Monday, May 21, 2012

Update: Still Feeling Cancer-iffic

My follow-up appt was last Wednesday, May 16th. It went really well, except for the fact that we already knew there was cancer in one of the four lymph nodes removed. The good news is that the radiation plans have been scratched. There were no cancer cells detected in the chest muscle that was removed (near the larger tumor). Initially, they thought that this tumor was so close to the chest wall that I would need radiation in order to be sure that they "get it all." So I should note that there are BIG AMENS going up for that news.

Back to the lymph node issue. It is not ideal. We do not want to believe that the cancer was anywhere outside of the right breast, but it looks like it was trying to make its way elsewhere to spread more cancer-cheer. The doctors need to determine if there is any cancer in the other lymph nodes on my right side (arm pit) because they just have to know this. Why, you ask? Well I just don't quite understand that myself except that it just helps them know what was going on in there. You see, there are 3 layers of lymph nodes and they will remove some fatty (What?!?! Fat?!?! Under MY arm?!?! Oh no they didn't just say that!!!) layers of tissue from under my arm that will comprise the first TWO layers of the lymph nodes. Those nodes will be examined. If there are NO cancer cells present, the plan to proceed forward with chemo, etc will continue.

NOTE: The third layer is just different and there is NO plan to check those nodes at this point. It is closer to your collarbone and can have many more negative side effects that just the removal of these first two layers, so I'm going to let the experts make that call and say I'm good with that decision.

IF there are more cancers cells, (a very big "if" because the surgical oncologist and the medical oncologist do not think they will find more) then they will have that information, which is important. But the current course of treatment with chemo will not change. They will most likely add back the plans for radiation just to get a more targeted treatment. For whatever reason, they just NEED to know if there is more. Again, my non-oncology-mind tells me to just take their word for this and go with it.

So right now, I am at Stage IIb (2b). This is not as "easy" as I had originally thought, but it is still VERY survivable. I will go with the treatments that they recommend. And I will also participate in a clinical trial. I will go into more detail about that and my pathology results in another post, but I just wanted to get the latest out here so that I don't forget to share the info that I am going to get to avoid radiation.

And I wanted to be sure that I posted that my second surgery has already been scheduled for Thursday, May 31st, at Vanderbilt. It is an outpatient procedure, so it will be a long day, but I will not need to spend the night in the hospital. Instead, we will be imposing on my sister-in-law who lives very close by and staying with them for a few days. I expect to spend those days blissfully unaware of everything as I did for the last surgery, so please don't expect to hear much from me for a few days afterwards. I DO appreciate the prayers being offered up on my behalf. And please keep my children and my family/caregivers in your prayers. I'm pretty darn useless these days so I'm sure they are ready for both arms to be in working order again soon.


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