My Diagnosis Info
I thought I would put this stuff in its own section and run down my exact diagnosis and treatments. Whenever I have come across someone else’s blog or story, I am always curious to know what their pathology was and what treatments they received.
A little backstory about how my cancer was discovered. I actually remember the date that I felt the lump: Friday, May 6th, 2011. I had taken the day off from work to be with my husband, who was also off that day. It was a lazy, fun day of just hanging out together. That evening, we were chilling out in bed watching TV and I happened to brush my hand across my chest. That’s when I felt it: the lump. I used to be a hypochondriac as a kid and still have some left over paranoia about health stuff from time to time. I freaked out. I Googled the hell out of breast lumps, trying to figure out what it could be. I didn’t want it to be cancer. I read all the typical stats: 80% of tumors are benign, fibroadenomas feel smooth (mine felt smooth), cancer doesn’t hurt (my lump was tender). After being upset for awhile, I convinced myself that I was just being a hypochondriac again and this was nothing. I thought it was a fibroadenoma.
I had an annual exam already scheduled for June 14th and I was going to wait around until then and if it was still there, pursue it with my PCP. I felt a little better about it. But on Tuesday, May 10th, I stepped out of the shower and looked in the mirror. The area where the tumor was just kind of stood out to me. There was nothing on the skin, no redness or dimpling or anything, but I felt like I could see something there. I decided to just call the doctor’s office and get it looked at now so that I could put my mind at ease. They got me in that day but my PCP was busy, so I saw another doctor in her group. I was fine with that, I just needed someone to check it and tell me it was nothing or give me some direction.
He felt the lump and said it felt like a cyst, consistent with hormonal changes. A little blip in my mind told me it wasn’t period-related, since I wasn’t due for my period for another two weeks, and my breasts did not change with my cycle. But I tucked that thought away. Then he said something really important: “Let’s schedule an ultrasound just to be safe.” He said an US would be scheduled for after my next period. His parting words to me were, “I really don’t think this is anything to be concerned about.”
So I wasn’t.
My grandmother on my father’s side had breast cancer at the age of 45. But no one ever told me to be extra vigilant or get screened early for breast cancer. I thought it was just on the mother’s side that you had to worry. And it had to be a mother, sister, or aunt. Again, I kept building my little mental arsenal of things that were in my favor: I’m only 31, no maternal breast cancer history, the doctor said it was most likely a cyst, etc.
A couple weeks went by and the lump was still there and it hadn’t changed but I was no longer really worried about it. I got my US appointment in the mail: June 2nd. For some weird reason, I asked my husband to tag along. I still didn’t think this would be a big deal at all but, boy, am I glad that he was there with me.
When I think back to the afternoon that I went to the Radiology Center, I kind of cringe. I was basically almost skipping in through the door, cracking jokes with my husband, and just dealing with the minor inconvenience of having to get this done and then be told it was a cyst and be sent on my merry way. The tech took a bunch of pictures and then the radiologist came in and took some more. She moved the US wand toward my armpit. “She’s looking at my lymph nodes” I thought as I was laying there. That couldn’t be a good sign.
She told us that she wanted to schedule a biopsy and after questions from my husband and I, she basically laid it on the line right there. “I don’t think this is benign; I’m so sorry.” I kept laying there, tears streaming down my cheeks. My mind kept screaming at me to get the hell out of there. I just wanted to get dressed and call my Mom. That’s all I could think about.
The radiologist, who was so nice, cleared her schedule so she could perform the core needly biopsy on me the next day, June 3rd. My husband and I walked into the room to get the biopsy done and she said to me, “I thought about you all night.” She was really so, so nice. But that’s definitely not what you want to hear. If a doctor is worrying about it, that is not a good thing.
I got the results over the phone on Monday, June 6th. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Bone scan and CAT scan during the week of 6/20/2011 did not show metastasis. After my bilateral mastectomy, I was staged at IIb, 4cm single focus tumor. The tumor was ER+ & PR+ at 90% for both. FISH test determined that I was NER2 negative. Although when I went into surgery, it was thought that I probably didn’t have any positive nodes (US and MRI did not show any node enlargement). Unfortunately, the surgical path indicated two positive lymph nodes out of the 5 that were taken. One was a micromet and the other was a macromet. One of them had extracapsular extension, which means the cancer was getting ready to break out of the node (if it hadn’t already). My tumor also had angiolymphatic invasion, which basically means the tumor had blood vessels, so it was getting the nutrients it needed to sustain itself. This is all bad.
My treatment regime is as follows:
6/27/2011: Double Mastectomy with tissue expanders
7/21/2011: Mediport placement for upcoming chemo
8/4/2011: Chemo starts. 4 rounds of dose dense AC and 4 rounds of dose dense Taxol. Last chemo on
December 6, 2011-January 17, 2012: 28 round of radiation
February 21, 2011: Tamoxifen pill for 5 years (boo)
July 2011: Exchange surgery for silicone implants