So much of Cancerland seems to be in a foreign language where you need a PhD to navigate through it. Pathology reports are the best example of this.
I got results back on Wednesday and I have just been sitting with them, processing them, and trying to decipher them.
Overall, my doctors are pleased. The results came back not necessarily bad, but certainly not great. I had a good response to chemo, but I couldn’t get all I needed. So because of that all 3 of my tumors came back positive, although they were significantly smaller. The best news of the path report is my surgeon was able to get good margins! This means no cancer cells are seen at the outer edge of the tissue that was removed.
My lymph nodes are the nasty part. They are the crazy SOB’s that have all along made me advanced Stage (III c) and caused all the worry. When the cancer spreads outside it’s original tumor and spreads to the lymph nodes they are now in the bodies “highway” to go hog wild on a joy ride. My surgeon removed 25 lymph nodes. 25!!! Again, here is where I go overachieving. Most people in the axillary (armpit) have 15, I had 22. One of these came back positive. She removed 3 nodes from my infraclavicular (under the clavicle) and two of these came back positive. My nodes also had “external extension” meaning they spread outside the node. See….show offs! This is a gut punch. These infraclavicular nodes have been the lump in my throat worry this entire time. They make me high risk for reoccurrence and my case trickier than most.
So what does all this mean: It doesn’t really change much. It stresses the importance of radiation and for me to get that started as quickly as possible, and hormone therapy. Since my cancer grows off of hormones we have to send signals/shut down those from my body. I will be taking Tamoxifen (a pill) for 10 years to keep those hormones in check. Hello hot flashes! I was re-staged to Stage II, which is the first time in my life I’m escatatic to be getting lower at something!
Radiation is what I go to next. I have to be able to hold my arm above my head for 30 minutes for them to do the mapping. Post surgical instructions are that I can’t lift my arm above shoulder height for two weeks, so I hope to be able to do mapping by week 3 or 4 at the latest. I will keep you posted on where we decide to do radiation. We had decided to stay here and not got to Houston, but that may be back on the table. I will need 33 daily (M-F) treatments, so 6.5 weeks. Holy sunburn!
I am continuing to recover amazingly from surgery. My docs are very pleased with my wounds and healing. I am looking forward more than anything to having my (4) drains removed on Wednesday and being able to take a long hot shower. I am like a Mama duck with all these babies. I haven’t taken anything at all for pain since Wednesday and every day I wake up a little less sore. Sleeping is hard, so I spend the night rotating from my bed to my borrowed zero gravity power recliner and I have been enjoying cat naps during the day while the kiddos are at school. Overall, it’s all been so much better than I ever could have imagined.
Garrett and I are planning on a F U cancer and 10 year wedding anni trip in October to Greece. It’s been a fun distraction to dream of, plan for, shop for my new gravity defying boobies, and light at the end of this dark ass tunnel.
So much love has been poured in to me the last week and I am so grateful. All the smiling faces that have stopped by and the sweet gifts and treats that have arrived have made me so happy. A super special thank you to my Mama, Miss. Angie. This woman is incredible. All the time, but especially now. She truly missed her calling as a nurse and has been taking unbelievable care of me and my entire family. Thank you so much Mom, you are the true definition of a selfless eternal nurturer. I love you!