The best news!

Celebratory BLT, Caesar salad and fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Lest I be accused of burying the lede again: I got my biopsy results for the margin (area around the tumour removed) and lymph node samples from last Friday’s operation. There was no sign of residual cancer cells. Comparison with the original pre-treatment biopsy drew an assessment that neoadjuvant treatment (chemotherapy) had been very successful.

Since Friday I’ve been recovering, without nearly as much pain as I expected. The first day I took the prescribed pain relievers around the clock, but since then it’s been only as needed, usually at the end of the day. My cats have been keeping an eye on me, and I’ve been eating lightly but healthily and with some appetite.

“She’s alive! Alive!”

Sunday was the first day I was authorized to take a shower, and I felt some trepidation at the thought of looking at the incisions. I carefully removed the bandages and found no sign of bleeding or inflammation. Of course, the cuts and sutures look like I’m the bride of Frankenstein’s creature. I very gingerly washed, trying to get rid of the large swaths of colour left by the surgical cleaning products on the skin  of my arm, shoulder, upper back, chest, and abdomen. Pat dry, terrified of pulling on a suture. Oof! Adventures in hygiene!

I’d had been instructed to walk and move my arms in order to prevent blood clots and to promote healing. (As of Friday, I no longer need to take warfarin nor Lovenox.) I try to get my little walk most days, either on a nature trail like San Andreas Lake or just running errands. (I’ve finally discovered that the Audubon Society has field guides as free apps, including one for the birds of California. Woot!)

So when I went in today I was feeling good about the process, and I had a reasonable expectation that the news would not be too frightening. But in truth, I was not ready for completely good news. I was expecting words like promising, inconclusive, monitoring, follow-up, and so forth. So when Dr. Chen gave me the very categorical “no residual cancer cells found” and “very successful chemotherapy program,” I felt a shock.

My reflex was to turn to Edmund to high-five but he was on my sutured side so I refrained. Great time to pull something! Edmund had to wipe tears away. I wanted to hoot loudly, but I would hate to be a jerk to other patients and to personnel. Instead I asked Dr. Chen to thank her whole team for me. And we walked away without being disruptive.

Only in the parking structure did we exchange a long hug.

Next Monday: we meet the radiation oncologist to talk about radiotherapy!

Advent Day 18: Mercy

Today’s topic is “Mercy.” This is taken in winter at the Lac-Boivin Nature Preserve in Quebec; someone had left seed for the birds and squirrels. Believe me, during the cold Canadian winter, the critters can use it!

Advent Day 18: Mercy

Image by Sophie Lagacé 2005, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Advent Day 12: Hope

Today’s topic is “Hope.” Doesn’t that gull look hopeful for French fries?

The photo is taken at Ivar’s along the waterfront in Seattle, with my trusty Holga toy camera.

Advent Day 12: Hope

Image by Sophie Lagacé 2005, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Advent Day 7: Ready

Another piece I did for my art club, this time for the weekly theme “Flying.” I based it on this video of an owl swooping down.  Technical stuff: Drawn in Jasc PaintShop Pro 7 with a Wacom Intuos 3 4×5 tablet and stylus.

Owl in flight

Image by Sophie Lagacé 2010, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.

Advent Day 6: Awake

A piece I did for my former art club three years ago for the weekly theme “Coffee.” This is not a giant hummingbird on a regular coffee mug, it’s a normal hummingbird on a demi-tasse. And definitely awake.  🙂

Advent Day 6: Awake

Edit: Art Blah-Blah: Here are the two photos I used for visual reference (cup and hummingbird). I opened the photos next to my work area and sketched both together in one image.  I picked five key colours from the photos and placed them in my palette: red from the cup, and bright green, dark-green-almost-black, white, and orange from the hummingbird photo. MyPaint allows me to “dip” the electronic brush in the colours as needed.

I kept the splash of orange behind the hummingbird’s head; in the original photo it was probably a flower or a feeder, but I chose to interpret it as the sun for the morning coffee tie-in.

Technical stuff: Drawn in MyPaint 0.8.2 with Wacom Intuos 3 4×5 tablet and stylus.  For those who care, the 8 layers are, from bottom to top: green background (pastel paper), palette (hidden), sun, cup sketch, hummingbird sketch, cup colours, hummingbird colours, signature.  No effects, filters, or other gimmicks.

Image by Sophie Lagacé 2010, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.