I’m kind of dreading writing this cause it’s going to be long and boring. I’ll try to make it as concise as possible.
So, first and foremost, the doctor told me my cancer is a Stage I, approximately 8mm wide, and that currently we are looking at treatment for a cure – i.e., this is not life-threatening. It is invasive ductal, which is the type that approximately 75% of breast cancers are. It is high grade, which means it is fast-growing/spreading. He said I am very lucky I found that benign lump, as the two spots they identified because of it are not palpable, and in a year from now, we’d be looking at a very different situation.
From the scans they have so far, my lymph nodes appear clear, and the two spots in my right breast – right next to each other – that were identified appear to be the only abnormalities.
Now it’s just basically test, wait, make a plan, repeat. I had the blood test for BRCA today. The results for that may take up to three weeks to come back. They’re important, though, because as it stands right now, based on the limited information we have, the course of action would be lumpectomy to remove the spots, removal of several lymph nodes in the area of the spots, and then examination of the removed tissues. IF the lymph nodes are clear, which the doctor expects them to be, the next step would be radiation therapy, and possibly hormone therapy with tamoxifen. Hormone therapy is recommended if the tumors are ER+, which mine, based on the biopsy, are. Okay, digressing. IF the BRCA test comes back positive – which it could, although the percentage of women who have it is fairly low – the general recommendation is a double mastectomy. So we have to wait for those blood test results to form our treatment and surgery plan.
Now as I mentioned before, I am getting the MRI on October 6. The doctor actually immediately mentioned moving it forward, in spite of the MRI lab’s suggestion that it has to be done between days seven and 10 of my menstrual cycle. He said they tend to follow that recommendation because it’s when they get the clearest results, but he wasn’t sure if maybe we should do it sooner. He then went on to say that in actuality, it might not make any difference, since we have to wait till the BRCA results come back before we can do anything anyhow. In the end, he called the radiologist and asked for his recommendation. He said that the problem with doing it at another point in my cycle is that the results would be less accurate, and there was liable to be more shadows on the MRI that appeared to be something they weren’t, which could lead to more biopsies, etc., or could hide things that were there. He said in the end, the radiologist and he discussed what they would do if it was their wives, and they agreed they would want the most accurate results, but he left it up to me. I agreed with them. So October 6 it is.
Ai yi yi, okay, so where am I. Okay, so, once we have the gene results and MRI results, we can formulate an actual treatment plan. Again, back to based on what we know now, it appears that the treatment plan will be lumpectomy and lymph node removal (an outpatient procedure), followed a month later by 6 1/2 weeks of radiation. IF the lymph nodes come back positive for cancerous cells, then I will also have to have chemotherapy. In spite of all this scary stuff, it’s the tamoxifen that really scares me. I guess it’s a drug that prevents estrogen from entering the breasts. Side effects can be like menopause, I cannot get pregnant or nurse on it, and I have to take it for FIVE F**KING YEARS. This is the one part during the consult where I cried (to be fair, I’d taken two Xanax beforehand, so maybe I would have been bawling the entire time otherwise). I would very much like another baby, and I would ESPECIALLY very much like to breastfeed another baby. That said, I’m just going to try to roll with the punches here, cross the bridges as we come to them, and accept that God has a plan and it’s the right one.
I think that’s all the info I have now! This is such a super bummer because to be honest I NEVER liked the way my boobs looked and I thought having kids would only make it worse, but ever since I had them I actually like my boobs more. So I’m finally into them and now I guess they’re like, “Too little, too late, lady. This is what you get for years of shit talking.”
In conclusion, here’s a nice thought from my friend Annie and my fave actor Donal Logue. With Declan Murphy on my side, I can’t lose.
Also, Happy 71st Birthday, Dad! Thanks for the heads up, buddy.