A big thank you to all who have called, emailed, or texted me this week to say they are with me in spirit. I am most greatful. And most humbled by the support.
What a roller coaster this week has been! On Wednesday evening I got the results back from the breast MRI: Negative. 100% negative. Completely normal. No breast cancer evident in EITHER breast. Are you thinking: “WHAT???????? How can that be? There is a large 6cm mass that tested positive for cancer”. Yup. That was my reaction, too.
Basically what we have now is a set of conflicting data. There is a palpable mass in my left breast (trust me, it’s there). The Mammogram shows a 6cm (i.e., large) mass. Breast ultrasound shows (read carefully) a 5mm (i.e., teeny) mass. Biopsy of that 5mm mass contained ductal carcinoma in situ and infiltrating ductal carcinoma. Ultrasound of my lymph nodes is normal (so no evidence of metastasis). Breast MRI is normal (no cancer in either breast).
So we know I have breast cancer and we know I have a mass. What we don’t know is if that mass is mostly cancer or possibly a benign mass that had a small cancerous component that was removed during the biopsies (apparently this does happen). The radiologists who viewed my various test posit the possibility of something called an architectural distortion on the mammogram that accounted for the 6cm measurement of my mass. In other words, my mass may not be as large as originally thought. And it may not be cancer. I may have (had) a very small breast cancer.
So much unknown at this point. My friend, Natalie, a breast cancer survivor, calls this part of the breast cancer path the “discovery” stage.
My medical team had been proceeding with a treatment plan based on the assumption that my cancer was a large mass, and therefore likely a very aggressive cancer. That meant super strong, very toxic to my body, chemo to shrink the tumor, and show that the chosen chemo works against my specific cancer, then surgery, then radiation, then reconstruction. The “big gun” treatment.
The lack of cancer on my MRI has changed the treatment plan. It no longer is clear that I have a large, aggressive cancer. The new treatment plan is we should wait until we do know what I have before submiting me to an agressive chemo experience, especially if it might not be necessary.
Now surgery is step #1. Step #2 is to wait for the pathology and oncotyping on my mass. And then, based on the results of the pathology and the oncotyping, Step #3 is to treat with either no chemo (if no other cancer is found), or chemo if additional cancer is found (maybe a kinder, gentler one?), and, if needed, radiation (i.e., if the mass is mostly cancer and is large enough to warrant radiation). So, in this new treatment plan, it is possible that I might end up with a less toxic process. I am so hoping this is the case. But, if not, then I am back to where I was until Wednesday evening. Step #4 will be reconstruction.
The hope that my cancer might be less severe than originally thought is intoxicating. My survival rate jumps significantly. And the treatment process is less toxic to my body. So I am hopeful that the conflicting data resolves in favor of a smaller cancer.
As soon as I have my surgery date, I’ll post it here.
Send me all the positive energy you can. I need it.