Thursday, January 28, 2010

My Fake One and Updates!!

On Saturday I decided to wear my fake one for the first time.  I put it in the bra and realized that it is perky and mine is saggy.  I was in a panic so Todd called the Morgan's and Katie came to the rescue.  She brought tape and another fake one.  For fifteen minutes we worked to get the fake one saggy!!!  How funny is that :) We finally got it so it didn't look so different.  The biggest problem was the fake one kept crawling up and felt like it was hitting me in the chin. And the real one kept sagging!!!  

On Monday..I went and met my radiation doc.  There was so much information that she went over.  It lasted two hours.  She explained that she wants to see skin changes on my chest; which means that my skin will look like it has been sunburnt.  The radiation will be from my neck to the middle of my ribs from the middle of my breasts to under my arm pit.  It looks like it will be Monday through Friday for five to seven weeks. 

On Tuesday, I went to therapy and was told my muscles on my chest wall is to tight.  I have to start therapy to loosen up those muscles.  The exercises are not very much fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just a little something

Below is something one of Campbell's friends mom sent me.  She found a cancerous lump in her breast about two months after I got diagnosed.  I liked it so I thought I would share it with all of you.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, what if you didn't sign up for extra-strength training? What if you'd rather catch a few breaks once in awhile? Is that so much to ask? At some point, you'd think you'd be entitled to a free pass or two: skip this challenge; avoid this crisis; delete those problems. It's not that you're not strong or that you don't have what it takes to get through this. You are, you do, and you will. But you've built enough character already, and it's time for things to lighten up a little! I know it's not really my call, but if I were in charge of life's wheel of fortune, you'd get a free spin. And, I'd be right there, cheering you on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Answer

My breast tissue that was removed weighed 3.7 lbs.  1628 grams.

That is alot of breast tissue!!!!

New Information

We went to the Cancer Care yesterday and Dr. Kennedy called.  At both places we received a lot of information (new and old) about the cancer.

1. Lymph nodes were negative
2. Skin and nipple negative.
3. Cancer mass started out as 5 cm when removed was .2 cm (which is the size of a tip of pin).
4. Pathology Report stated this is a stage one cancer...which means that the chemo has worked. Even though path says stage one; my cancer is still stage three C. 
5. We will continue to be treated as having Stage 3c cancer.
6. Dr. Kakani stated that it is like being 99% cancer free. Dr. Kennedy stated this is not the results of someone with a poor prognosis. 
7 Pet Scan scheduled in two weeks to rule out cancer in other places.
8. Got information about a clinical trail involving tamoxfin.  A drug I have to take for five years.  Todd and I need to look over all the information before deciding.
9. Drains will be getting removed on Friday.  They are really annoying and not allowing me to sleep very well. Range of motion in my arm is also inhibited because they are still in. 
10. Due to my port being removed, discussed with Dr. Kakani about when to get a new one.  I have 7 more rounds of herceptin; which is given through an IV.

Description of what Herceptin is:

TRASTUZUMAB (tras TOO zoo mab) is a monoclonal antibody. It targets a protein called HER2. This protein is found in roughly 25 to 30 percent of breast cancers. By interfering with this protein, this medicine can stop cancer cell growth. This medicine may be used with other cancer treatments.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Child's View

Last night it was time to empty my drains and Todd and I were in the bathroom.  Campbell decided she wanted to help.  Todd and I looked at each other in fear; we did not know what to do.  I explained to her what mommy's chest looked like and told her that if she did not want to see she could leave the room.  She looked at my chest and asked some questions.  Then she left and went to the kitchen to get this poster she made that said mommy the greatest. She came back in to the bathroom and held the sign up and talked to me about my chest.  Todd and I could not believe that she did not even flinch when she saw my chest.  She taught me a lot last night.

Friday, January 15, 2010

God is Good!!!

I got rest of tests results today, still have some questions about them. But this is what they said. Skin and nipple negative for cancer. (Skin was positive in July). All lymph nodes negative.  Margins were big enough surrounding the cancer mass.  All good news.  Drains are not filling up as full.  Should be able to get them removed sometime next week.

Thanks for your prayers.

Some Test Results and My Stay At Home

Mary Jane from Doc's office called and informed us that all 16 lymph nodes removed were cancer free. Which means all the chemo drugs worked.  Still waiting on other path reports.  We did find out how much the breast tissue weighed that they removed and Todd wants to start some type of poll.  Look for that either on the blog or facebook.

Today I took a shower and the bandage fell off.  I yelled at Todd because I was emotional wreck.  It is getting easier but it is still shocking.  Wondering how to example to Campbell why I look like I do.  Like the wonderful husband he is..he said you are still beautiful.  I check it out again and there are no stitches.  Just a straight line incision with some pretty purple and yellow bruising. Mom came over and hung out with me today.  She did not cry in front of me when she saw it; so it must not be that bad. Over all, I just feel tired and very sore.  The exercises I have to do with my arm are exhausting and I still tire very easily. 

We have had a few visitors and some really great food.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your prayers.  We are almost half way through this crazy journey.


My version

Monday and Tuesday was quite a blur for me.  I had no idea how much cause of concern I gave all of you until yesterday when Todd and I actually talked about.  Dr. Kennedy was amazing through it all and before both surgeries she held my hand as I went to sleep. 

On Tuesday, Dr. Kennedy was changing my bandages and I decided I did not want to look at my new chest.  Todd did want to.  So, I close my eyes while Dr. K and Todd looked at my wound.  After a few minutes I opened my eyes and looked at Todd.  He a look of relief on his face.  It made me feel so good that I did not see a look of disguist on his face.  After it was covered back up, I asked him about it. He said it was really bruised but it did not look as bad as he thought it would. 

The rest of Tuesday was much of a blur.  They gave me the pain pill Presect (sp?) and it caused quite an allergic reaction.  I felt that there were things crawling on me and I could not stop itching.  So they went to a different drug that did not have the side effects.

Wednesday morning Dr. Kennedy came in about 7:00 and asked if I wanted to go home.  I was a little stunned but excited to see my kids.  When she was in the room I asked her if I could see my chest.  She took off the bandages and held my hand.  Todd held my other hand while I looked.  When I first looked, I started to cry immediately.  I am not sure how to explain what I felt when I looked.  Almost a sense of relief and some sadness because of the drastic change to my body.  Dr. Kennedy talked to us about how this was a step towards being cancer-free.  Todd and Dr. Kennedy was so supportive during the unveiling of the change.  Later in the morning as they were changing my bandages and I only cried a little. When I went to the shower I was checking out my chest and thought that it look like my cousin's chest did when he was a kid.  Just concaved and really bruised.  The incision is still covered up by a bandage that will fall off in the shower.   

Todd was told by the doctor that they only took out all of the tissue that had to do with the breast.  She said that when they give me a new breast they can do lyposuction on what I call my arm pit fat!!!  If you are girl, you know exactly what I am talking about. We will know the pathology reports by Monday.  Which will let us know a lot more details about the cancer.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 2 - Hospital Stay

First, I would like to start with some positive news from yesterday. On surgery day, Mom, Jerry, Dad, Gina, Todd and I all wore our "Melissa's Crusaders" t-shirts. We received multiple comments and smiles throughout the day. It was really great because it was easy to see that Melissa had her own little cheering section. It was also nice for us to have the many blessings from all of you with your hundreds of texts/facebook comments, this was source of strength throughout the day!

A few more little tidbits from yesterday.

#1 - There was a very sweet girl named, Shannon, that spoke to the family early in the day and asked who Melissa was and commented on how great it was that we were all here showing our support. Unbeknown to us or Shannon, she would meet the "infamous Melissa" (Shannon's words) , as she was the one that brought Melissa to her room after surgery #1. It was great, Melissa had no idea how famous she had become while in surgery.

#2 - Somehow through all the stress and "hiccups" Melissa maintained her smile and even thanked the staff for getting her back into surgery. Melissa never ceases to amaze, as we were on the edge of our seats, she is smiling and thanking the staff for fitting her in.

#3 - Actually got to meet Dr. Kennedy in person! I was so happy about this, she and her staff are angels on earth!

Melissa is now nearing the end of day two in the hospital, I am very pleased to say that day two has been quieter and much more calm than surgery day. Melissa is no longer hooked up to oxygen or an IV and was able to walk a little bit today. She also sat in a chair and posted some comments on facebook as well. Currently the pain has not been too terrible, but we all know that will change as time goes by. Dr. Kennedy has been in twice today and probably will be back one more time. The Social Worker from Dr. K's office came by today, she is a 3 year survivor, she is very compassionate and wanted to see if Melissa needed anything. Melissa did have a few visitors today, but has mainly been trying to rest, which we all know is much needed. One more thing that touched me today. The lady that brought Melissa's lunch today, said that Melissa just glows, and that she could see her strength. Even though Melissa did not ask for this to happen, she continues to fight through with grace and will continue to do so.

Monday, January 11, 2010


After a challenging day, Melissa looks great!

Melissa, Todd and their respective families truly appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers. They have served as a source of strength.

Thank you all!

Before filling you in on the details of the day's events, you all should know that Melissa is recovering very well! In fact, she is sleeping soundly as I write this update from her room.

January 11, 2010
6:00 AM ET

Melissa was admitted to Clarian North Hospital in Carmel, Indiana.

January 11, 2010
8:33 AM to 11:00 AM ET

Melissa entered the operating room for initial surgery to remove her right breast and the adjacent lymph nodes.

January 11, 2010
4:13 PM ET

After becoming light headed, inter alia, Melissa was reexamined by her doctor. Upon the doctor's review, Melissa headed back to the operating room due to some light post-surgery bleeding. She was patched and cleaned up without any further problems.

Post-surgery bleeding is common and should not be viewed as a cause for concern. In fact, the treating surgeon, Dr. Kennedy, characterized it as a "hiccup."

Overall, Melissa has received excellent care under Dr. Kennedy as well as the entire staff at Clarian North.


While there was loss, Melissa surpassed a significant milestone today as she woks to become cancer-free.

That said, Melissa's battle is not yet over. We hope that you will continue to keep Melissa in your thoughts and prayers.

From my own experience, I can tell you that losing a part of you is difficult. So, please do not be afraid to call Melissa and/or to discuss this loss with her. I strongly encourage you to call Melissa and check in with her periodically. Talking about the loss with and listening to her WILL help her during this period of transition. In addition, you will likely learn something from her and about yourself. So, I urge you to stay in touch with Melissa.

Justin M. Hall

PS: While Melissa is in the hospital, please feel free to post your comments at this blog. You can also contact Melissa or Todd by email or send them a text message. Thank you.

Lots of ups and downs....

First I will start by saying this is not Melinda, this is Todd.

Today has been a day that we have been working towards since the beginning of July. The day started off going well. Melissa's blood was clotting normally and they could procede with surgery. The surgery lasted about 2.5 hours and went as planned according to the surgeon, who has been nothing but EXCELLENT! After she was in her room after recovery things went a little down hill. She was feeling a little queasy and hot. She said she had to go to the bathroom. The OT , her nurse, and I helped her to the bathroom and she about passed out in the bathroom. Her blood pressure had DROPPED extremely low.
We got Melissa back into the bed and she started feeling better. The nurse contacted the doctor and she came right back in to see her. She immediately said that there is some extra bleeding and that they will have to do surgery again. That is where we are right now. Melissa is back in surgery and we are waiting for the doctor to come out and let us know what is going on. Please continue to pray and send us your positive thoughts. We appreciate EVERYTHING.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

My Crusader's and Boob Voyage!!!

Today at church all the members who bought Melissa's Crusaders shirts wore them today.  Even my pastor preached from the pulpit with it on.  At the end of the service, they gave the whole family bracelets that say "leap for the cure". Then, they did a prayer circle for me.  I cried!! I won't even lie about it.  Since Todd and I have been members (only four years), I have never been in a circle prayer like was amazing.  Just what I needed to today.

Last Saturday night, I invited several of the women in my life to say, "Boob Voyage" to the right breast.  An amazing night but not for the shy:)  We had name tags made from boob imprinted paper.  There were pink streamers, boob balloons, boob suckers, and boob gummies decorating the room.  We played pin the nipple on the boobs, name all the slang terms for  boobs that you can and make as many words as you can from breast cancer.  I laughed so hard. My friend Katie found on the Internet a list of slang terms for boobs that had 90 slang words on it.  I ended up reading some of the out loud; they were so funny.  The girls gave me a book that had pictures of 90 of the 300 Melissa's Crusaders in it and a card that sings "I Will Survive".  For those on facebook, there are photos posted on my page.

I am writing this from the hotel the night before my surgery... Todd and I have been amazed by the support we have received over the last six months.  Tomorrow is just another step in this journey of mine.  We feel lucky and gracious for all of our friends and family who have and will continue to support us during this long journey of ours.  I am ready for this next step...with all of you by side it will make it so much easier. 

The biggest problem I had this week is that I couldn't figure out what to pack. No way can you ever remember all that you need. Yes, I did remember my new bra with the new fake breast, though!! Besides the bra, I brought my Melissa's Crusaders photo book, a picture of my kids, and my "I Will Survive!" card.  Another friend of mine gave me a rubbing coin that says Survivor on it.  I plan on holding it tomorrow morning until they say it is time.  The only other problem that I am having is I am becoming one of my youth group boys and becoming addicted to my Wii.  I played for five hours the other day and Todd and I played unitl 11:30 p.m. last night.

My sister will update tomorrow and let you all know what the outcome is...say a prayer for me around 8 a.m.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Just remember I have not updated blog in a very long is the current update.

Last week they found a blood clot, which meant surgery was postponed.  Dr. Kennedy had me see her on Monday the 4th.  They ran a dopplar on my clot to be found.  She even checked with a vascular surgereon.  He saw no problems with me having surgery on the 11th.  So we were able to schedule surgery at 8:00 a.m.  Todd and I have to be there at 6:00 a.m.  Todd's mom is coming to the house to watch the kids for a couple days while we are in Indy.  Hope to be home on Wednesday the 13th (Todd's brother birthday.).  The surgery can last up to 3 1/2 hours.  I will have my sister blog on Monday to give you all an update.