Hello from Houston! We flew in yesterday afternoon, just in time to see the radiation oncologist, Dr. Stauder. He didn’t tell us much about the pathology report – that is Dr. Gainer’s job.
So, Dr. Stauder basically told us that the general rule is if the tumor is greater than 5 cm, the chances of recurrence are higher. Given my age, we want to do as much as we can to reduce those chances. Radiation takes the percentage of recurrence and cuts it by two-thirds. That is pretty significant.
Radiation will happen after chemo. It will be 30 minutes a day, Monday-Friday for 5-6 weeks. Reconstruction will take place about six months after I heal from the radiation.
So, that is how we ended our day. I’ve gotten through the initial shock of it. Cried, and have adjusted to the idea. It sucks, but how awful would it be to not do it and have it come back?
Next up, Dr. Gainer. She was as sweet as usual. I’m telling you this…if you have bad news to be delivered to you, I don’t think there is anyone better to deliver it. Her bedside manner is pretty amazing. And, that is good because she definitely had bad news to deliver.
Turns out, my tumor is 90-percent lobular. What does that mean? Well, as Dr. Gainer put it, lobular cancer is a “little tricky.” It is harder to see when doing imaging and even biopsies. Instead of creating a big mass, it tends to spread in a spiderweb fashion. That is why we didn’t know it was as big as it was.
The tumor had lymphovascular invasion, which means it invaded vessels in the lymphatic system. That makes it more likely to have spread to other lymph nodes.
When they did the preliminary testing of the five lymph nodes during surgery, they slice them in half and do a quick test. However, if you remember, lobular cancer does not grow in a mass. Instead, it tends to hit the lymph nodes like BBs, Gainer said. So, when they sent the lymph nodes for further testing, it turns out that two of the five had a couple of individual cancer cells in them.
What does this all mean? It means another surgery.
They must go back in and remove the rest of my lymph nodes on the right side. Because of my age, we don’t want a tumor to pop up in my lymph glands later down the road. Surgery is scheduled for Nov. 28.
We are now waiting for our appointment with the plastic surgeon’s office. I am excited and terrified. Excited that they are removing to most troublesome drain. Terrified that it will hurt, considering it is several inches inside my body.
After that, we will see the oncologist. I’ll post another update when we get to the airport.
Not a good day so far. If you forced me to find a positive from this trip so far, I would say this:
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was the “baby” at Petra, trying to prove myself at work. I got carded every time I ever went out or bought beer at the grocery. Over the past couple of years, I have definitely seen the age gap between me and the young people I work with. I’m no longer the baby. I only get carded 50 percent of the time now … but, here at MD Anderson, I’m the baby again, guys! I’ve never heard the phrase, “Because of your age …” so much in my life. It is all about perspective … I’m young again!
Keep us in your prayers, if you will.