Posted Aug 13, 2008 4:04pm
By the way, a lot of folks had the impression that I have been out of commission through this ordeal, so I want to let everyone know I am up and running! Well, strolling, at least. Other than taking off a few days for each surgery, I’ve been working full time, my energy is great and unless I told you my secret, you would never know anything was different.
This morning Dave & I went to my post-op visit with Dr. Guirguis and as usual, she went over everything with us in great detail. The good news is that nothing is new. Now that all the margins are clear (i.e. no more cancer cells floating around the site) she could confirm that this tumor is considered Stage 1 (on a scale of 0-4, that is more good news). The staging is based on is its small size (under 2cm), the fact that the sentinel lymph nodes were clear, and of all the tests done so far, nothing indicates metastasis (spreading to another area).
We are still waiting for the definitive test on the HER2nu, an antigen that is present on some breast cancers that indicates its tendency for recurrence. But the primary reason for testing this is to determine whether the use of herceptin (a drug that treats HER2 positive cancers) would be of value. The first test said it was negative, but her follow up test showed it was positive, so they are now running a more sensitive “FISH” (Fluorescent In Situ Hybridization) test to confirm the results.
The next step is to meet with the oncologist within the next few weeks to talk about the future “treatment options.” If the HER2 is positive, I’ll do 4 months of chemo every 2-3 weeks, a series of radiation treatments, then a year of herceptin, which I think is weekly. Although herceptin is considered “chemo” it does not have any of the hair-falling-out side effects of the other stuff, so everything starts resuming to normal growth at the end of the 4 months. At which point I would start radiation, so I really hope the Chinese Burn creme is as effective for me as it was for my friend.
At this point I’m just assuming I need chemo, and if I don’t it will be a wonderful surprise. A couple of friends really put the year ahead in perspective – one sent me a baby card and wrote, “At your age, things could be worse…” Another said that she threw up every day for 9 months when she was pregnant, so I need to remember that chemo is only 4 months – without 36 hours of labor or years of dirty diapers! And I get anti-nausea meds that really work.
I’ve been reading the carepages of other women going through cancer treatments, and it certainly is helpful to know what to expect. There are a lot of lousy side effects but they take them in stride, rest when the fatigue hits, ride the mood swings, grumble when it makes them feel better, reorganize their work schedule as needed, and stay busy. Then it’s over. They emerge from that jungle with a new dimension to their lives, and they can reassure the rest of us that we can do it, too.
Thanks again for all your notes and prayers – you are such an important part of healing.