Hi everyone--this post is not authored by Steph, but by me (Steve) instead.
I will try to tell HER story of today but will probably have a little more of my perspective because try as I might, I just cannot think like a woman and she is currently feasting upon pain meds!! :)
So, Steph underwent surgery today...
Lots of nerves, anticipation, worry, and even a little excitement to get this tumor out and move forward in the fight.
We feel blessed to have two of the finest doctors in Utah operating on Stephanie. Dr. Regina Rosenthal is an incredible breast cancer surgeon and Dr. June Chen is likewise a top-notch plastic surgeon. We feel very comfortable with both of them and it very reassuring to know they frequently work together and make an excellent team!
The single side skin-sparing mastectomy lasted nearly two hours. During this first phase they did a "sentinal node biopsy" which is where dye and some radioactive juice (injected last night) travels to the nearest lymph node(s). They then know where fluid from the breast first travels and can check that node(s) for any cancer. We were relieved to find out that the stuff lit up three nodes and all were clear of cancer on the initial screenings. A closer look by the pathologist will give us an official verdict, but they expect it to be clear based upon the initial findings. This is wonderful news... I can't tell you how happy we both are to know that nasty tumor is out of her body and it appears no cancer has spread to other parts of her body!!
Dr. Chen followed Dr. Rosenthal and inserted a "tissue expander". This took about one hour and was a preparatory step toward further reconstruction down the road after chemotherapy is finished and Steph is declared cancer-free. At this point, chemo looks unavoidable but it appears likely that she will NOT have to endure radiation, too. Yes! A ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy stormfront!!
So many cool things happened today besides the successful surgery. My phone has never fielded so many texts in one day (I'm sure ya'll fried several towers and at least one satellite!) and I was surprised by a visit from the Amazing Shari K who by the way sells Mary Kay! She had an appointment here at IMC today (made 18 mths ago--imagine that?!) and stopped by and hung out with me for awhile in the waiting room. What a treat! I was getting tired of listening to the hard of hearing elderly folks share their deafening cell phone ringtones and conversations with the entire hospital and city of Murray!! Yikes!! Thanks Shari!
Steph has had 3 previous surgeries and has been very sick from the anesthesia afterward so this time around the doctors tried some different drugs and slapped a good ole Dramamine patch behind the ear. Voila! So far so good, no nausea and just some very mild "loopiness" from a dose of Oxycontin. ;)
Steph is currently doing very well and resting peacefully. It would be an understatement to say that Stephanie (and me, too) is very appreciative of all the thoughts, prayers, special fasts, care packages, pink wardrobes/accessories (thanks RHS staff and RHS softball team!), flowers, gifts, and well-wishers. I also received a second wonderful surprise when Cindy Marshall (one of Stephanie's Epic Relay running buddies from Pocatello, ID via Twin Falls) walked through the door this afternoon. Steph knew she'd be in SLC but in the hustle and bustle of pre-surgery festivities, she had forgotten to tell me. How cool it was to see Cindy here!! She was in SLC picking up her daughter from the airport and stopped by to visit and give Steph a "Sisters" quilt created from her own hands. There are only two in the world and they each have one. It is beautiful just like Cindy and Steph (see the pic). This is just one of the many acts of kindness showered upon Stephanie in recent days.
The love and concern shown by everyone is humbling to us. We are touched. It makes this scary journey less scary. It motivates us to fight harder. It gives our entire family strength and courage! In return, we pray our rather weak "thank yous" will find their way to your hearts. We further hope you can draw strength from watching Steph The Cancer Fighter in action. We all need each other.
She comes home tomorrow and the battle continues...