Ever since I was first diagnosed with Breast Cancer in August 2006, there has been a delicate balance that exists between the health news of my husband Ryan, my best friend Tricia and myself. It has literally always been within a week's time that if one of us gets good news, we all brace ourselves for one of the remaining two to get bad news.
Ryan's brain tumour started to rear its ugly head again in September 2007 and he started a mild form of daily chemotherapy shortly afterwards. In December he had a follow up MRI and it showed no new growth. Of course we were thrilled by this news, but also worried of what was to come.
In November, I found a small lump near where my first invasive cancer tumour was originally. I told my oncologist about it and we thought that it was most likely surgical (3 surgeries in the past year can leave a lot of scar tissue). But, we went ahead with an ultrasound anyhow. Once they took a peek at it, they were concerned and wanted to biopsy it to check into things further. But, when I went for this procedure, they were unable to do a typical biopsy because they were worried of rupturing my implant. So, they took out a bit of tissue through a small needle, but the results were inconclusive.
My oncologist was still certain that it was surgical, so he scheduled me for another ultrasound on January 7th to check for any changes. On December 20th, I had a follow up appointment with my plastic surgeon and I decided to ask him, since he was the last surgeon in there. He wasn’t sure if it was surgical or not, so he wanted to find out for sure. He removed this lump the following day in minor surgery and sent it off to be reviewed.
Most of you remember that I had a bilateral mastectomy in May and was told that I had clear margins, so how can there even be a suspicious lump? Well, they told me that doing this surgery would reduce my future recurrence risk by 95%, but if there was any recurrence, it would be above my implant and right below the skin because they had to leave some skin.
I went in on Thursday morning to get the pathology results and was absolutely stunned to hear that it was Invasive Cancer, high grade and no clear margins. Not good. That means that I was relapsing, that the cancer was growing very aggressively only 6 months after my last surgery and while I’m still doing treatments and there was still more in me. In addition, invasive means that it can spread elsewhere in my body, so there were lots of risks to get my head around.
I went to see my oncologist on Thursday afternoon to discuss next steps. The first priority is to determine what we’re dealing with. We are all hopeful that it is still contained in my breast area, but because it is invasive there is a risk that it is not. So, the next week is filled with many diagnostic tests to give us this answer. Then they are also re-running the pathology to determine if it is the same cancer as before or whether this breast cancer has different characteristics. As long as it’s still contained, then I will have another surgery as the first step and they have already tentatively got me a date. Following this, I will do radiation. If this is unsuccessful, then I will be back through another session with Chemo, but with different drugs this time.
So, I have another big challenge in my way and the next 2 weeks will be really important to tell us what we’re dealing with. Once I have a plan in place to deal with it, I’m sure I’ll be feeling a whole lot better about things.