Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer, which has spread to bones, diagnosed early May 2018. I’ll add a lot more later.
There is lots more to talk about and share in this process and I do want to write about it all. And a lot of people want to first know what is going on medically.
So, here goes.
I have been diagnosed with Infiltrating/Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, grade 2 (grade isn’t stage). There is evidence from the biopsy of cancer cell movement into my lymphatic system. The mass is 14mm. And it is testing 99% positive for estrogen and 40% positive for progesterone receptors. Forgive me, but all I have to say there is no shit sherlock, and that will be another blog entry. It was also borderline HER2 and FISH negative. And we still await the results of the MRI, another interesting experience, another blog entry.
Treatment – my amazing Radiologist at Bay Radiology, Helen Mrose MD suggested that I work with surgeon Cynthia Drogula, MD at Balt. Washington Medical Center. She was described to me as a precise and elegant surgeon.
I am scheduled for Wide Excision – Lumpectomy on Monday July 18th, midday. Dr. Drogula will do a sentinal node biopsy during the surgery to determine infiltration into my lymphatics – which could mean the cancer has had the opportunity to spread.
Before the surgery, I need to tell her what I want her to do if there is a positive result to the sentinal node biopsy. The choice I am being offered is axillary resection – remove a bunch of lymph nodes under my arm or increased radiation treatment after the surgery.
At this point, I am pretty confident that my best choice is to retain my lymph nodes. There are significant risks for lymphedema in all of this and as a lymph drainage therapist, I am quite aware of the concerns. Also, as someone who needs her arms and upper body, the risks of the surgery are very high. This is the sort of thing that docs don’t much talk about.
What I do after that, in terms of radiation treatment (recommended) or chemo (not yet discussed) and holistic and alternative (Of Course!) is still undecided. If things turn out to be worse than it looks, I can always go back for another surgery, and make other choices. At this point a conservative surgical plan feels best.
Right now I am resting and relaxing and allowing all of this to sink in.
There are significant risks inherent to the surgery in terms of the movement of cancerous cells and the impact on my immune system. So I am meeting with my holistic support this coming week to further prepare my body for surgery. I am amping up my immune system, taking some natural supplements that are shown to make it harder for cancer cells to move and settle elsewhere as well as ones that have shown to shrink cancer cells. The surgery will be general anesthesia with local anesthesia, which has been show to be the most protective.
I am currently on Sabbatical. As soon as this information sunk in, I realized that I had to take the time to allow myself to have this experience, to learn, to feel and time was necessary. Not easy, and there are major challenges in doing this, and it is really the best choice for me right now.
Especially when the doctor’s office asked if I was going to take more than a week off for the surgery. Huh??? are you kidding? I am a massage therapist – the biopsy was still painful after 3 days. Back to work in 7 after a lumpectomy?
And really, time is such a gift. I am giving myself the gift of the time for this.