Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wrong number!! (AKA What the ?!?!?.....continued)

I was at home when I got the call and ended up going with the hubs to take the kids to preschool. I think we were both just in shock. 48 hours later, I was SERIOUSLY waiting for the call that said they had the wrong girl. It just couldn't be ME. You hear about it. You feel sorry for people who have it. You wonder how they get through it. But you don't think that it will be you.

I started walking almost 3 years ago in our neighborhood and met a wonderful woman who was fighting breast cancer and I don't think I even considered that I might one day be fighting a similar beast. Her beast is much worse. It is angrier. Deadlier. Just plain evil. She has inflammatory breast cancer and it is truly what I feared when they said the results showed cancer present. I spoke to the doctor from the radiology office not long after my doctor had called and asked him point blank if it was inflammatory breast cancer because I knew that I didn't want IT. I don't want cancer at all, but I was full of fear thinking of this particular version.

What I did learn was that I have invasive mammary carcinoma. Typically with invasive breast cancers, you get either ductal or lobular, but for some reason I got the combo package (the link above takes you to the Johns Hopkins definition). Either way, it says invasive and that means that the cancer has spread from the original layer of cells and it has moved into the nearby fatty breast tissue (yup, I've got some of that). And yes, I've been doing A LOT of reading.

We had an initial appointment with Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center where they did a general overview of my current physical condition and then sent me to get an MRI of my breasts. Now THAT was an experience. I tried to avoid noticing the giant tube where I would soon be rolled, feet first. Once the IV was ready, I got started. The ear plugs and head phones were helpful and I was able to keep myself from dwelling on my current location. There was a moment or two when I would begin to recognize that I was in a very confined place but I kept my eyes shut and just talked myself out of the panic. The news from the doctor afterwards was good as there were no surprises lurking in either breast, beyond the original lump that had already been biopsied. [Note: I intend to name said "original lump" but I just haven't come up with anything yet. Feel free to make suggestions.]

While I was busy in the giant machine that felt like a cocoon (or worse, a coffin), the hubs and the sister were at work scheduling appointments to take over my Thursday. I was scheduled for a chest and abdomen CT scan and also a bone scan. I'll just skip to the good part and say that I survived drinking the two 450mL containers of citrus-flavored Barium Sulfate goodness and was happy that I stayed fully-clothed while getting all of the scans. Later that afternoon, I accidentally hit "ignore" when trying to answer my phone. It, of course, was the doctor's office just calling to give me the results of those tests. I hit redial and it went to their answering service. But the good news was that the nurse DID leave me a voicemail and all of the scans were clean! Praise God!

I'm thinking it is time to take another breather, get some sleep and tackle the last appointment (to date) in another post. People, I am working on finding some comic relief here, but I'm just not coming up with anything yet. And when I think of some little funny, I do actually try to maintain the filter between my head and my fingers on the keyboard because I don't want to offend anyone. I have a feeling that these concerns just might not be an issue for me later, but for now, I'm trying to watch what I get the idea.

I was directed to this verse by a friend who posted on my FB wall and I wanted to share it here:
"In 2 Corinthians chapter 12 it says "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness"
Ok God, I am DEFINITELY feeling weak now. I. Am. There. Just sayin'.....................

"Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong. Yes. Jesus loves me. Yes. Jesus loves me."


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Here is what we know from the biopsy pathology results:

Invasive mammary carcinoma (ductal)
Estrogen receptor positive
Progesterone receptor positive
HER2 positive
Grade 2 (of 3)
Ki67 25% ( dr would prefer 10%)

What does all of this mean? Honestly, I barely know myself. We have been told that surgery is needed. I expect that I will elect to go with a partial mastectomy/lumpectomy since the doctor doesn't feel that having a modified radical mastectomy would make a difference. Because of the HER2 positive status, it will be necessary for them to use Herceptin for a total of 12 months. As I understand it, this is a weekly dose given through a port that will be placed in my chest surgically. Chemotherapy is also necessary and will take place for about 6 months. Most likely it will be a treatment every two or three weeks for about 5-6 hours and will also be given through this port. Once the chemo treatment is complete, they would like to also use radiation in order to be sure that the cancer cells are GONE and will not return. There are two possible options for radiation, although I am actually a little too young for the targeted version. We are hoping that the doctor can get approval for the more targeted treatment despite my age, but we will have to wait and see.

There are still a few things that will have to be decided once we get the pathology results once the surgery is done and they have removed the tumor. They will need to determine the actual size of the tumor and also be sure that they are able to get clear margins. They will also be removing a few of the lymph nodes to be sure that it hasn't metasticized.

I am just trying to get the technical information on here before I forget. I hope to have more personality inserted at some point but today I am feeling defeated and not so full of personality. Just you wait because I think I can get a little snarky, sometimes a little funny and potentially even obnoxious. We shall see what happens.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

What the ?!?!?!?!

Cancer. C.A.N.C.E.R. Can you say "Not me?!?!" Yup. That is just what I was thinking when I heard my Gyn tell me that the pathology reports on the recent biopsy taken from a lump I've been living with since late last summer indicated that there was cancer present. Nope. I wasn't really in denial all this time. I actually went to a certain radiology office for a mammogram and ultrasound and managed to fool them (?) into thinking it was nothing. OK, I didn't really fool them, but they certainly didn't do their job by catching this 6 months ago.

Instead, I returned on March 6 for my 6 month check and ultrasound. Ironically, I found out later, that they didn't necessarily have me coming back because of the lump I found, but a different one that they discovered. Once again, I had the ultrasound. This time, the tech asked me about the area of concern and I showed her. The radiologist came in to feel it and said I would be getting an ultrasound-assisted core biopsy. She said that even it it wasn't cancer, I would be meeting with a surgeon in order to get it removed since it was constantly causing me some sort of pain. At the very least, it was definitely a target where my kids would always hit me, unknowingly, of course.

The biopsy was on March 12th and I was told I would get results in about two days. My dr. called me before 9a on the 14th to give me the news. She was very reassuring that this was not going to kill me. I would be raising my children and we would get this taken care of. All the while, I was thinking, "What did she just say?!?!"