Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Have Breast Cancer...What am I Going to do??

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2005 09:42 PM, CDT

Kevin and I out and having a good time. (2005 B.C. before cancer)

This journal entry will be LONG since it will contain everything that has happened up to this date. I am home in Michigan in-between surgeries, trying to relax. Since my doctor found a lump in my breast, I have found that hard to do. I'll get all of the medical stuff out of the way first.

I've had the initial lumpectomy about two weeks ago. (This was when we thought we were sure I didn't have cancer) After finding out that the tumor was malignant (cancer), I had an ultrasound, CAT scan, MRI, bone scan, chest x-ray, mammograms and a million blood tests. Pretty much every test invented. All the tests came up clear which mean that I do not have any significant masses of cancer anywhere else in my body. My specific type of cancer is invasive ductal carcinoma. I also have tested negative for the Her II protein (which means I cannot get that new miracle drug that has been in the news lately, Herceptin). I have tested positive for estrogen and progestin receptor (Estrogen makes my cancer grow); which means I can get hormonal therapy in addition to everything else. (This is good because it's another way to fight the cancer) The last test I have had was the genetic test for this mutation called BRCA1 or BRCA2. This will tell me if I am genetically predetermined to have a 50-85% chance of getting breast cancer and have a 40-60% chance of developing ovarian cancer. The results will not change how I treat this I won't get the results for a while.

I went to UofM to get a second opinion, but the real reason was that they are one of the top cancer hospitals in the country. They spent a day examining me and I had specialists look at all of my slides and tests. I'll just skip ahead to their determined treatment plan.

They said I could get by with a re-excisional lumpectomy (which means I get to keep my breasts. Yeah!!) Now, all of a sudden I have a whole new appreciation for my boobs. I have a couple tests to see if the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes. The first one was a couple days ago. A fine needle biopsy. Many needles in my armpit. Ouch. I took some Adivan to deal with it and ended up sleeping the rest of the day away. I can't say that was bad since I have been lacking sleep for weeks. If my lymph nodes do have cancer in them, I will have the lumpectomy and the lymph nodes removed at the same time. My surgery is scheduled for 11/11. (my first lumpectomy was 10/10 and I was officially diagnosed 10/13) The recovery for having my lymph nodes removed is three weeks. If they cannot tell if the lymph nodes have cancer, then I will have the lumpectomy as scheduled, but I will also have a couple lymph nodes removed and tested (this is called sentinel lymph node biopsy). The test takes two weeks to determine if I have cancer in the lymph nodes. If I do, I will have a third surgery to have them removed. Basically, I have to pass two tests to keep the lymph nodes in my arm. Hopefully I will, because there are some bad side effects and the surgery has a long recovery. I could be in Michigan for a long time.

Chemo: I WILL have to have it. The way they are suggesting I take it is every other week rather than every three weeks. This is more aggressive in fighting the cancer, but also harder on me because I have less time to recover and I get a larger dose. I think I will still have 8 treatments. The good thing about this is it will be over in four months rather then 6 months. I'm going wig shopping Friday. I'm not scared about getting Chemo anymore. I just want to get it over with. I'm getting the really strong stuff because I'm so young getting cancer at 25 and because my tumor was so big (plus the fact that I have invasive cancer which its main characteristic is to spread). Side effects: Nausea, hair loss, love blood counts in your white and red blood cells, decreased appetite, fatigue, loss of taste, just feeling like crap etc, etc... I promise to try to be as pleasant as possible.

Radiation: I will have to go through radiation to locally treat the cancer especially since I am getting a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy. This will be every day M-F for 6 weeks. Side effects are fatigue and sunburn. They say this should be nothing after Chemo except I'll be tired all the time.

Hormonal Therapy: I will begin hormonal therapy after radiation. Just pills I need to take that make me have menopausal side effects. I will be on it for 5 years. I really don’t care about that too much, but it upsets me for a couple reasons. It makes me think this will never go away. I will be treating my cancer until 2010 and I will not be able to think about having a baby of my own until I am 31. I haven't even thought about that before, but you're forced to think about about your future and if you want to ever have kids when you have cancer.

Overall, I am very excited about the results of the visit. Somehow, the night before the visit, I knew I was going to be fine. No matter what I had to go through, I was going to make it and be just fine. One thing I made sure to do was to not even look at any survival rates. Survival is a given. My goal is to come out of this stronger than before my diagnosis. I'm keeping my head way up. Like I said before, this cancer doesn't stand a chance with me.


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