English: pink ribbon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mom and I drove to Dr. Kulick’s office. We walked in and went through the typical routine of a doctors appointment. She walked in and I wanted to give her a hug. She looked at the scar on my breast from the surgery and the scar on my arm from the port placement. She was very satisfied with how they were healing and how they looked. We talked about my results and she said how great it was. I asked her about the onco test simply because I was so thrilled about the thought of not getting chemotherapy. That’s when my step became a little heavier and my heart dropped a bit; when she said I won’t be taking the onco type test. She then went on to explain that since I am Her2 positive that I don’t qualify for the Onco test and am automatically a candidate for chemotherapy. The fact that I am Her2 positive definitely makes my breast cancer more serious although the tumor was small and there wasn’t even any cancer in my lymph nodes. Basically the fact that I am Her2 positive makes my risk of getting cancer anywhere in my body again 35% where as women who have breast cancer with Her2 negative have a 12% chance of getting cancer again. Thus, there is a chance that the cancer could have a micro metastasized somewhere else in my body that would not be picked up by any tests. The chemotherapy would most likely take care of any cancer that may have jumped my lymph nodes and set up shop somewhere else in my body. I am comforted in knowing that Dr. Kulick did a fabulous job on me–my scar is minimal, she was able to remove my lymph nodes from the same incision where she removed the tumor, thus having one less scar to heal. The port insertion continues to be more bothersome then I ever thought would be, but she was not concerned about that and said it was all very normal.
After the visit with Dr. Kulick my mom and I went upstairs to visit my Nurse Angel Karen. I wanted my mom to meet her. As always when I see her I am filled with such a sense of comfort. This was a good day and I am blessed with so many fabulous people in my life.
Lymph Nodes of the Upper Limb and Breast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I woke up anticipating the days news. I knew that a very important phone call was to happen today. The day I would find out if the cancer was contained in my breast or if it had spread into other areas of my body. Every hour of the day felt like three, every ring of my phone call made me jump….it was 5:00 and still no news. The nurse called me to tell me that Dr. Kulick was stuck in surgery and would be sure to call me when she was complete. What time could that be? The nurse did not know. The day seemed to drag by….I plodded through the day, picking my kids up, going to dinner, taking Gabriella to ballet, heading to Panera where Michael and I hang out when she is dancing.
Panera Bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There we were standing in line at Panera ready to place my order when my phone rang with that familiar number that ends in zero. I stopped mid-sentence and stepped out of line and ran to a corner and feverishly answered the call. On the other end was the familiar voice of the nurse. She told me that Dr. Kulick was still in surgery but if I’m ok with it that she could tell me the results. I anxiously told her yes I want to know!!! She then said “All of the cancer was removed, the margins were clear, and there was no cancer present in your lymph nodes“. I yelled yes out loud, made a fist pump in the air and my eyes filled with tears. She then told me that I would have an Onco type DX test to determine the need for chemotherapy. I might not need to do chemo? That would be amazing! I hung up the phone feeling the world lifted off my shoulders, a lightness to my step and a smile I couldn’t take off my face. I gave Michael a huge hug and tons of kisses on his face. No one at Panera seemed to notice or care–U of M college students are too into themselves…thankfully. In that moment I knew I was going to be alright! I would beat this!! This was manageable, defeatable and I would win this war! Michael and I stepped back into line to order some cookies and coffee to celebrate.
Armed with my blue bag (affectionately known as my cancer bag) filled with numerous file folders labeled oncology, insurance, family medical leave, research etc.. I walk into yet another doctors office. BUT, this office is different…I hear the sounds of melodic music and trickling water streams, today I am visiting an alternative medicine doctor. Since my diagnosis one of the biggest struggles has been the loss of control and feeling of helplessness. I know that no one can say what caused my cancer but I have my theories. I believe that the major amounts of stress that I have had to deal with in the last six years have been balled up into a 1.6 cm tumor in my breast. So here I am at a place to help me understand how I can better deal with that stress and what are other ideas that they may have.
I meet Dr. Neu and he asks me many questions. He wants to know if they are going to do chemo if my lymph nodes are negative and definitely questions it if they are. He believes the targeted therapy of herceptin is beneficial but not the chemo drugs. He goes onto say that if I choose to do chemotherapy that they can help complement with their own herbal medicines and then when my chemo is over detoxify me to rid my body of the toxic drugs that were put in me. He wants to order very specific blood tests that will determine different levels in my body. I walk away from that appointment feeling empowered. I don’t feel like a hapless victim but rather someone who is being proactive in searching out other methods. He has put questions in my head–and things to research. For example, the onco test? He thinks I should get it. I have never even heard of it. An onco test is a blood test that determines the necessity for chemo. It looks at many factors and then based on the score chemo will or will not be recommended. I am excited about this test and the types of information it can give me. Some control is coming back, if anything I can at least help my body feel better while going through chemo. If I even need chemo at all………….