I am participating in The Komen Portland Race for the Cure(R)! Please support me with a donation.

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Dear Friends & Family,

This September 18, 2011, I will join more than 40,000 runners, walkers and volunteers for the 20th Annual Komen Portland Race for the Cure. As one person in a crowd of thousands, I am accepting a challenge to make a difference.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. My mom and my sister are both breast cancer SURVIVORS!

When I stop to think of the friends, aunts, neighbors, mothers and grandmothers in my life, I can easily think of eight women. And I do not want to see another one suffer from this terrible disease.


I want to make a difference for our children, so they may have the promise of a full life.
It’s clear that Komen has made a difference in the last 20 years. 20 years ago, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer diagnosed at its earliest stage was 74%. Now we celebrate that it is 98%. But, until no one fears a diagnosis of breast cancer, we still have a lot of work to do.

Will you help me? If you have only $5 to give, I will be as grateful as if you have $500. The size of your gift is not important, because every dollar counts in the fight against breast cancer.

Gratefully yours,


Exercise only affects 5% of weight loss… WTF?

First, the good news.

I got my pathology results today and there was no atypia or malignancy identified in the tissue that was removed. So that’s a huge huge HUGE relief. My incision is healing fine and everything there looks good. The THINGS are truly NO MORE! I go back in six weeks for another check. After that I’ve been instructed to be checked every six months, with every other checkup being a mammogram. They want to keep a close eye on me.

The other news isn’t bad. But it’s weird and I need your opinions, thoughts, etc. But first I have to back up a bit.

Wednesday last week I woke up with a sore throat and a headache. It wasn’t horrible, just annoying. Then the morning of my surgery I woke up in a coughing fit. It subsided by the time I got to the hospital but I let them know anyway. They weren’t concerned after listening to my lungs and finding them clear. I was pretty much fine till Sunday when I started coughing again. I proceeded to cough during the night, and had several coughing fits Monday. My throat has been hurting off an on all week as well.

No one else is sick in my family. No sore throats. No sniffles. I don’t even have a sniffle. Just this weird and annoying cough and the occasional sore throat.

I mentioned the cough to Dr. S (the one who did my surgery) at my post-op appointment today. He said if it persists I should see my regular doctor. I then asked him about Dr. D. (the one who was supposed to do my surgery but got sick and canceled). It turns out Dr. D got really ill with a cough. It was so bad she had to be hospitalized (she’s pregnant) and put on medication. I just saw Dr. D the week before and now *I* have a cough. Interesting.

I asked Dr. S if he knew if Dr. D’s cough was viral or not. He wasn’t sure. Then he caught on to why I was asking, so he joked and said, “Who got who sick? “Maybe YOU got HER sick?!” Who knows? Who cares? I was just asking out of curiosity since that is a coincidence and it’d be nice to know if she had a virus that was contagious. (No I haven’t been to Mexico.)

But that’s not the weird part.

While I’m still talking to him about this cough he cuts me off and asked if my regular doctor is working with me on my weight. This was completely random and out of the blue. I stammered a bit and eventually said no, but I starting a walking routine recently and…

He cut me off again and said “walking won’t help”.

Jack and I both gaped at him.

I replied, “it’s not just walking, it’s a full cardio workout.”

Dr S. replied with a wave of his hand, “exercise doesn’t do anything. It only affects maybe 5% of weight loss”.

Again Jack and I gaped. Only 5%? WTF is he talking about? This is a DOCTOR and he’s telling me that exercise isn’t going to help me lose weight? So I asked him if he meant I needed a diet change.

He was pretty vague in his answer. He said that people rarely lose weight on their own and usually need some sort of program. He said I should talk to my regular doctor about it.

It’s bugged me all day. And I can certainly understand now why my sister didn’t like this doctor.

How can a doctor who claims to have 26 years of experience say exercise won’t help me lose weight? I’ve tried to wrap my brain around it and I can’t. It could be that he means that exercise will help me lose weight, but unless I exercise forever it won’t stay off? I know it’s hard to keep the weight off and maintain. I know this quite well as I’m a yo-yo when it comes to my weight…

Or maybe he was trying to tell me that he thinks I overeat and no amount of exercise would help me? Maybe he’s one of those kind of people who just assumes all overweight people sit on their ass all day and eat as much as they can stuff in their mouths? Or maybe since he’s a surgeon, he was hinting at some sort gastric bypass surgery or something?

He then went on to tell me that with the history in my family, losing weight is something I should really think about as breasts don’t like fat. (I thought breasts were primarily fatty tissue, but HE’s the doctor…). He pretty much was all about talking about my weight after that.

Jack and I were so shocked that we didn’t really get to ask any questions about the surgery, including the most important one: why did I have these clogged ducts and masses in there. I know the answer would have likely been, “who knows with these things” but I still would have liked the chance to ask. Instead I felt like I was being accused of something and felt a little offended. I really wanted to tell him that my sister was not overweight and she got breast cancer, asshole.

So what do you guys think? Especially about this exercise thing? Were we justified in being shocked at what he was saying? Do I have a right to feel slightly offended? Or are we completely missing something (besides that we both know I’m overweight)?

The thing that is no more… hopefully

The surgery to remove THING #1 was Thursday (April 23rd) and how it went is best summed up by Jay:

@SpacyTracie wow, quite the interesting turn of events there for you … who knew surgery could be such a rollercoaster ride?

I arrived at the hospital right on time, filled out the paperwork, and was called back fairly promptly. I had to go in alone initially while the nurse, who coincidentally shared my first and last name, checked my vital signs, asked questions, etc. I told her about my experience with the tape they used on the biopsy last week on THING #2 (I still had a bit of a rash from it), so she put an allergy band on my wrist indicating I was allergic. (Paper tape is OK.) The IV was started (ouch!) then Jack was allowed to come in and sit with me.

A few minutes later my hand where the IV was inserted started to burn and feel itchy. I asked my namesake nurse if that was normal. She kinda shrugged then I started itching my hand around the IV. She told me not to do that as I wouldn’t want the IV to come out and I said I couldn’t help it. It itched BAD. We both realized at the same time it was the tape she used to secure the IV. We were so busy chatting about having the same names when she inserted the IV that we forgot about the tape allergy thing. She quickly took off the tape and secured the IV with one of those ace bandage type things that sticks to itself. Whew.

I was scheduled for “Wire and Dye” at 8:45 AM. The wire is basically a marker to where the lump or growth is to be removed. The wire has a hook on the end of it to keep it in place. They use ultrasound to get the wire placed exactly where it needs to be, then inject a dye in the area around the wire where they want the tissue to be removed. The wire is removed during the surgery.

They came and got me for this procedure around 8:30 AM. Jack and my mother followed as I was wheeled over in a wheelchair to the Breast Care Center. They were instructed to stay in the waiting room while I was taken inside. When we got to the nurses station, they said we were early and they weren’t ready for me. The nurse who wheeled me over explained she was filling in for someone and that’s why she brought me early. They had no rooms available so they parked me in a hallway out of the way and left me there alone.

There I sat in my wheelchair, wearing nothing but a hospital gown, a blanket, an IV, and my iPhone. I twittered about it saying I felt conspicuous sitting there all alone. People would come and go from the doors in that hallway and when they’d see me they seemed surprised I was there. It was awkward.

A doctor-type woman who appeared to have just arrived to the facility carrying her coat and some files walked by, then stopped, and asked if I was comfortable. I replied that I was physically fine but felt a little out of place. She gave me a knowing nod and a smile and asked if I had family or friends in the waiting room. I explained I did and she said she’d go get them and some chairs and they could sit with me. A minute later she returned with my mom and Jack and a couple nurses carrying chairs. What a sweet lady! I still have no idea who she was but that was awesome. Unfortunately it was a little late because only a few minutes later a nurse showed up to get me. At least Jack and my mom were allowed to stay with me during the procedure.

Soon I was on the table and the procedure to insert the wire and dye was about to begin. Just as the radiologist was prepping the site, I heard a noise and saw a flash coming from where my mom and Jack were sitting. The nurse and I both glared at Jack and I started to say, “Oh no you don’t!”. I thought he had just snapped a photo. So did the nurse. But the flashes and noises kept repeating and that’s when we all realized it was the fire alarm going off. The nurse sighed and said the stupid alarms go off all the time and she hoped it’d be turned off soon because the strobe effect (flashing) was annoying. The radiologist agreed but continued his prep work.

As he was about to numb the area there was knock at the door as it opened and a woman’s voice telling us the alarm wasn’t a drill and the building was being evacuated. My nurse and radiologist said they had just got started. The curly-headed woman at the door said that was fine but my mom and Jack had to leave. I was like, “wait, what? There’s a fire and we’re going to stay? REALLY??” I looked at the nurse and radiologist’s faces and they only seemed annoyed, not worried so I just kept my mouth shut.

The procedure was started and I could tell they were moving quicker than normal. Fortunately I wasn’t feeling a thing so I just hoped they wouldn’t miss in their haste. I was also anxious about whatever was going on outside that room that was making the fire alarm go off and people get evacuated. The alarm continued to flash and beep, but only a few minutes later Jack and my mom came back and said it was nothing. Yay!

I relaxed. The procedure was almost over anyway. Now we were all just hoping they’d shut the alarm off. A few minutes later there was another knock on the door and the curly-headed woman’s voice returned saying “Sorry, the fire department is here and they want the building evacuated”. She escorted my mom and Jack out of the room AGAIN then came back a few minutes later saying the facility was now empty and it was just us and we needed to go.

The nurse and radiologist quickly finished and helped me back to the wheelchair. My head was spinning.

The curly-headed woman wheeled me out and as we were going down the hall I felt some intense burning then the serious need to take sandpaper to my boob where they just did the procedure. I mentioned this to her and she said the dye can cause discomfort. I said no, this is on the outside. It itches bad and it feels like I’m being burned. Then I realized they must have put tape on me. I looked down and pulled away the gauze and sure enough, there was surgical tape holding down some more gauze and a wire about 6 inches long hanging out of me. (FREAKY!) The nurse was walking with us and got an alarmed look on her face and said in their haste they forgot about my tape allergy. She apologized and took off in search of paper tape.

At this point people started trickling back into the building.. and there I am in the hall, boob exposed with a wire hanging out of it… me and the curly-headed woman ripping tape off it. To think I had the nerve to feel conspicuous in the hall earlier. Ha!

I joked about how it must have been me setting off the fire alarm because that was TWICE in a short period of time someone put tape on me that felt just like I was being set on fire. There was no fire though. Just steam from a boiler room. All that excitement for just a little steam.

I relaxed again. The burning and itching had subsided and no one was catching on fire. Jack and my mom were instructed again to wait in the waiting room while I went and had mammogram pictures taken to ensure the wire was placed properly. Everything was back to normal and even the alarm had stopped. The relief I felt was short-lived.

A nurse from pre-op arrived at the nurses station looking for me. The nurses pointed me out and she approached me gently, hands clasped behind her back, with a concerned look on her face. She bent over toward me and said my surgeon became ill and/or there was some sort of emergency with her. I asked if she was OK. My surgeon is pregnant so I was immediately concerned for her. The pre-op nurse said they had no information on what was going on with her but it did mean that all her surgery patients were canceled for the day. I stared at her.

The wire and dye nurse told the pre-op nurse that I just had the wire put in and was about to get a quick mammogram. Pre-op nurse said to put everything on hold while she made some calls. I asked what this all meant for me. Curly-head said she wasn’t sure. The wires aren’t meant to come out the way they went in because of the hook. She explained they have taken them out before but it was not something they like to do. She also said they could put a clip in it and secure it real good and I could come back tomorrow but I would be very restricted on movement of that arm.

Curly-head stayed with me while we waited for the pre-op nurse to come back. I have no idea who curly-head was. She seemed to be some sort of head of the department. She was very friendly and comforting and I was grateful she stayed with me so I didn’t have to go back to sitting in the hallway alone. Pre-op nurse came back and said they found a backup surgeon. I asked if I would get to meet him at least before the surgery. They said yes and that I would really like him. He was supposedly a kind and gentle older man close to retirement, and has been a surgeon for many many years. They all seemed to adore him so I was OK with it… Mostly. The biggest hitch was he wasn’t going to be available until three hours after my original surgery was scheduled.

The mammogram was quick and painless and soon as I was back in pre-op. Pre-op is just a big room with a bunch of beds lined up with curtains separating the beds. It’s noisy and the space around each bed is very small. Technically only one relative / friend is allowed at a time to sit with the patients. My mom and Jack followed me back to pre-op and no one said they had to leave. At that point it seemed the staff were bending over backwards to make sure I was comfortable and happy after the crazy morning I had.

My mom had to leave to take care of some obligations. I had a long Care Package from Jackwait ahead of me and there was no reason for all of us to sit there in that tiny space bored out of our minds. I sat on the bed flipping through a magazine and the care package Jack had put together for me in a bright pink mini backpack. (The care package  contained the magazine, new pink Breast Cancer Research Foundation coffee cup and water bottle, a new brush with new hair ties, a words earch puzzle book, chocolates for later, a beanie Panda Bear named Ming, some mints, and some lip balm. Isn’t Jack a sweetie?) Unfortunately the package only side-tracked me for about 20 minutes. I ended up fretting over the whole ordeal, and managed to work myself up into tears. Jack got a nurse and we asked if we could leave. There was no way I wanted us to sit there for several hours. The nurses said they normally never let anyone leave pre-op once admitted but in my case, after all I’d been through, they’d allow it as long as they could reach us on our cell phones, I stayed in my wheelchair, and didn’t move the arm on the side the wire was. We agreed. FREEDOM.

From there Jack wheeled me around the hospital for a while. We went outside for a bit. It was too cold so we went and got Jack some lunch. I drooled. No food or water for me since the night before. (Can you say, “Caffiene Headache”??) Just the IV fluids… Eventually we went back up to pre-op to see if there was any new news. There wasn’t so we went down into the lobby at the Firstenburg Tower and set up ‘camp’ near the gas fireplace and near a good view of the fountain to watch a movie on Jack’s laptop. Just as he was loading up the list of our movie choices, I got a call from pre-op. The backup surgeon was called into a trauma… GRRRRR! But then she said another surgeon was going to do my surgery on his lunch break, RIGHT NOW.

We hurried back to pre-op to find two nurses and the anesthesiologist waiting for me at my bed. The surgeon had gone to eat a half a bowl of soup real quick. I wasn’t thrilled about the surgeon I was getting because it was the same one my sister had for her masectomies and she didn’t like him. I wasn’t sure why though. He seemed OK when I met him, he’s just a no-nonsense type of person. Not that we had a whole lot of time to get to know each other. Everyone seemed in a hurry and he was mostly concerned with confirming the details of the surgery, why I was there, etc. The haste in which all this happened did not do much to easy my anxiety about the whole day, but at least things were going so fast at that point I didn’t really have time to fret much.

They rolled me into the operating room and asked me a few questions. I answered and was waiting for an opportunity to let the anesthesiologist know that I prefer to be told I’m being put under rather than just have them knock me out without warning. (I wake up less disoriented that way.) Unfortunately the next thing I remember is being woke up, feeling pain in my breast, fading back out, waking up, feeling pain, fading out, then waking up again. If there is a next time, I will be sure to ignore any questions until I get a chance to tell them to let me know before they just knock me out.

I recovered pretty quick and headed home about an hour or so after the surgery. They did NOT use tape thankfully. Just some gauze over the incision and this tube top looking thing around my whole chest that velcros closed in the front.

I have a 1.5 inch incision above the nipple. They removed a cluster of clogged ducts along with whatever the lump was. The incision is bigger than I expected and the doc says I may lose some feeling in the area. I have already discovered that there’s definitely a loss of sensation in two places and I really hope it’s temporary. There’s been some pain but the painkillers take care of that for the most part. Unfortunately they also completely wipe me out and make me stupid.

I’m just taking it easy for now until Wednesday when I have my follow up appointment.

Lumps and clips and markers OH MY

First a trial update: It’s boring. Short story version is it didn’t happen (Bumped AGAIN!) and won’t now till May 21st. If it even happens then because the court system is, you know, so organized and “with it”.

My biopsy went well last week, other than taking way longer than we thought it would. I have not received any results on that yet. The only hitch was the tape they used to cover the biopsy site made made me itch like crazy and caused bright red welts for several days. Let me tell you, there’s nothing sexier than walking around with a red, itchy, welted boob.

Breast Cancer Awareness Ribbon I have boobie bling now. Except it’s internal and unless you happen to have a mammogram machine lying around you won’t be able to see my ‘bling’. Actually, it’s just a biopsy marker clip and mine just happens to be in the shape of an awareness ribbon. These marker clips are made of titanium or surgical stainless steel and are about 2 millimeters in size and will stay there forever marking the spot. They showed it to me after it was placed and they took a few more mammogram images to be sure it was placed correctly. It was kinda cool.

The lumpectomy is tomorrow. I have to be there at 7:15 AM. They will place a wire with some sort of camera on it at 8:15 and inject some dye so they can see what all they’re doing. My first thought when they explained this to me today was, “Like a dyed egg? I’ll have a dyed boob? But Easter is over”. I’m glad I don’t blurt these things out and can usually keep them in my head.

They told me to bring a book because I’ll be sitting around doing nothing for a while. I asked if I could bring my laptop. They said sure. I asked if I could get on the internet. She said they don’t have internet access. Ha. I happen to know someone on the inside. I bet HE gets me internet.

The surgery is scheduled for 11:30 and I should be home by 2:00 – 3:00.

I’m jumping for joy at all this. Can you tell?

Rough week

Monday was a rough day.

In the wee hours Monday morning/Sunday night, Cassie (aka Rat Dog) started getting sick. She alerted us by loudly barking/whining. Jack got up, let her out of her kennel and found she had vomited several times. I’m going to spare you all the rest of gory details as things progressively got worse.

She hasn’t been doing well for a few weeks now and hasn’t been herself. I had twittered about it a few weeks ago that she was sick, old, and euthanasia was discussed even then. Monday morning it became apparent that it was just too much misery all around so we made the decision to put her to sleep Monday afternoon. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. She was a great dog, always patient with the kids, with a quirky personality that drove us crazy sometimes, but mostly she brought happiness to our home. In turn, I think we gave her the best last year of her life that she could have had. As my mom has said to us numerous times after she came to live with us over a year ago, “she probably thinks she died and went to heaven”.

I didn’t even get a chance to mourn her Monday night. Instead I got phone calls about the Trial that was supposed to happen Tuesday. The phone calls centered around one person in particular who thrives on creating as much drama, deceit, and strife as humanly possible so instead of being with my kids helping them understand the loss of their pet, I was on the damn phone dealing with said drama and making sure the record was set straight (since the drama and lies were based on the upcoming trial). It was a rough night.

Tuesday was a rough day. The trial didn’t happen but lots of phone calls and nail-biting did anyway. I just so want this over with.

Today was ok… but it’s the first day I’ve really had a chance to miss Cassie. I see her food bowl in the kitchen where it always is. None of has have made any attempt to remove her presence from the house yet. I’m so going to miss that little rat dog. 😦

Tomorrow could be a rough day. If we’re going to continue with the current theme. The optimistic side of me keeps saying it can’t be that bad, though.

On the books for tomorrow is an ultrasound-guided core or needle biopsy. The surgeon I saw last Friday said I don’t have one lump. I have two. Two THINGS that shouldn’t be there.

The one I discovered they think is a Intraductal Papilloma. Fortunately it’s quite rare for these to be cancerous. It will be removed anyway.

The second THING is a small benign cyst 2 cm away from the papilloma. We asked how they know for sure it’s benign and she said it just is. Unfortunately that answer isn’t good enough for us. My mom’s THING was “just a cyst” too. Look where that got her? Sure it took 15 years for that little benign cyst to become a problem, but what a problem it did become.

So Thursday they’ll be looking at that and deciding what to do. I don’t know why they can’t just take whatever doesn’t belong out..

Friday is the new Trial date. Except it may not happen because the case ahead of us is booked to be a two day trial with tomorrow being the first day. So why did they book us anyway if they expect the case to go two days? Because they are hoping that case only goes one day. Lovely. So I may or may not need the day off work. I may or may not need a babysitter. We’ll find out Thursday night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The THING that Should Not Be

It’s April and that means we’re 1/3 of the way through the year. Someone please tell me how that happened? I am pretty sure it was about a week ago we were celebrating Christmas. A month tops and definitely not over three months ago. This entire year I’ve written around 89 blog posts in my head. I swear I was going to write them out …soon… Instead I didn’t even get to do an April Fool’s joke. I’ve had a few of you fooled before so it bums me out that it’s came and gone without my even noticing it.

So.. what’s been going on in Jack n’ Tracie’s world? Hm. I think the question is, what hasn’t been going on?

Some tidbits:

  • Kevin’s choir ensemble got to go on tour all the way to San Francisco where they won every competition they entered, and came home with eight trophies.
  • Cody just turned 8! He recently joined the chess club at school and seems to love it.
  • Little miss H. continues to thrive and is enjoying kindergarten. She’s continuously a ball of energy!
  • Kay is home now and working at Cold Stone Creamery. She’s discovered you can get sick of ice cream.
  • Jack’s work continues to keep them in limbo. I haven’t posted much here on what’s been going on there, so I’ll just say that it’s very likely his employer will change again while keeping the same job at the same location. Fun stuff. (not)
  • Casey is doing awesome in school and loving his teacher. Such a change from a few short years ago when he was struggling. The last two years he’s had some great teachers who seem to get him and it’s made a world of difference.

As for the title of this post: Two weeks ago I discovered a ‘thing’ that shouldn’t be there (in my left breast). Since my mother and sister are both breast cancer survivors, naturally this is a concern for me. See also My Sister, the Survivor, and My Sister for a bit of history on that.

I had a doc appt Tuesday to confirm there was something, a THING, and my doctor ordered a mammogram and an ultrasound. He told me Tuesday that regardless of the results of the tests, we’d probably have whatever it is (THING) taken out.

The mammogram didn’t show much but the ultrasound showed that I have I dilated duct with a possible tumor inside of it. The radiologist used the words, “growth, cyst, or tumor”. So.. who knows. I’m being referred to a surgeon. He mentioned stuff about dyes and x-rays and I just kinda nodded all the while trying to figure out if he was really concerned? Or just downplaying things? Or… WHAT?!?

Jack started rambling to the radiologist about a clogged gland he had one time and how annoying it was so after a while he just decided to get it removed. The three of us, me, the radiologist, and the ultrasound tech just blinked at him.

I was like, “wtf are you rambling on about that for?” But I was nice and saved that question for after everyone else left the room. I could tell what the radiologist was thinking though: “dude, we’re talking about a possible tumor in your wife’s breast and you’re rambling on about clogged oil glands??”

When they left the room, the ultrasound tech said to me, “it’s a really good thing you came to see us!” I was like, “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?” but I think all I got out was an awkward little laugh.

I still needed to get to the bottom of the whole clogged oil gland thing though, so the second they were out of the room I turned to Jack and asked him, “What was THAT about?? Why? Jack? Why?”

Jack explained his point was he’d rather just get whatever it is, this THING that should not be, taken out. His little clogged gland was a source of frustration and discomfort so why keep something like that around? In other words, he was saying this THING doesn’t scare us, but it’s not going to be allowed to take up residence. It doesn’t belong. IT’S NOT WELCOME HERE! We WILL nip this thing in the bud! (Yes, the very bad pun was intended.) 😉

I’m sure it’s going to be nothing. But I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been freaked out since Tuesday. It was one thing to be all: “hmm… there’s this THING that kinda hurts and is kinda annoying, and kinda shouldn’t be there, but it’s probably nothing” to “yep, there’s something there and it’s a concern” from all the professionals. Especially with the family history.