From July 2, 2017

Surgery!!

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — 

We had quite the experience on Friday. I was cleared for surgery the night before and then had to come to the Oviedo Medical Center at 7 to be ready for the planned surgery at 830. I was poked, prodded and stuck with a variety of needles. They brought me into the operating room and someone literally yelled STOP!! Apparently there was something left over from a previous surgery on some of the instruments. So back out to preop. The extra hour they initially told us turned into 3 and then they finally brought me back in. It was after dinner when I finally got to my room for the night. According to the surgeon I tolerated the surgery well and the rods are placed in both femurs to stabilize my legs. Wasn’t anticipating that there would be so much pain and that the narcotics given for the pain would be so debilitating. Surgeon kept saying I would have surgical pain … since I’ve never had surgery on my lower body I had no frame of reference. Well now i do!! Was able to stand yesterday but not much else. The dr changed my meds and allowed me to bring in my own anti-nausea meds. By the end of yesterday I felt more like myself mentally and I was able to get out of bed (with lots of help) and sit in a chair. Amazing how the benchmarks and milestones change.

Hoping to be discharged today and my bloodwork is doing well overall. I’m not sure PT will sign off unless I can walk to the bathroom. Setting goals is good! My body does not feel like mine right now but I am stronger this morning and am learning to take this slower than I’d like. 🙂

From June 29, 2017

What a day!!

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — 

Today has had some crazy elements and was a wild ride … started with a brain MRI. First normal test results in a while. Then the Orthopaedic surgeon called up to say that he was questioning whether surgery on my legs could happen tomorrow and was consulting with a spinal specialist. My heart just sank. Off to the hospital for 3 more hours in an MRI for clear views of all parts of my spine. I’ve never thought of myself as a claustrophobic person but wowzers that was tough. I’m not sure the instructor intended it for this purpose but I utilized many of the breathing and focusing techniques we learned in our hypnobirthing class for when Malcolm was born to get through that. 800 pictures later, went to get bloodwork done and await the news. Got the call this evening that I’m cleared for surgery tomorrow but will need to follow up with the spinal specialist for something in my lumbar spine. That will be an issue to be tackled next week. I’m so thankful for the team of doctors working with me — they collaborated well into the evening to ensure all elements are covered and I’m not even a patient of the spinal specialist yet. I’m also so thankful for all of the friends and family who have continued to support me, my sweet husband and my kiddos. Particularly mom who “schooled” several medical professionals today as only a mother can when fighting for her child.

More great discussions with the dear sisters who are working with me to transition my clients and several employees who have become like family. I have more peace tonight about this next phase in my life because I know they will honor my efforts and investment.

Onto tomorrow….

From June 28, 2017

Closer to surgery …

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — 

Mom and I went to the Infusion center this morning for bloodwork and shots in anticipation of surgery. Xgeva shot was not a big deal and bloodwork was good so I didn’t have to get the other shot to boost my white blood cell count.

While we were waiting to leave I spoke with the Orthopaedic surgeon. He looked at the skeletal survey I did yesterday and spoke with my whole team. Lesion on the left leg is not as large as the right but both are in the parts of my femurs that receive the most stress from walking/standing. Recommendation is to put a rod in both legs to stabilize the bones. Agreed and everything looks good for surgery Friday but may need to stay two nights rather than one.

Bloodwork and preop appointments tomorrow. Surgery Friday

I met with a dear friend today about my clients and the firm. She and her partner are praying about coming alongside the people who depend on me and taking that off of me.

From June 27, 2017

More appointments!!

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — 

It’s going to be a very busy week getting ready for surgery. Shots and blood work start tomorrow to boost my white blood cell count and keep a close watch on my overall health. Starting the Xgeva shot as well that will prompt calcium to move from my blood into my bones as well. No results from the skeletal study (X-rays of all my bones) but doctors have conferred and believe I’ll be healthy enough for surgery this week. Still awaiting recommendations for one rod or two based on the X-rays.

Orthopaedic surgeon is quite the character and shared stories of his 10 and 12 year old sons and their antics during the appointment yesterday and again today on the phone. All of the nurses know that we have two boys and have asked after them.

So thankful for mom being here to drive me hither and yon this week, teach me how to properly work the crutches and wheelchair and for backing up Elliot with the boys.

Elliot and I met with a therapist today to help support us through the process and make good decisions as we walk together through this experience. Lots of tears but another avenue of support for us both.

From June 26, 2017

More about the bones

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — Jun 26, 2017

We went to the Orthopaedic doctor today for a consult about my right femur. He showed us the X-rays from Friday and the area of my bone that needs stabilization. Good news is that the surgery to put the titanium rod in my femur will have less recovery time than we anticipated. Surgery is likely going to happen on Friday afternoon with a one night stay at the hospital. Dr says weight bearing is possible right away and I could walk from the hospital. The only limitation to having the surgery is my white blood cell count so blood work on Thursday.

Orthopaedic doctor reviewed the bone scans from last week and called to tell me that there is a corresponding but smaller lesion on my left femur and he may want to put a rod to stabilize that bone too. Or possible that we radiate both bones after recovery from surgery on the right.

Upcoming appointments…

Skeletal study tomorrow

Brain MRI on Thursday morning

Blood work Thursday

Xgeva shot Thursday

Potential surgery Friday

Next chemo the following Friday

Radiation on my leg(s) a week or so after that

The X-rays today were scary. The cancer is everywhere. Holding onto what feels like the last shreds of hope and optimism tonight. Affects of chemo have not been as bad this round so that’s a positive but feeling so weak isn’t my cup of tea.

Holding onto Ps 30:5 … “Weeping may last for the night but a shout of joy comes in the morning.”

 

From June 24, 2017

Updates and new diagnosis

Journal entry by Abigail Johnston — 

recapping the news from this past week … bone scans and CT scans show that the breast cancer has spread to my bones.  Specifically and concentrated in the large bones, but pretty much everywhere.  I have a 5cm tumor in my right femur that is of the greatest concern since that’s a weight bearing bone.  There has been much surprise and concern that I’ve been able to keep walking and am not in lots of pain.  Staying off of it now that I know a fracture is likely if I keep putting my weight on that leg.

Next steps … continue with chemo (2nd treatment of the first type was yesterday) and redo the bone scans to see if chemo is working to shrink the mets.  Need surgery (probably next week) to stabilize my right femur and then start radiation to shrink that tumor.
Lots of adjustments now that the diagnosis and treatment are very different.   Cancer is something that I will live with the rest of my life and I’ll never be able to say that I’m cancer free.   Scary and overwhelming and I don’t know what is next.  What I do know is that I love my boys and Elliot and all of you and appreciate all of your support and love and well wishes.
Abi

Finally

I’ve been asked repeatedly whether I have a blog and why not since I was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer in 2017.  I’ve resisted since I’ve been writing and doing other things, but I’ve finally taken the plunge.  I’ll be transitioning my posts from my Caring Bridge site here over the next few days and stay tuned for some new stuff I’ve been working on!

Thanks for connecting!

Abigail