Preoperative fear fest

I went in for my preop today and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. I got two prescriptions – one for a painkiller and one for an anti-nausea patch. Very smart of them to give you the scrips ahead of time – I hate when they give you a pain scrip the day of and you have to enlist someone to go get your prescription for you.

There was definitely a daunting list of side effects and possible risks, which is why I was nervous today. I had to sign the paper and give it back to them, or I’d take a picture. Most of them the doctor feels won’t affect me, but of course any of them could.

The lump of tissue he’ll take out is approximately the size of a ping pong ball, and then he goes back in and shaves the sides of the excision just to try to ensure clear margins. So essentially I’ll be losing about a golf ball-sized lump of boob tissue. He says he has a strong concentration on cosmetic results and will have a team of plastic surgeons behind him in case there are any issues. Still, that’s a lot of boob! Little worried about that.

So in the briefest way, the overview is: under local anesthetic, they use a needle to insert a radioactive seed in the tumor with the aid of ultrasound; then they give me an injection of radioactive dye to identify the sentinel lymph nodes; then they give me general anesthetic and begin the procedure, which should take around an hour; he makes two incisions, one to remove the cancer cells and one to remove the lymph nodes, and uses a probe in both areas to identify the radioactive spots and remove them; then I go to post-op, and when I’m stable, go home. I need to rest the first day, then after that, moderate rest with no lifting anything over 5 pounds for a week.

They make it all sound so simple and my doctor literally walked into the room and congratulated me (!) because of all the positive test results we’ve gotten, so my hopes are high for a good outcome.

That’s all for now!

The Boob Report

If you’re hoping for a long, rambling blog (be honest, I know you are), I’m sorry, you’re out of luck.

Just talked to my breast surgeon and the MRI shows NO ADDITIONAL ABNORMALITIES in either breast! I should be able to get my lumpectomy scheduled today! Not sure when it will be, but soon.

I do plan to discuss options/alternatives to radiation and Tamoxifen when I meet with my team, but for now, full speed ahead to removal of the cancer!

Feels weird to be celebrating, “YAY I ONLY HAVE A LITTLE CANCER!” but you better believe I am! Thank you for all your kind words and thoughts!

Update on timeline

I talked to my doctor. He has no problem moving things forward, but here’s the catch.

I need to have an MRI before I can have the lumpectomy/axillary lymph node removal. The most accurate MRI results will not be till at least day 7 of my menstrual cycle, which is not until the second week of October. What does having an MRI before then mean? Potential false positives, i.e., areas of shading that appear to be cancer but are not. What happens if the MRI turns up (false) positives? Additional biopsies.

The biopsy SUUUUCKED and I do not enjoy the thought of having additional, possibly unnecessary biopsies. BUT I also do not enjoy the thought of chemotherapy, or twiddling my thumbs for another two weeks while I ponder the lesion growing in my boob.

With that said, MRI has been moved forward to 9/30, and results should be available 24 hours after the procedure. After that, doc says the lumpectomy/axillary lymph node removal (which from now on I’m calling ALNR because come on) can be scheduled fairly quickly.

So now, MRI in a little over a week. Fingers crossed for good (and in this case, “good” means “negative”) results so we can just go ahead and get this sh*t out of me without any further testing.

Out, out damn spots

So I emailed my doctor this morning, because I want the damned cancer out.

They KNOW I have two small spots of high-grade – that’s dangerous, fast growing – cancer in my right breast. Based on the tests they have done – mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy – they THINK there is no other cancer in my breasts and that the cancer has not yet spread to the lymph nodes. And finally, only 1 in 500 women tests positive for the BRCA gene, and since neither of my grandmothers, my mother, nor any of my aunts have had breast cancer, AND my 23andme results came back negative for the three BRCA mutations they test for, I feel fairly certain mine will come back negative as well. With all these things in mind, how much sense does it make to keep waiting? It’s fast growing but not in the lymph nodes yet – how long will it take to get there? What if it only takes a month? So then I have to do chemo because rather than act quickly we chose to bide our time and see what the stupid test results said? The only test result that truly matters already came back and it said HI YOU HAVE BREAST CANCER.

My doctor replied and said he’ll call me today to discuss options. We’re going out of town this weekend and I am hoping he presents me with the “You can have the lumpectomy on Monday after you return” option.

A rolling stone gathers no moss and all that. Will update when I know more.

Hurry up and wait

This is the new scarf I bought myself. It has skulls. I am not doing a good job of smizing here.

This is the new scarf I bought myself. It has skulls. I am not doing a good job of smizing here.

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.”

11998797_10156026170645137_8454280301390331500_nIn 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.