23. Just when I thought the "hard" part was over...
A week ago today I was on the treadmill at the gym, working out in the limited way I am allowed, when Dr C. called with the pathology results.
I accidentally hit the wrong button and sent her to voicemail. (My phone gets terrible service at the gym so the message didn’t pop up until I was on the way home.) Because UCLA’s system is pretty badass, I also received an email telling me my results had gone to my health home page.
Considering how good I’d been feeling, and the great team I have, I’d been incredibly optimistic about the results. So Collin and I sat and listened to the message. She stated things I pretty much knew from looking at the email…
The left breast tissue was completely clean.
The tumor in the right breast was 4.2 cm and the tissue samples around it tested negative.
3 lymph nodes were removed 2 sentinel and 1 regular.
One sentinel node tested positive for metastatic cancer.
The second sentinel node tested positive for 30 individual cancer cells. (Yes they’re that good!)
The final lymph node tested negative for cancer.
The end got a little confusing . It seemed I was going to have to see both radiation and chemical oncologists for consults about future treatment. I could feel the lump growing in my throat and as my eyes filled with tears.
I WAS GOING TO HAVE RADIATION?!
I know that must sound weird, but since this all began I recognized that it was possible I would have chemo. I worked out the eventualities and the potential of having a reason finally to shave my head, never having the balls to do it on my own. But I was not totally familiar with radiation nor the result it would have on the construction project going in on my chest. Collin looked at me calmly and said “ let’s listen again.”
We did, and it seemed that Dr C had just gotten the results and was deciphering them as she read. When listening to the “radiation” part again, she said I would, and then stopped, and corrected herself. So maybe I wasn’t? The one thing I could be pretty certain of is that Chemo was on the table. I called and made my appointment so that we could go over everything in person : TODAY.
As we entered, I was greeted by a number of familiar faces which I have to tell you makes a girl A LOT calmer. (Dr. C’s shares an office with Dr H. my thyroid surgeon and thus far I’ve had pretty good juju here). The Physicians assistant who remembered us from before brought us back to the exam room.
Within minutes Dr C. came in.
“ You look too good to have cancer,“ she smiled.
“Thanks, other than my chest hurting, and my mobility in my right arm being a little stiff, I feel great. “ I say as I start flailing my arms about in demonstration.
“Well I’m a fitness instructor so I started with really good range of motion.”
“That’s right, we were talking during surgery about how you had no fat in your chest. Most people have a big layer between the skin and breast tissue.”
I guess that’s a win?
She continued on, explaining the results as I had heard them. We got to the portion regarding radiation, and my heart dropped. “Because the lymph nodes were affected you’ll be seeing a radiation oncologist. You’ll most likely doing radiation and chemotherapy. When you’ve finished with it I’ll see you for a followup in approximately seven months.”
So here we were.
We’ve cut out the bad cells. Now time to firebomb in case anything else stuck around.
One step done, but a whole lot of road to travel…