Oncotype DX Results

Agh okay so I don’t feel like blogging this. I don’t know why, just not feeling it. So it will hopefully be pretty short and succinct.

My Oncotype DX results finally came back. My Recurrence Score Result is 22 (out of a possible 50) which puts me just above the low range in intermediate. Good news/bad news situation. Let’s do bad news first and get it out of the way.

They don’t know what to do with intermediate peeps. Low means chemo won’t have any effect on you; high means chemo has definitely decreased recurrence rates in the majority of patients in that group. Chemo on intermediate patients helps some and doesn’t help others. Researchers are still working on identifying what the factors are that cause the difference, but they don’t know yet. So being that I am intermediate, it is now our choice to do chemo or not – and it may or may not have any impact on whether or not I have a recurrence of cancer.

My cancer is/was high grade – it got a score of 8 out of a possible 9. (What can I say, even my cancer aims for the stars.) With that in mind, me getting a low intermediate result on the Oncotype test is really amazing! It could have easily come back high grade, which would have meant definitely chemo, definitely hormone treatment, and STILL a possible recurrence. So we’re in pretty good shape!

We met with a final doctor today, Dr. Ellis. She was GREAT and is also in Dr. Kaplan’s office. I think we’re going to stick with Dr. K – I really liked his manner. He was very easygoing and essentially gave the impression that all of this is a formality to me recovering 100%, which just really put me at ease. That said, Dr. Ellis was the first one to see my Oncotype results so she was the one who gave me her best ideas for my treatment. I called Dr. K afterwards and we chatted and he is basically of the same mind, although we have an appointment scheduled with him for next week to formulate a solid plan.

It looks like (and again this is just a rough guess right now) I may be able to avoid Tamoxifen (which my gut says I should do), IF I do 4 cycles of TC chemotherapy accompanied by Lupron to suppress my ovaries (and, according to Dr. K, help preserve my fertility). Plus of course the radiation. This would mean 3 months of chemotherapy – one administration of the drugs every three weeks for four times total. Typical side effects that you probably already know about, plus the added benefit of it possibly sending me into permanent menopause (although Dr. K thinks at my age I may make it through just fine).

I think that’s pretty much all the data I have right now. I am nervous and scared but also glad we can finally move forward with this. I am second guessing myself all the time and sometimes the overwhelming amount of information we have – and don’t have – makes me just want to say, “Screw all the treatments, I’ll take my chances.” But I have to do what I can to make sure this doesn’t take me down, for my family. I guess the most annoying part is they cut out a very small, very early lesion – along with a perfectly good lymph node! – so I feel like I am cancer free. So WHY do I have to do all this additional crap that’s going to make me feel, well, like crap? I feel good now, why do things that make me feel lousy?

Just things I have to deal with, I guess.

What I Like About Breast Cancer

Weird, I know. Maybe it’s because the sun is shining, or because I met with Dr. Kaplan last night and he completely changed my outlook on treatment. But I have actually been thinking about this awhile, and there are a couple things that are making this crappy circumstance – well, kind of nice.

First, the community. I have made a friend in Oslo because of this stupid disease. I have gotten inspirational notes of support from friends and family who have been through this. And I have connected and communicated with total strangers, whom I now think of as my BC sisters, through the internet. It’s a strange connection, brought about through loss and fear and all sorts of overwhelming emotions, but it’s a very strong one. When I read about what my sisters are going through, I feel their pain, their anxiety, and their anger. I rage with them and cry with them and try to brainstorm ways to buoy them up when they’re feeling down – and they do the same for me. We’re all in this together, and for the first time in any group I have been a part of, I can honestly say I feel no judgment whatsoever – just support, empathy, and love, love, love. What an amazing group of women, and I feel lucky – lucky! – that this disease has brought me to them, introduced us, and made us blood.

Second, the knowledge. I didn’t know anything about breast cancer. I am actually a little embarrassed and ashamed of how little I knew, now that I know so much. I am so grateful for this knowledge because knowledge is power, and it’s going to take power to beat this and hopefully, if I am lucky, help other women beat theirs.

Finally, of course, I am so happy this reconnected me with my Dad. I know it’s crazy and woo-woo, but it did. And I don’t know if that would have happened otherwise but it has now. And pretty much anytime I think of him I can feel him close by and he is not ever the angry Dad I faced so often growing up. We’re like old friends now, and sometimes he looks worried, but most of the time he is smiling.

So yeah, would I rather NOT have breast cancer? You betcha. But I do, and in spite of its best efforts, it’s not all bad.

Now if everyone can please just cross their fingers that my Oncotype DX test returns with a LOW recurrence score, that’d be great. I’ll update as soon as I have it!