Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 10: This is what we know...

          If you are just stopping in, this is the tenth post in my 31 Day Series:  I Wear Pink.  Join me as I share my breast cancer journey.  You can find the previous posts here



Day 10:

          Pat drove me to my first appointment with the breast surgeon.  He awkwardly sat in the pink waiting area, reading his Kindle, and trying to blend in among the women.  He preferred to wait for me there.
          The staff was very friendly and patient.  A nurse took my history.  I also met with the doctor's assistant, Sarah.  Sarah is an amazing vivacious young woman.  Sarah examined me, reviewed my history, and answered my questions.  She assured me that I would get through this and listening to her positive attitude I began to have hope that I might.  Soon the surgeon herself came in and examined me.  She sat down and patiently went through everything.
          The surgeon told me, "This is what we know..."  Then she went on to explain.
          There is an infiltrating ductal carcinoma in the left breast.  This is the most common type of breast cancer.  The cancer began to grow in one of the milk ducts and has spread out of it, invading the nearby tissue.   It's location is about 4:00, if you picture a clock face.   It is pretty centrally located, not on the perimeter.
         Your radiologist made a good call.  The tumor is right up against the chest wall.  This tumor would not have been found by an exam.  You would not have felt it until it had grown much larger.  Your mammogram found the cancer early.  She pointed out a notation on the mammogram report.  Until now, I had been rated as having an 8% chance of getting breast cancer before the age of 90.  My risk factor was considered pretty low.  I marveled, maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. 
        Cancers are graded on a scale of 1-3.  Think of it as how "angry" it is.  A grade of 1, is least angry and less aggressive.  Three is the most angry and most aggressive.  According to the biopsy, your tumor has a grade of 2.  This is about what we would expect of a cancer that has moved out of the duct and into surrounding tissue.
       She patiently answered my many questions then laid the basics out for me.  They were:
  • Surgery:  Lumpectomy, Sentinel lymph node and/or axillary node dissection possible, and  radiation vs. mastectomy and reconstruction
  • Oncologist:  scans, blood work, possible chemotherapy, possible anti-estrogens
  • Radiation:  Standard is 6 weeks, Monday through Friday, or twice a day for 5 days also Monday through Friday 
          The doctor also ordered an additional test, a MRI to determine if there was an unsuspected cancer in the other breast and to see if underlying chest muscle was involved in the tumor we knew about.
          I was also presented with a notebook binder and advised to keep a copy of every report, test, scan, and blood work associated with my cancer journey.  This way I would have a copy of everything I needed should I move or change doctors.  I was empowered to take charge of myself.
          I left the office with a feeling of hope.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.  ~Psalm 20:6-7
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