Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Big Update

I'm having a hard time writing this update. So I am just going to paste in the email I sent to a few friends last night. I'm feeling different today, but I can't talk about it just yet. So this will have to do for now. Happy snow day. Xoxo

Hi all--

I'll cut to the chase: I start chemo next week. I feel... Okay. Alternating between fine and angry. Did some angry sewing earlier (a baby quilt--hope it doesn't pass on to the baby!). Drank some wine. Ate some chocolate. It helps a little.

The cancer is stage 1 (0-4 scale; my type starts at 1 because it is considered invasive so stage 1 is the best I could hope for), so I am starting with a great prognosis. They now do personalized testing to determine risk of recurrence and responsiveness to additional treatment. This is the testing I've been waiting on since surgery.

I scored 25 on the oncotype test (read more here: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/oncotype_dx), which is right in the middle of the "intermediate" (ambiguous) range. So I have a 16% chance of cancer recurring (elsewhere) if I do tamoxifen (standard, hormonal therapy for my kind of cancer) alone, or I can add chemo and reduce the risk to maybe 10-11%. In other words, if i just do tamoxifen, there's an 84% chance I will be cancer free in 10 years. If I add chemo, 90% chance I'll be cancer free. It doesn't sound like much of a difference, but it is much easier to treat and "cure" it now than to wait and treat a cancer that may develop. Because once it is elsewhere... You know the rest. (And while it wasn't in my lymph nodes, there's no guarantee they just didn't see a cell...)

As Husband quipped, it's like going from a B to an A-. Which was both funny and helpful because I am definitely the person who would go for the A- over a B! Heck, let's try for the A.

Anyway, the doctor offered us time to consider, another mtg to discuss, but I said let's just do it. Get it done! I asked if he would encourage his daughter to do it and he said, I think sincerely, yes. So I had blood drawn today and next week I'll have a port put in and then next Thursday I start. Assuming my plastic surgeon clears me (but we assume so because I am 4weeks post surgery this Wednesday).

We met the social worker. She gave us books for the boys which we probably won't use; "mommy has cancer" is not a sentence I want to say out loud. Mommy needs medicine and will have a bald head, fine. But I want to laugh about how funny that is. I am not dying, I don't feel sick. And they are LITTLE! Too little. So we are going to normalize it as much as possible. 

We saw the infusion room which is a big room with chairs around the perimeter. The infusions take @3-4 hours! The doctor said how I react to the first one will likely be how I react to future infusions. So that's good to know. 

I will have 4 infusions -- the least they do. There is roughly three weeks in between each one so it'll be about 12 weeks until I'm done. 

I don't know when I'll lose my hair. A few weeks in, I assume. I get a prescription for a good wig. Bald for my 40th! 

After chemo I will start the tamoxifen and take it until my ovaries and tubes come out. (Most women take it 5-10 years but I won't need it if I have no ovaries producing hormones.)

Thanks for all of your calls, visits, letters, emails, food, carpooling, babysitting, etc. I am so grateful. Thanks, as well, for treating me like a normal person. I won't make it through this if we can't laugh, if we can't have fun. My family won't make it through if we don't laugh and have fun! I don't want to cry over my lost hair (although I probably will). I do want to yell about it, and then I want to laugh about it. So you better be ready to crack some jokes and try on some wigs with me!

Love, c

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