Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Libby, my younger sister, is also battling the demon. But her demon is triple-negative and when they did a first round of chemo to shrink the tumor before surgery, it only partially worked. The tumor did shrink - but also started to grow back before she had her surgery six weeks later.
Fortunately, she has a good surgeon; the experienced kind who relies on what her fingertips tell her as much as the data from the scans. She found and removed the original tumor - then found two other spots where it was growing, and took those out, too. She removed the sentinel lymph nodes, and then, when her sensitive fingers sensed 'something off' about some of the others nearby, removed those, too.
The good news part is that they were able to remove all the cancer they found. The hard news part is that Libby will start a second round of chemo in a couple of weeks - a stronger one. Stronger is good for killing cancer cells. Stronger is harsh on the rest of the body as the doctors do the best they can to seek the delicate balance between killing all the cancer cells and leaving the rest of the body in a place where it will be able to recover when the treatment ends.
Chemo II will be followed by radiation - the cancer is gone, but statistics say the long term survival rate is better when radiation is done anyways.
When she heals from the radiation, she'll finally be able to get her implants filled and replaced with the permanent ones. I remember those temporary implants. They feel a lot like someone stuck a shower curtain under your skin. It's a creepy kind of feeling - and I know she's not looking forward to the 5-6 month delay in getting them out of there.
Libby is coping with all of this by searching for the good things anyways. (It's the same coping method I used to get me through my cancer, and then Kate's.)
The delay between the chemo and the surgery which allowed the cancer to grow back is not all bad - if they'd done the surgery right away and the visible tumor cells were still gone, they could very well have missed the signs telling them how aggressive the beast is.
She was worried from the get-go about the other shoe dropping. Now it has, and she as she put it, now she has a matching pair of shoes.
Knowledge is power.
You can do this, Libby Elizabeth Leonard the last (in line, licking lollipops, late at night)!
One step at a time, you can do this.