This is Sheena, and welcome to my first post. I am here to give you the official update about Andrea’s surgery today. Don and I arrived around 5:00 a.m. at Andrea and Kelly’s house, where I walked in to find a very beautiful and chipper Andrea at the computer, leaving a few words for all who read her blog. She really did look beautiful, and far too composed for any surgery patient, let alone a woman on her way to a mastectomy and ooferectomy. We chatted and laughed for a few minutes, woke Jesse and Bailey with our raised voices, and hung out. It all seemed so normal– me, Don, Kelly, Andrea and the kids hanging out, joking, giving each other a hard time. It could have been any day– but it was pitch black, 5:00 a.m., and the day of her life-changing procedure. We soon walked out the door and to the car, and started our short drive to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP).
The check-in was swift, and in a matter of minutes, we were waiting in the Ambulatory Procedure Unit for her name to be called, at which point she would walk down the long hall and behind the double doors into pre-op. It was like waiting for Rod Roddy to call your name to “Come on down” to be the next contestant on The Price is Right. Around 7:15 a.m., Andrea was summoned, and she was on her way through those scary doors. She had a wonderful nurse, Bruce, who kept things light. She met her very nice anesthesiologist. Both of her surgeons stopped by and told her it would all be fine. Slight bump– the plastic surgeon who was supposed to be closing her mastectomy was out of town. They were very reassuring and confident, though, and promised to get a replacement right away. Andrea was totally calm through all of this. I don’t think the rest of us were calm. The staff did not pull some random “plastics guy” from the corridors, but found her an excellent plastic surgeon to close the incision. His name was Dr. Chang, and although we never met, I know he is a wonderful man because he also works at CHOP. Anyone who performs plastic surgery on children has a calling and a careful, kind heart.
At about 7:45, we said goodbye to Andrea, and hustled to the Surgical Family Waiting Room. The room is huge, and there are giant plasma screens hung on the walls, that scroll the initials of your loved ones, and give you updates on where the surgeons are in the procedure. They begin with when the patient was brought into the OR, move to when the first incision was made, stay agonizingly still until it moves to when the patient leaves the OR, when they can receive visitors in revovery, and finally when they’ve been moved to their rooms. It’s like watching a stock ticker; watching last night’s scores scroll by; staring at the walls of screens at the airport to find out which gate you need to sprint to. A rotating OR nurse will also give you periodic updates, with details that a screen with times cannot give to you.
Here’s the news you’ve all been scrolling down to read. The mastectomy went very well. There were no surprises, no scary moments, just best case scenario. Dr. Czerneicki was very confident that he removed all of the cancer that he could see in her neck, breasts, and lymph nodes. We will not know if she has clean margins until our follow-up in 11 days, when we will get the pathology report. The plastics team said the closing “went beautifully.” Dr. Rubin also had great success. He was able to remove the ovaries and tubes laproscopically (sp?), and could not see any sign of cancer in any of the surrounding tissue. He, too, used the term “beautifully” to describe the appearance and removal of the organs. The Big Board told us that the first incision was made at 8:31 a.m., and she was pushed out of the OR roughly 7 hours later. I think, surgically speaking, today was a great success. I have not doubt in my mind that our Andrea was in the best hands possible.
They then moved her to recovery, where things got hairy. As predicted, Andrea woke up vomiting, in a great deal of pain. I did not see her in recovery, but from what I understand, it was brutal. Kelly and Naomi were by her side in recovery, trying everything they could, I am sure, to make it right. At about 8:30 p.m., she was moved to her room. A private room. Who’s the high roller at HUP? I was so happy to see her. To me, to borrow a word that has now become a theme, she looked beautiful. I would be kidding everyone if I made it seem like the worst was over. It is still not easy. She is in a great deal of pain. I cannot even begin to comment on the emotional aspect of all of this. She will have a rough night.
However, as annoying as this may sound, I am thankful for today. I am thrilled that she had the best surgeons not just in our area, but arguably in the country. I am thankful that they were able to remove all of the disease they could see. I am thankful that she got out of recovery, and into her private room and the loving arms of her family. I include myself and Don in that group, with the Great Kelly and the Fierce Naomi. I feel very strongly that as horrible as today was, it has brought Andrea one step closer to healing. I know that as each hour passes, she will feel better. I did not sleep last night, and so I must apologise for my spelling errors, and sign off until My Second Post. There was so much love in the Surgical Family Waiting Room. Thanks to Josh, Luke and Alys for being not just fun at mastecomies, but also wonderful, loving friends.