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The Next Stage of the Journey into the Unknown

Stage One Diagnosis

You find out you have cancer, do all the research, schedule treatment and wait. I love my doctor in Fresno, CA, Dr. Hadcock. She moved me up so that between diagnosis and surgery there were only seventeen days!

Stage Two Treatment

For me, the beginning treatment was surgery, a lumpectomy, biopsy of two lymph nodes, nuclear medicine, a gamma probe and placement of a Biozorb.

“Intraoperative gamma detection uses gamma particles emitted by radioactive isotopes from within the body to pinpoint tissue during surgery. By targeting specific tissue, treatments and procedures can be minimally invasive, are associated with lower complication rates, and can lead to better patient outcomes. ”

Less is better as far as I am concerned!


A Biozorb looks like a spring with metallic markers that is placed where the cancer was, a little marker. It allows the doctor to keep an eye on things, so to speak. Eventually, it deteriorates leaving only the markers behind. They promised me I won’t set off any detectors at the airport.

During the first step of surgery, a doctor and technician marked Dr. Hadcock did surgical area by inserting two wires on either side of the tumor. Then they took four mammograms. The numbing agents weren’t entirely successful, but it was liveable – as evidenced by the fact I am writing about it twenty-four hours after surgery.

By nine-thirty a.m. Hector was wheeling me into a bright, operating room crowded with equipment. The surgeon and anesthesiologist awaited me as Hector helped me scoot from his cart to the operating table. Since I have old twisty veins, the anesthesia entered me painfully, but within seconds I didn’t care.

The next time I saw a clock it looked like two in the afternoon, but it was actually only ten after twelve. Vince told me that I had asked to come home. (Who knows, I thought they were nuts letting me leave so soon after I woke up.)

By twelve-thirty the nurse and my husband had dressed me, bundled me in a blanket, and loaded me like a sack of potatoes into the car. Anesthesia can make you do strange things and it still had a hold on me for quite a few hours. I cried all the way home and had a panic attack when my dog came out to greet me.

Stage Three – Recovery

My advice is not to text anyone while under the influence of the anesthetic. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. I moved my finger some random way and when I listened to my voicemail messages. Every message was from my brother. Then I finally got one without his voice from my surgeon. After that, every message I pressed was her voice.

When I tried to show Vince, the voicemails on my phone belonged to the correct people.

One message I received was a call from a reporter at the Visalia Times-Delta asking about the Kiwanis July Third Blast. Wisely I did not to return his phone call. Instead, I texted Linda about it, got the phone number mixed up and couldn’t figure out his name because his voicemail the second time was my brother’s voicemail. So don’t text while under the influence!

It has now been exactly twenty-four hours since surgery. I’m able to think again. I can eat and drink normally. My dog is no longer traumatized by my lack of attention and is sleeping on her chair next to the window. Vince is out running errands, and I am blogging.

Some people have to wear a drain. I was lucky.

Other than being totally inactive except for walking around a bit, life is back to normal. I’m wearing a cute pink velcro infested bra that holds me in rather than making me look voluptuous. I have a cute heart-shaped pillow printed with kittens under my arm at all time which I carry like a handbag filled with a million dollars in cash.

Best of all, I thought I was cancer-free for the moment.

Then the surgeon called back today and informed me of the biopsy results. The lymph nodes are clear of cancer, but the tumor was three centimeters instead of one and that the margins were not all clear.

That means that the cancer is now categorized as stage two, grade one, but slow-growing. It also means that I will have to go back into surgery and have a mastectomy.

Stage Four – Helping Others

Those of you who have had breast cancer have helped me go through this last seventeen days with calm assurance. Thank you especially to Jean Butler, Linda Hengst, and Donna Davis who have been through this before.

Thanks to Vince, for hanging in there with me and caring for me. And thanks to all my friends who have come by, called me and wished me well.

I can only hope that I will offer as much support to others when the time comes, as my many friends both with and without cancer have done for me.

11 replies »

  1. Wow this post. I honestly have not read anything about this at all before, so you have given me a lot to consider and think about – and some future reading ahead as well.


  2. I loved your story about coming out of anaesthesia. I thought that that was normal for you MVBFM 😉 LOL
    You are very brave to write about your experience and what the future is about to unfold. Get well soon my friend ❤


    • Silliness and having the ability to laugh are great qualities most of the time. They help us deal and heal. The goal of this article , as you know, is that it helps someone. There are so many who survive BC that we tend to get complacent. It’s too bad I didn’t take aggressive steps against it when it would have been easier instead of dismissing it. I still have a great chance of surviving this but the cost is greater than I imagined it would have been. Thanks for your continued friendship and your fun comments MFR. ❤️🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a day behind. I think you would be a good doctor with your scientific mind. It amazes me that you can document so many details. Keep it coming. You are an amazement, and, oh yes—we’re rooting for you all the way. M & J


    • LOL, I can’t stand the sight of blood. I hate needles and have to still close my eyes when I get stuck! Thanks for coming over today. The first thing V and I did was gobble up the cake just before Cindy got there with lunch. NO MORE CAKE!!! Lots of love, M

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry they didn’t get all the cancer and that you have to have further surgery, Marsha. At least the lymph nodes were clear. That’s a good thing. My sister is undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the moment. She also had to have surgery a second time as they didn’t get it all the first time, even with the markers. It must be difficult for them to know. I wish you success this time round and not too much discomfort. I’m sure you were hoping to avoid the mastectomy, but at least they should rid you of cancer. Wishing you wellness.


    • Did your sister have to have the mastectomy then? I’m so sorry, Norah. I’m sure you are being very careful about your own checkups, too. I was not, in spite of a clear warning sign. I dismissed it, and now I know it’s better to be as serious as a heart attack when it comes to following the signs and your instincts. This kind of cancer was not in our family.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marsha, I am so sorry to hear of your news. I am thankful that my cancer was very slow growing, and that I finally had a doctor who did not just assume that mine was an enlarged gland because I was sick. Dr. Sirjani at Stanford said that mine had been going on for decades! I go back next month for an MRI and checkup with Dr. Sirjani. Prayers and God’s Angels filling my room during and after surgery have protected me. Prayers and BELIEVING are being sent to you.


        • Thank you so much, Janet. Mine is slow growing as well. I’ve had regular mammograms but I dismissed a dimple and the lump I even noticed it. My news could have been so much worse, though. I was cursory about checking. I’m glad you persisted after your doctors assumed! You look so great!


      • My sister had a second lumpectomy. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and will have radiation after that. Her situation was complicated by her pacemaker (left breast wouldn’t you know). I’ve been having regular checks for over 20 years, as have my other sisters, as a younger sister passed from breast cancer when she was 35. I sure do hope they’ve got yours on the run. I wish you wellness. 💖





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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