Jeff, my aunt Diane, and I went to my initial pre-op consultation with Dr. Kent at Group Health in Bellevue on November 3rd.  Going in to the appointment I knew he was chief of surgery and I was in good hands.  It's so hard with the medical community because you want doctors who are smart and good at what they do, but you also want them to be caring and compassionate.  I was so lucky to get the best of both worlds.
After going over the formalities of diagnosis with Dr. Kent, he made it a point to look directly at me and say "you're going to be okay".  That did it.  I was a fan for life.  It was the first time one of my doctors said that.  It was crucial at that point to hear something positive so I could grab on and use it as fuel to move forward.  Being diagnosed with cancer-or any life threatening disease for that matter-is traumatic.  You feel like you're in this scary world all alone, even though you may have a tremendous amount of support.  I equate it to having a baby.  People can tell you before you get pregnant and give birth what it will be like, but until you actually go through it, you really don't know.  Anyway, having Dr. Kent and his staff treat me like a human being with a future was exactly what I needed at that time. 

After my MRI, I opted for the lumpectomy.  The plan was to remove one lymph node-called the sentinel node-and if that node was negative for cancer, the theory is it hasn't spread to any other lymph nodes and they don't need to remove gobs of them like they used to. 

Waiting for surgery to begin
Lymph nodes basically serve as a filter for your immune system.  They trap bad organisms (like cancer cells) and keep them from getting into your blood stream and into the rest of your body.  In the old days, they used to remove a large amount of lymph nodes (there are roughly 40 under each arm but hundreds throughout your body), which caused a lot of long term issues for women such as Lymphedema.  They discovered that they could get the same information by removing the sentinel node(s) and it was much less traumatic on the patient.  In my case, when Dr. Kent went to remove the sentinel node, he saw that two of my nodes were inflamed.  This could have been because of my recent biopsy or it could have been evidence of cancer.  He opted to take a total of four nodes and test them.  At the time of surgery he did a dissection and they were all negative.  He removed the tumor and I went home the same day.

I have never had surgery before (other than having teeth pulled) so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Overall it wasn't a bad experience.  I did feel crappier than I thought I would for several days afterward, but was back to feeling normal about 7 days post surgery.  The incision to remove the tumor wasn't painful, but the area where they removed the lymph nodes was very uncomfortable.  It took about two weeks for me to be able to raise my arms without discomfort and I know it will take a while before it's completely healed. 

Next op and final diagnosis.

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