Thursday, April 16, 2015

Emory for the Win

My news about today's appointment is too good to wait until tomorrow. First, I'm HER2- (no chemo before treatment!) Second, I loved Winship Cancer Institute and Dr. Styblo. She was kind and very knowledgeable. She has a sense of urgency about my treatment. 

She is suggesting a combined sentinel lymph node biopsy and lumpectomy (which will in turn require some plastic surgery to both breasts during this same operation). Surgery will either be April 29 or May 6. What little dignity I have left requires I keep the rest of the surgical details private. 

After surgery, the lymph nodes and tumor will be sent to California for Oncotype DX testing. This will predict the benefit of chemotherapy and the likelihood of cancer recurrence over a 10 year period. (Since I have invasive ductal carcinoma, it could be in my lymph nodes or in my blood stream. The chemotherapy could help kill any cancer that's spread. This test will help us decide how beneficial the chemotherapy would be.) Radiation is also still an option. The test results will help determine that, too. We didn't discuss how long of a course of radiation I would need.

One definite part of my treatment plan is Tamoxifen, a hormone blocker, since I am estrogen and progesterone receptor positive. I'll have to take this medicine for 5-10 years. It could make me go into early menopause. Que Sera Sera.

Here's the factor that could change some of the above treatment plan:

My MRI yesterday revealed another area of concern in the left breast. By the way, the right one is perfectly fine. (That one was always my favorite any way... Just kidding.) So I need to have another breast MRI. This time it will include a needle biopsy DURING the MRI. (And I didn't think yesterday's MRI could have been worse.) This time I'll be given Ativan to help me get through the procedure. The doctor says the area of concern will likely turn out to be nothing. However, if it is something, it could complicate matters and possibly put the idea of a mastectomy back on the table. 

For tonight, let's celebrate the good news and not entertain the idea of bad news. I can't believe how tired I am. The cards and gifts keep pouring in. They bring such a smile to my face. Today my neighbor cut the grass and another friend bought us a Peach Pass to use on the Interstate. What a blessing! Amazing love.

With a cheer and a fist bump,

Emily

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