It has been a good week so far and I am keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow, the streak will continue.
Monday, I met with my cancer surgeon to go over the pathology report. My cancer was staged at IIA and based on this, if I have to do infusion therapy (IV drug cocktail) that it will likely be the shorter of the two regimens. For patients like myself with a small tumor, clear lymph nodes, surgery and high estrogen/progesterone receptor positive cancer, I would have a 3 month series of chemotherapy resulting in 4 infusions (every three weeks). I will have to take some sort of hormone treatment regardless of the infusion therapy. My surgeon also suggested that I consider the Oncotype DX test and discuss it with my oncologist during my first visit tomorrow.
The test is important because research has shown that for early stage breast cancers like mine, only 4 in 100 women will benefit from infusion chemotherapy. That number blows my mind. The test is expensive, but chemo is more so, and the risk to the patient having that poison dripped into their bodies when the result would be the same, may not be worth it. For 30% of patients like me, it can change their course of treatment. The test will help my oncologist and I determine what treatment is best for me and will calculate the probability of my cancer returning in the next 10 years. For more information about this test, I’ve included the link to a short, but very informative video: http://www.genomichealth.com/en-US/Company/LabVideo.aspx
Today, I had another doctor’s appointment with my plastic surgeon who has cleared me to go back to work next week. Yeah!!! He also decided that the infection on my left side was cleared up and it was time to start the saline injections. This was a little scary for me at first and of course, I had to ask a lot of questions.
“What if you miss the port and puncture the expander?” That would be a big problem and to avoid that, the dr. uses a magnet to find the port under my skin that is a little bigger than a quarter. Through this, a long needle (at least 1 1/2″) is inserted through the port and 25 cc (2 tablespoons) of saline was placed in each tissue expander. While this did not hurt initially and I barely felt the needle stick, it began hurting on the drive home. It’s hard to believe that little amount of fluid would cause any pain and tightness but it does. Ice, ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer helped get me through the afternoon. Next week, they will begin weekly injections of 50 cc and so the reconstruction begins.