Holding Space

With Shelly Vaughn


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Recovery

Yesterday was August 1st… mark that in your calendars as one of the best appointments so far!!! My prayers for healing have been heard and answered. First of all, I got my drains out which was a huge relief. And the surgeon said that’s the fastest he has ever taken them out of someone (just 6 days).

We knew during surgery that there were cancer cells found in one of the sentinel lymph nodes (which is why they removed a whole cluster of them after that). I still don’t know how many more were removed, but he said there were only “isolated tumor cells” in one of them, which is technically still considered negative. No other lymph nodes had any sign of cancer. He said it was because the chemo was so effective in killing the cancer in the lymph nodes. And the original tumor had shrunk to 1.2 cm. All margins are clear, which means there were no cancer cells near any of the edges of what was removed.

With the mastectomy and lymph node removal, they basically got all the cancer OUT of me!!!! It feels so good to know it’s gone!! I’m healing well, the incisions look good, and I have another follow up next week. I’m in a lot of pain today from where the drains came out… my tissue had already started adhering to the drains, so it ripped a little when he removed the drains. I’m taking pain meds to manage that pain for now and hopefully it will be better in a few days.

I will still do radiation as is protocol for treatment. That will happen in about 5 weeks when I’m healed from this. It’s the last big step for this time period (as reconstruction will happen next year).

My mom was here to help a ton last week. And we’ve had a lot of help with the girls and visitors to the hospital (thanks, Lisa GonidakisCindy Hastings WinterBrittany ArmstrongAmber Pierce NormanHannah SpringerKeely A Smith-JividenCinnamon Leonard, Becky Kearns, and Doug Gates.) I also had my own personal nurse today to help with changing my wound dressings (Kelly Dawn Hobbs) . It’s times like these I realize how wonderfully God has paved the way ahead of me… all the people He has placed in my life and ready to help when I need it. Thanks for all the prayers… please keep them coming for comfort as I continue to heal and pray that the pain subsides. Thanks everyone!


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Because He Lives…

Tomorrow is surgery day. We go in early and surgery is scheduled for 10:30. Should take about 4 hours. Please pray for this to go well and for my healing afterwards. I’ll be having a bilateral mastectomy (without reconstruction at this time- that will happen next year after I’m healed from radiation.) Also, pray for Rob as he takes care of me over these next few weeks. And, of course, for Olivia and Liana as they have to make another adjustment in their lives because of my health. They are with friends tonight (thanks, Amber Pierce Norman) and will go to a birthday party tomorrow afternoon, so they should be well preoccupied. Thanks to everyone who called or texted today as well. I’ve been very nervous.

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Moving Forward

Sorry it’s taken a while to update everyone. I do have some medical updates and the next steps of my treatment plan in place. First (the best news)- I got results from my MRI and it looks clear!! They cannot see any part of the original tumor and the lymph nodes look normal. So all of that horrible poison did its job!!

Moving forward- the date for surgery will be on July 26th. I have very mixed feelings about it, but confident that this is the best thing for me. About 6 weeks after surgery will be radiation, which will last 6 weeks. And then I’ll have phase two of surgery in 6-12 months, depending on how I’m healing from everything. It’s a longer, more complicated plan than I was hoping for. But it’s what needs to be done. All 3 of the doctors working with me (surgeon, plastic surgeon, and radiation oncologist) agree that this is the best plan to prevent recurrence, and I have a lot of years ahead of me to keep this away.

Physically, I’m feeling better each day without chemo. The mouth sores are gone and I’m able to eat most things. I have more energy than I’ve had in a while. My only complaints now would be that my fingertips (and a small part of my toes) are still numb and my fingernails are falling off. I’m also pretty sore every morning and my legs feel very tight. It feels like I worked out hard the night before, even though I haven’t. I’m guessing it’s just my body getting used to doing regular, everyday things. So if you’re looking for specific things to pray about, those would be good ones. All in all, nothing even close to how I was feeling the last few months, and that’s a wonderful thing!

I hope you’re all enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sound of the birds as much as I am. If you haven’t yet, take a moment tomorrow to soak it in… it’s a beautiful world out there!