and Parallel just to keep from having to drive in the horrible rain the rest of the way home.  When we did venture on, we had no power at home so no way to get into the house.  We went for Chinese to try to let the power come back on but still could not get in when we got home.  So we called for a lock smith to get us in through the front door.  Just as he drove up the power came back so we gave him a nice tip and got inside to a frantic puppy totally freaked by the storm.

Within a week we were meeting with Dr. Reddyy to talk about chemo; how much and how often.  We agreed to a fairy aggressive allotment of about four strong drugs delivered every three weeks through a port to be planted in my right chest area by Dr. Lowe.  Got through the day surgery for the port fairly smoothly and chemo began on June 8th.