Post-Op and Final Diagnosis

So, my lumpectomy was performed on November 21st (Monday) and I was scheduled to go back for a post-op check the following Wednesday, November 30th.  I was told that I might have my pathology results back in a couple of days but given it was the week of Thanksgiving, my expectations were pretty low.  We went about the business of celebrating Thanksgiving, and I sort of tried to forget about things. 

By Monday the 28th I still hadn't heard anything.  I contemplated whether to call them or not and decided since it was already Monday, I wouldn't likely hear back until Tuesday and my appointment was for Wednesday anyway, so why bother.  I go back and forth with wanting to know everything and still wanting to live in a place with limited information so if it's bad I won't have to deal with it. 

Dr. Kent and I
 The crucial information I was waiting for was; the actual size of my tumor, the actual type of cancer, whether they got clear margins (the cancer free area surrounding the tumor), and whether my lymph nodes showed any signs of cancer.  All of these things determine my actual staging and treatment options.  All of the tests that they had done prior to surgery gave them a very good idea what was going on, but until the actual tumor was dissected they wouldn't know for certain. 

So, I went in to my appointment on November 30th with no information and I was quite anxious.  When I walked in, Dr. Kent was on the phone with pathology-not happy because he still had not gotten results.  This was quite unusual and created a lot of anxiety for me.  This is why I love Dr. Kent though; he told me he was not happy with pathology and had checked for my results every day while he was on vacation.  I thought that was so great!  I'm sure he does that for every patient but it made me feel like he really cared.  He wasn't sure what was taking so long but could see that they had to send my samples out for "special smears".  I was concerned by this and he told me it could be because they were seeing signs of two different types of breast cancer and needed to confirm.  He said I was healing well and answered a bunch of questions trying to make me feel better.  We left the appointment still not knowing.  I was quite emotional after that, but went to work.  Thankfully my bosses were both so understanding and sweet. I was able to get myself somewhat together and Kimberly took me to see Breaking Dawn.  

Later that day I got the call from Dr. Kent and it was not what I expected.

I was told I have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (a more unusual kind of invasive breast cancer).  My tumor size was what they expected at 1.8cm, and my margins were clear (phew). of my lymph nodes was positive for cancer.  Crap!  Apparently I had a 3mm size cluster of cells in one of the four lymph nodes.  Another node showed some microscopic evidence of disease but not enough for them to consider it positive.  Thank goodness Dr. Kent had removed four nodes during surgery otherwise I would have had to go back and have what's called an Axillary Dissection (where they remove a bunch of nodes).  So that was good, but the whole lymph node positive thing was not.  Dr. Kent reassured me that my prognosis was still very good and I would do fine.  I was still a mess.

I called my oncologist and she told me that I was now a stage 2 and my chemo regimen would be increased from one treatment every three weeks for three months, to one treatment every two weeks for four months.  So basically I was diagnosed all over again with all new information.  The type of cancer I had was different, the nodes were positive, and my treatment was going to be more aggressive.  Not what I wanted to hear.  I spent the next several days processing this new information and trying to stay positive.  I knew I was still very fortunate and my prognosis was still great.  It just felt like a blow.  I was feeling very confident and now had to re-evaluate things and change my plan.

Next stop...Oncology and what comes next.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Libby, what a roller coaster you have been on. I will pray for calmness and peace for you. You have been thrown into a whole world that no one ever wants to experience... ( Lori Lee)