Sing for the joy that's found in setting up the pins and knocking them down

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Time to Celebrate / Cancer Update

I'm going to take it from the top for those of you who might have joined us late or would rather not sift through old postings saying, "When exactly did she start this all...."

  1. I found a lump on October 19 and was diagnosed with breast cancer on October 24.  
  2. Left breast, 2 o'clock, 2.2 cm mass - invasive carcinoma, your traditional breast cancer.  One cancerous node which automatically tips you into the oh crap category
  3. Triple positive--estrogen, progesterone, & HER/neu  
    • A little aside story here.  My brother, Brent came to my initial appointment with my surgeon who he had done part of his residency with at Abbott.  As Dr. Anderson went through all these "positives" the diagnosis sounded increasingly more ominous.  I think at one point I looked at my brother and said, "Am I completely screwed?"  It was so great to have him there to assure me that, yes, it was bad, but what I had was very treatable and would play nicely with treatment.  
  4. 6 rounds of chemo starting November 14 and ending March 10 (every three weeks).  I take a cocktail of Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin and the newly approved, Perjeta (Pertuzumab).  I was one of the first 5 people to receive Perjeta at Abbott.  Also decided, with a little help from my friends to do cold-capping to save me from chemo hair loss-yay!
  5. Once chemo was wrapped up, I continue to get a bag of Herceptin pumped into me every 3 weeks for a year (ending mid November).  It's an easy process and leaves me with very few, if any, side effects.  
  6. Daily Tamoxifin pills for the next 5 to 10 years--no biggie. 
  7. March 14 MRI shows cancer is gone and the yucky chemo has done its job!
  8. April 14 Bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and 3 nodes removed successfully.  All cancer was completely responsive to (killed by!) chemo.
Normally, per standard care treatment, this all would be followed up by radiation (5 weeks, 5 days per week) due to the fact that the cancer had spread to my nodes.  I'm told that I'm a candidate for the B51 study which due to my complete response to chemo gives me a 50/50 chance of having radiation.  I talk to my brothers, my oncologist, surgeon, anyone who will listen...looking at my options.  If I just go ahead and have radiation it feels like I'm covering all my bases, really killing anything that might be lurking inside of me.  On the flip side, radiation comes with its own set of risks and might not be necessary.  I ask my oncologist, "If I was your wife, what would you advise?"  He said he could honestly tell me to do one thing or the other--they just don't know if radiation (for people with my type of cancer and response) improves your prognosis and that's why they're doing this study.  I decide to be part of the study.  I pray like crazy that God, in his infinite wisdom will control the "coin toss" and do what's best for my body and His plan for my life down the road.  I also pray for peace with whatever the decision is.

On Friday I received word that I had been entered into the study and I didn't have to do radiation!  Okay, I was happy and relieved.  I had truly prepared myself for either outcome, but it was so good to get a pass on this.  Now I can truly get on with my recovery and know that the worst is behind me. And I'm not one bit freaked out by not having radiation.

I've had the most amazing doctors, nurses and medical staff (well there was that one nurse in radiation...) during this whole process.  I'm so grateful for their brilliance and their kindness.  This has been a long road and I'm not quite done, but I'm definitely making my way down the easier side of the mountain.

PS.  I've attached the photo of my first report from my oncologist, Dr. Bloom.  He used to be a stand-up comedian in New York--need I say more.  He even made cancer funny.