There's a lot happening over here in cancer land, and Monday is going to be a big day*. I've been thinking about everything that has happened over the last couple of months and thought I'd lay out the timeline. So let's recap, shall we?
4/12/83 -- The world loses a beautiful, witty, loving soul, mother, daughter and friend. My first mother, Christine Elaine, succumbs to breast cancer at 37 years young.
December 2013 -- I finally ask for and receive a referral for a mammogram. I am 38.
October 2014 -- I have my first mammogram at the GW Breast Center. It is quick and easy!
November 2014 -- I return for follow up imaging, spend four hours at the Center, and learn I have a lump that needs to be biopsied.
December 9, 2014 -- I have a needle core biopsy. The radiologist expresses concern and offers that she will rush the results.
December 12, 2014 -- Husband and I return to the Center and hear for the first time that I have invasive ductal carcinoma in the right breast. The tumor is tiny but must be removed either through lumpectomy or mastectomy before it spreads. We name it Cruella De Vil.
December 15, 2014 -- MRI confirms the tumor, does not show lymph node involvement, and finds a second, small, ambiguous growth to be biopsied if not removed via mastectomy. I plan for genetic testing to help me decide lumpectomy or mastectomy.
(Holidays, merry, merry)
January 2, 2015 -- Genetic test results confirm I carry the BRCA2 gene mutation associated with a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancers. I learn I will have to have my ovaries and tubes removed, in addition to removing/treating the breast cancer. I am relieved and decide on a double mastectomy.
January 21, 2015 -- I have the double mastectomy surgery; no implants but the plastic surgeon saved my nipples. My lymph nodes are clear -- the cancer is stage 1, hooray! I feel sore, nauseous, overwhelmed, and optimistic. The Village kicks into high gear with visits, flowers, food, gifts, and lots of love and support.
(recovery, recovery, recovery)
February 5, 2015 -- We meet with a high-risk oncologist about my BRCA2 status; she says "a short course -- 12 weeks -- of chemotherapy" is a distinct possibility because of my "young" age. I am completely confused by her description of how the oncotype test works. 12 weeks of chemo sounds like an eternity. Treating cancer when my breasts are gone and lymph nodes are clear seems excessive, but I agree to reserve judgement until we know what we are talking about.
February 7, 2015 -- Percocet withdrawal knocks me on my butt. I cave and re-dose, vow to follow the doctor's slow withdrawal plan.
NEW: February 12, 2015 -- The second/final drain is removed and breast expansion begins! I haven't showered in 3 1/2 weeks; I plan an epic shower for Saturday, 2/14.
NEW: February 13, 2015 -- The oncotype results are finally in! The patient navigator can only tell me I am "kind of in the middle" and will need to discuss with the oncologist. Chemotherapy seems even more likely. I again try and fail at Percocet withdrawal; slow down even more.
Now that we're current, here's a look at what's next.
*February 16, 2015 -- Husband and I are going in for our first meeting with the oncologist who will treat me (as opposed to the high-risk oncologist who helps me evaluate my overall cancer risk and planing vein my BRCA2 carrier status). We will receive the actual oncotype test result, discuss what it means and what my treatment options are.
February 17, 2015 -- My first day back to the office in a month!
There is still a lot TBD for 2015.
Under Construction -- my new boobs!
TBD -- The actual treatment plan and implementation.
TBD -- The oopherectomy to remove my ovaries and tubes.
But one thing is certain: I am kicking Cruella's asssss and we're going to celebrate the heck out of it in April.