Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back to work already??!!!

3:40pm - Got a call to pick her up by's 5:06pm right now and she's out cold on the couch! She has a 9:40am appt. with Dr. Price in the morning and is anticipating going to work after that.

Yep, Connie went back to work this morning, with limited capabilities, mind you. She can't lift more than 5 lbs, no lifting, twisting, etc. Not sure exactly how they will put her to work, but I'm sure she'll give 200% of whatever she's got left in her right now! We'll see if she can make it through a full day. I'm sure she'll be dog-tired when I go to pick her back up tonight.

It must be noted that she had an extremely hard time getting up this morning. She's been sleeping on the couch to prop herself up a bit because the bed is too hard and flat for her...check out this video clip Cody took of her when he tried to wake her up.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Missed Appt / Pathology Results Are In....

5:45pm - Just returned from Dr. Ferguson's office. He was kept in surgery and Travis Remington worked on Connie. She had a number of things done.
1) Removed steri-strips from lumpectomy and mastectomy incisions.
2) Pulled the biggest alien tube out of her side. He asked her to take a deep breath. While she was inhaling, he extruded the tube just that quick. It burned like fire for a short period of time, but Connie is relieved that it is gone!
3) Poked through the skin with a large needle to find port of the chest expander and added 60cc's of saline.

11:00am - We just rec'd a call from Dr. Price's nurse with the pathology report. The nodes, all 15 of the little buggers, came back negative. How GRATEFUL we are!!! The nurse told Connie a quick story - the last time she called us to say that 1 of 3 were cancerous, she thought all was well. Then Dr. Price asked her to call us back and let us know we were going to have to go in for surgery to test the next 10-15 nodes. She said she made him call us while he was at a convention because there was no way she was calling us back after she thought she had just assured us that things were ok. She was happy to make this call today! We'll speak with Dr. Price on Thur and see where we are at for sure. He did say to me after her 2nd surgery that barring any bad news with more lymph nodes she was at a stage II, he thought.

Here's a little bit more about the stages of breast cancer...Connie, you should read this!

8:40am - Connie woke up in a panick...we missed an 8:30am appt. with the plastic surgeon. My fault...I thought it wasn't until 10:30am and let her sleep. I made a phone call and was able to reschedule for 3:45pm today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday - 3/29/10

2:30pm - Connie made an appt for Apr 20th with the following Oncologist:
Jonathan Whisenant, M.D.
Prior to joining UCS in 2005, Dr. Whisenant was a Clinical Fellow in Medical Oncology at University of California San Francisco Medical Center where he earned his medical degree in 1998. He was a resident in internal medicine at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and a staff physician at The Permanente Group in Walnut Creek, CA. Dr. Whisenant has published and presented his research to peers on colorectal and liver cancers and gastrointestinal tumors. He earned a bachelor‚s degree in history from Brigham Young University in 1993.

9:00am - Yesterday Connie made it to all 3 hours of church. Chazz taught her Sunday School class, so she was able to just sit with the kids and not have to be too involved. She was going to take her med's before going so they would kick in and last the entire block, however, she forgot them. She made it home and ended up pretty tired after all that. She has been up for a little while today, but has been sleeping most of the morning.

We need to call an Oncologist today and get hooked up with them, plus set some an appt. with Dr. Price for Thur. We are anxiously awaiting pathology reports by this Thur, at the latest.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday - 3/26/10

I woke up this morning around 8am to find that Connie has been up since at least 5:38am. At that time she measured her drainage and wrote it down...36cc in the past 7 hours...not bad. I get up, make myself some breakfast (Connie only wants Chocolate Milk...still not too hungry) and record her morning medications. She took only 1 pain pill again. She still has 3 more pills left from her last surgery, so we are waffling on if we're going to need to purchase another bottle with the new prescription today. Connie is much more mobile than after her last surgery. She says that her chest is just a dull throb now, and there is a little pain under her armpit where she had surgery yesterday, of course. She is already able to twist just a little bit more than yesterday. I head downstairs to work after tucking her back in on the couch to try and get a little more sleep while listening to CMT on the television.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Removal of the Lymph Nodes Day!

10:30pm - Connie has taken only one pain medication when we arrived home, and another just before bed tonight. She has been up most of the time, but not with a lot of appetite. Her new drainage bulb fills up quite quickly, compared to the one that was left from her first surgery, but that is to be expected. It is well within the limits. So far, so good. Good night!

5:00pm - Finally left the hospital.

2:15pm - Out of the recovery room and in room #21, where Michelle is taking care of her in post-op. Michelle, from pre-op, came in and brought Connie a new compression bra. She had to track it down for us and got it, and we rewarded her with one of our little pink cancer bears. We have one more to reward somebody who gives us excellent service. Connie is in and out right now, pain level at 1, eating ice-chips and doing well.

12:40pm - Dr. Price just came out and said everything went well, they didn't re-open anything that the plastic surgeon had already done, but did cut through some minor nerves that will make her arm sore and numb. He removed one of her two tubes, which was ok'd by the plastic surgeon, however, he added another one for today's surgery. He wants to see her next Thurs. She is in recovery for the next hour and will be able to take her home later today.

11:50am - We got here at 10:00am and got Connie checked in. The nurses are great and taking care of everything for her. We were moved up to the 2nd floor into a pod, or consult room. We met with Dr. Price and Dr. Rust, who is the anesthesiologist...he's got a pretty good sized ego, but he backed it up by putting in Connie's IV and it only hurt for the poke and the pain was then gone. Last time we were here, the pain lasted in her hand for quite some time. The Dr's, and Celeste, the nurse, went over a few last things, I got to give her a kiss, and off she went.

I'm now in the same waiting room that I was in last almost seems like yesterday. I forgot my phone, so my only way to communicate is by email. I hate it when I forget my phone!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Post-Op Day with the Surgeon

Had a 10:40am appt. with Dr. Price this morning. He basically was in and out, letting us know more directly what the pathology report said (1 out of 3 nodes were cancerous) and told us how he would harvest an area that would have approx 10-15 more nodes in it. He can't see the nodes, but when they disect the area down, that's about how many are usually there. Found that he will probably cut through a couple smaller nerves, which will leave under her arm sore/achey and numb. There are a couple of larger nerves that are "possible" that they could cut them, but he says they can usually see them and move them out of the way first....however...
Cynthia Horst has been supporting Connie with emails back and forth and shared what her experience was with the nodes, which is a little different than what they want to do with Connie. Connie tried for no surgery, but found out that estimating her stage of cancer is very depending on what they find, or don't find, and how aggressively they will treat her after this.
Happy to report that driving on the roads at normal speed was possible today, indicating that Connie is healing well and not hurting when we run over spider cracks in the blacktop. I'm just kidding, it wasn't quite that bad.
We haven't got the call yet, but it appears that we'll have to be at the hospital around 9:30 - 10:00am tomorrow for a same day surgery.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Off to the Plastic Surgeon today...

12:30pm - Connie was feeling good enough to go with me to the oral surgeon while Cody got his wisdome teeth out. Check out that story at, or find the link over to the left of this blog.

9:50am - Our surgeon just gave Connie a call and she has another surgery planned for this Friday to remove/harvest more lymph nodes for testing. Her care will be determined on how many of these will test out, whether positive or negative, for cancer. The plastic surgeon told us just this morning in his office that we'll find that we need to be flexible as different news is presented and paths of treatment change. So far, in just the last hour, he has been spot on!

9:25am - We're back already and Connie is still tubed up. She has another appointment for next week, where they will take them out for sure. The doctor would like to pull the tube, and at the same time, inflate the chest device so that it pushes the new void closed, decreasing the chance of fluids to gather there. Makes sense. However, if the fluid output drops below a certain level, and Connie wants to, she can come any time before next Tue and have one of the two removed. Apparently, one of the tubes hurts a bit more when extracting than the other. Ouch!

The sun has yet to crest the beautiful Wasatch mountains and the Denton house is abuzz with the excitement of a visit to the plastic surgeon's office today! Ok, a little melodramatic, and basically untrue. We do have an appt at 8:30 this morning and there is the possibility of the good doctor removing the alien drain tubes coming out the side of connie's left chest. We found that we had a picture of how they were installed inside of her body, and after a quick glance she quickly covered the picture back up and said she didn't want to know any more...I couldn't even bare the glance! Anyhow, the nurse says it's a painless procedure to have them removed and most women are happy to have this happen.
We hope this appt doesn't last too long because we need to get back so I can escort Cody to the dentist for his missionary wisdom teeth removal at 10:30am. He has 3 that need to be extracted. He's not too excited about this visit.
There is nothing but fun around each and every corner!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Pathology Report...

The report did not come back as we had hoped. Even though the lymph nodes tested negative while Connie was on the operating table, the final inspection revealed that one of the three nodes did test positive for cancer. We are now working on setting up an appointment with an Oncologist...and it looks like they are about 2 weeks out, which the nurse says is ok...they can't do anything with radiation or chemotherapy until her wounds have healed. They will probably do a full-body scan and that will tell us how aggressive, if at all, the cancer has been. I believe this will also help to determine what state she is at.
We do have an appointment set for tomorrow with the plastic surgeon (Dr. Ferguson)and on Thursday with the original surgeon, Dr. Robert Price.
Connie did get up this morning and go into work to fill out her time card before people started coming in. She is still a little fuzzy and was thankful that Cody had gone with her to help her...she was trying to copy and paste some stuff in Excel and just wasn't doing it right...he came to her rescue and they made a quick exit after that.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday 3/21/2010

Hi everybody,

Cody was speaking in church today, so she got her first shower this morning over her stitches and drainage tubes that are stitched into her sides below her armpits. It did take me a little getting used to...I'm a major whimp in this area. Seeing the tubes coming out of her was the hardest part. We got her to the shower and fortunately her mom has a nice chair for sitting in the shower that we used. I did my best at washing her hair while she held the drainage tubes, and then I held them while so she was able to wash. She felt much better after that, but was exhausted by the time we had to go to church. She made it through Sacrament and Cody did an excellent job on his report on how Kyle is doing on his mission. Several people came up to her unbelieving that she was even there, and mentioned how good she looked (hey, she did look good!). But as soon as she got home, out went the lights and she got some more sleep.

We're still waiting to hear what the pathology reports are...we'll call early Monday to make sure somebody gets back to us.

Friday, March 19, 2010

No News is .....No News!

7:00pm - Sad to say it, but we received absolutely NO NEWS from the pathology lab today, much to our surprise. Unless they work on the week-end, we may not hear anything now until Monday.

Connie made sure she took 2 pain pills (as prescribed) all night last night and slept much better. Woke up kinda pukey this morning, but we think it might be because she didn't have anything on her stomach and waiting 5-10 minutes to eat after she took the pills may have been our problem. I just remembered that we were rendered some "life saving" advice last night and I should have used it...if you get pukey from the meds, try a little coca-cola and it will settle you down much faster. My bad, but thanks Sis. B! (I wonder if Mtn. Dew would work...???)

She continues to improve, taking less pain medication in the day. We are historically horrible at keeping track when the last time she took pills was, so we actually made a chart and have been filling it out religeously. So now we have an excellent record of how bad we are at taking pills on time!

Connie's department at work sent out a wonderful fruit boquet to add to all the beautiful flowers that others have sent. Thank you all!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, March 18th

10:30pm - Happily, a pretty uneventful day. Meds were taken, we laughed, we napped and a delicious dinner was provided by Sis. Vance & Balfour & Balfour. Tommorow should be test results day...we'll have to see what happens =:0} Until tomorrow...goodnight!

8:00 am - We were both exhausted and fast asleep by 8pm last night. Connie was up at 2am and took her meds. She is prescribed 1 or 2 every 4 hours, but only needed one last night. She's still asleep this morning and I'll go wake her up in a minute, as it is time for her antibiotics. I need to kick Cody off the couch and make a place for her so she can sit up more, rather than laying down the whole time. We'll definately be watching the BYU game on CBS at 10:20am. That may give her another reason to fall asleep...hmmmm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It's a New Day!

6:30pm - Connie just shared a wonderful experience with me (not!). I got to help her strip her drainage tubes that are sewn into her to allow drainage that will occur for the next several days...there is a chance they will come out on Tuesday, depending on how little they are draining by then. The nurse said she drains a lot less than others. She has 2. Since we didn't get a lot of sleep at the hospital, we have both got a cat nap. Looking forward to (hopefully) a longer night of sleep than just 3 hours. Her pain level, when sitting, is usually about 1 or 2. When she gets up to walk around, it goes up to a 4/5 real quick. She is told she should be up and walking the house at least once/hour to help keep the blood flowing properly.

2:20pm - We have arrived home. It was a slooowww ride, but not slow enough that Connie wasn't wincing, even though she got meds 1/2 hr before we left. I felt bad! She's going to go to bed, Cody will watch her, and I will go to Sams club...decided not to go on the way home. We'll see just how comfy the bed is at home. Noticed that some clean-up has taken place and our fridge is stocked with fun things to eat (thank you Sis. Campbell, Jorgenson, Free and Bennett!!!!! Also, thanks to Cody & Whit, who got their chores done. Chazz...we need to chat!

11:35am - They have given Connie the ok to go ahead and leave after she has lunch, and at her convenience. Connie is not in a hurry to get out as she wouldn't have a nice electrical bed at home that she can rest easy in. She, of course, still winces when she has to move too far. She'll have a meeting with the Plastic Surgeon on Fri and with the surgeon on Mon. I expect we'll leave around 2:00pm, go pick up drugs at Sams and then head home. They are taking out her I.V. right now.

11:00am - We have been receiving many calls while here at the hospital on my cell, which doesn't get good reception here in the hospital. I have been trying to text you back to check out this blog, or email me at Connie is asleep right now. They figured last night that she was supposed to be medicated every hour after she got out of surgery, and they were doing every 3-4 hours. Now that this is figured out, she's taking stronger meds every 4 hours that do have a tendency to put her out.

9:00am - Dr. Price just showed up and re-emphasized that the nodes were negative and everything went really well. He wants her in his office on Mon for a follow-up. The tingling of the arm is normal and should go away. She's getting another dose of meds right now. Terri W. will be stopping by to say howdy before long. Doc says she'll be out today, unless the other doc sees a need for her to stay another day...they are finding that out.

5:30am - At 3:15am CNA Carol came in to check vitals. All seemed well, she left, and not till then did Connie need to go to the restroom. I unplugged her compression boots that she wears on each leg/foot that helps to keep the blood circulating and then unplugged her tree from the wall. Soon after getting back in bed Nurse Lindsey (she has the drugs) popped in to drop off the next round of meds. Nurse Lindsey just came in again to check the antibiotics bag and advised that Dr. Price's "Surgeon's Team" had already called and would be coming in before long to check on her. Her left arm keeps falling asleep, but awakens when she moves just is happening a lot more this morning than last night. We'll bring it up when they come in to see her. All in all, short night after getting to bed around midnight.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Surgery Day

5:30pm - Grammy and her friend, Diane, visited about 4:15. Cody showed up soon after that because Connie wanted some Cadbury Easter Eggs. Dinner showed up about 5:15 and she also had a small hit of drugs as her pain level crept up to 4/5. Still fighting nausea. She has been up once to use the restroom too, which is a good sign.

4:00pm - Connie had a breathing specialist come in to give her a breathing device so she would take 10 long deeps breaths (in a row) each hour.

2:00pm - Right after my last post I was invited into the recovery room to sit with Connie and feed her ice chips. There was a shortage of available rooms, so we had to wait it out there. Her pain level has been a 3 or below as long as she's not moving. Nausia is her biggest problem, as a result of all the medications. By 2:15pm we made it to her room and got settled in. It is 2:35 right now and she is going to try and get some more rest.

12:45pm - Connie has been in recovery for quite awhile now. Should be getting close to being able to go in and see her.

11:25am - Dr. Ferguson has come out and reported that everything went great with his part of the surgery. A retractor and drains have been installed and she can't use her left arm for doing anything strenuous for several days. He will stop by and check on her later today, and then again in the morning before she leaves. She is currently in recovery and will probably be there around an hour.

10:35 - Rocky just showed up in the waiting room. He's a 5 year old St. Bernard who they bring in each Tuesday to give people a little break from having to wait for those in surgery...kind of breaks things up a little bit. He is HUGE! Fire alarms are now going off for the third time!

10:15am - There is a fire emergency in the building...we are being told to evacuate the not use the elevators. Crap! What are they going to do with Connie in the middle of surgery? Some of the people are saying there's no way they are leaving as they have family in surgery too. The warnings are still going on 5 minutes later, but we have been told it is just a drill. Finally they have stopped. That just isn't nice!!!

9:53am - Just spoke with Dr. Price. No sign of cancer in the initial review of the nodes!!!!!!!!!! All went well. Dr. Ferguson has taken over from here to begin the reconstructive surgery.

8:30am - We have been at the hospital for two hours now, going through registration for the 50th time (it seems). Connie got dressed in her gown and pants, gave a blood and urine sample (tmi?) and was wheeled up to the second floor where we got even less time to say good-bye than we did with Kyle when he left for his mission. I was ushered down the hallway to the waiting room and found one of the two plugs in the room to blog. They have told us they have about 4 hours blocked out for surgery. Sad to say that there was very little blue from the dye...kind of disappointing.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Dye Injection Today!

We have been asked to be at the hospital today at 4pm for the dye injection, which leaves us to believe that we will be scheduled for an early surgery tomorrow morning. I believe they told us that after this shot she will begin to look like a Smurf (or is it an Avatar nowadays?) in the affected area. Perhaps I can talk her into a "safe" photo in the morning before she goes in that I can show ya, but don't hold your breath!
Added at 6:20pm:
The dye has been injected (more painful than she would have thought!) and she is back at work cleaning up and writing notes on files so co-worker's can figure out where she is.
Hospital check-in time: 6:30am
No food or drink past midnight.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Will we know all the answers right after surgery?

No, we won't know all the answers right after surgery. To find out what "stage" of cancer Connie has we will have to wait 2-4 days for pathology reports to come back from the lab. They will go over the tumor, calcifications and the nodes with a fine-toothed comb to determine how bad she has it, and it will also hopefully tell us if they were able to get it all out on the first try.

Here on the home front today, life is pretty normal. Gifts and notes of cheer have been coming in already as we prepare for our Tuesday hospital visit. Many have stopped both of us to let us know that we are in their thoughts and prayers, too. We thank all of you! We believe the surgery will be about 6 hrs long, and we still don't know what time we will need to show up at the hospital...should find out tomorrow.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Consult #2 with Dr. Price on Thur, March 11, 2010

We now have all the results back. Connie didn't carry the cancer gene and the calcifications tested negative for cancer. We got this news on Tue, March 9, 2010, and it was a good day! Dr. Price told Connie that after taking the tumor and the calcifications on the left side, she would be in the gray area of saving a deformed breast, or having a mastectomy. With the mastectomy, there would be no fear of a re-occurance of cancer. Connie made the tough decision to go with a mastectomy on one side, and was able to do a small lumpectomy for the calcifications on the other side. A surgery date was set up for Tue, March 16th. A phone call will be made indicating at what time she could go in. At a minimum of 2 hours before her surgery, she will have to have a dye injected so the surgeons can follow it to her lymph nodes under her arm. They will harvest the first two that they come to and check them for cancer during surgery. If they show cancer, then the doctor will have to assume the cancer has spread to other places in the body. He will end up taking more nodes out, and there's a good chance that chemo will be probable.

MRI Results - Thur, March 4, 2010

I took Connie in for her MRI at 8:00am. By Noon they had called back with the results: She has calcifications in both breasts, besides the cancerous tumor in her left. They would like her to show up tomorrow at 8:00am for another ultrasound and mammogram. At 8:45 they want her to speak with Dr. Ferguson, a plastic surgeon, to discuss the possibilities of reconstructive surgery. At 2:45 she was in for a biopsy for the calcifications on the left only and then a mammogram right after that was done. Time was slipping by and a decision needed to be made about surgery, however, there were many unanswered questions. Will there really need to be a mastectomy? A double? Do I have the gene? If I do, then a double would probably be best. If I don't, that would make a difference too.

We cancelled the surgery to await the results of the gene test.

Getting some answers, Mon., March 1, 2010

We made it to the hospital to speak with Dr. Price. We learned many new words and acronyms. He helped us recognize that breast cancer is extremely common and treatable. By the time we left the hospital, we had a treatment plan for doing a lumpectomy, had a request for an MRI set up and did a blood test that would tell us wether or not Connie carried a gene for cancer that could be passed on to her daughter. We even had a surgery date scheduled for Tue, Mar 9th. Connie now knew what it was she was fighting and was forging ahead to get this nasty out of her system.

Black Friday, 2/26/2010

When Connie heard the word Cancer, she immediately associated it with death. Our family doctor broke the news to her. He told her that she should call the surgeon that did her first lumpectomy several years ago, Dr. Price, and talk with him. They would put together a team of doctors for her care. "You're going to have a pretty rough year ahead of you," he said. After that she couldn't focus on work and came home early. She called to make an appt with Dr. Price and they tried to make that appt for the following Thur. Connie let them know that her doctor thought this was urgent...could we do it a little sooner. OK, Mon it is!

Monday was a loooong way away for somebody who was now shattered and had nowhere to turn to find out more information. She got through Saturday very bravely and then Sunday at sacrament meeting she did ok until the choir sang some primary songs and all of a sudden words were taking on a whole new meaning for her. Thankfully, I had enough tissues tucked away in pockets to help get through the last song and prayer and she thought it best to go quickly outside to see if she couldn't get cool air on her face so she could come back in and teach her primary class. Then the worst thing happened...her superhero friend, Jennifer, comes walking out to her car after bravely sitting through sacrament and called out a friendly, "Hello, Miss Connie!...How are you doing?" That was it, the flood gates opened and Jennifer came up to her and gave her a big hug, asking her to call her later. (Even writing this now brings tears to my eyes again.) Connie didn't think she could go back in now, so I made quick arrangements for her class to be cared for and we left for home.