MD Anderson: Day 1

We have completed Day 1 of MD Anderson. We started with registration, then met with Dr. Moulder, the oncologist. She was very nice and spent a lot of time explaining things to us.

She doesn’t have long hair anymore, but doesn’t she TOTALLY look like Chloe in 24?”

We started by telling her what Mercy had told us. Surgery, chemo, radiation, reconstruction. She threw us some possible alternatives: 1) Chemo first. 2) No chemo (followed quickly by a “you will probably need it though” statement).

First, we will be going to get a mammogram and another ultrasound. The mammogram will be to make sure she agrees that my left side is clean. The ultrasound will be looking for any trace of cancer in my lymph nodes. They will be prepared to do a biopsy of the lymph nodes if they see something.

Reminder: If they cancer has hit the lymph nodes, we know that it is potentially elsewhere in my body. That means chemo for sure.

So, if she KNOWS I will have to have chemo (because the biopsy shows it has hit the lymph nodes), she might start me out with chemo before surgery. While the outcome of doing the chemo FIRST is no different than doing surgery first, the benefit of doing it first is that they can watch the tumor to see if it is responding to the chemotherapy. If they remove it first, they can’t. So, we would know if the drugs (with not-so-great side effects) they are injecting in me are actually working.

If the ultrasound does not show cancer in the lymph nodes, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. This type of cancer, she says, tends to not cause tumors in the lymph nodes, but instead more of a web of cancer cells that grow. This makes it harder to see on an ultrasound. So, if my ultrasound shows nothing, they will still be doing the sentinel node biopsy during surgery.

Cool “tree sculpture” in our MD Anderson building.

We are scheduled to see the surgeon tomorrow morning after my mammogram. They are hoping to get me in for an ultrasound in the afternoon or Monday morning. We are banking on a cancellation to happen so I can get in because right now, there isn’t an opening until Tuesday morning. Assuming they get me in, I believe that my visit would then end with a 4 pm appointment with Chloe (aka Dr. Moulder) on Monday. So, cross your fingers that they fit me in for the ultrasound. This means we can head home on Tuesday!

Oh, and I almost forgot! Dr. Moulder (though stressing that she is not the surgeon so her word isn’t THE word on this) talked about options of inserting expanders during the mastectomy. If we do that, it will allow them to save skin during the mastectomy in anticipation of reconstruction. Throughout chemo, the plastic surgeon would slowly add fluid in to stretch the skin out (accommodating for the skin they had to remove during the mastectomy). I’m not sure of the details on how this is not a problem with radiation. I’ll ask tomorrow! But, I was excited to hear how they will prepare me for reconstruction. No one mentioned any of that at Mercy.

Long medical post, I know. Tomorrow’s will probably be more of the same. I hope, at some  point, to give you a glimpse of the fancy (**shaking my head**) hotel we are staying at. Top notch, I tell ya.

5 thoughts on “MD Anderson: Day 1

  1. Jenny and Alan – I don’t know how I’ve missed that you are going through all this! So sorry to hear about it! I don’t know of anyone who will do a better job than Jenny of assessing the situation, making the right (and sometimes tough if necessary) decision, then moving forward to make things happen. Keep holding on to each other and being your usual verbose selves – this blog is a wonderful way to share your experience and feelings with all of us who care! Best of luck on day 2 at MDA.

  2. I know these guys (and gals) are the experts in dealing with this nasty stuff. So glad you getting a second opinion, even if its just for a little piece of mind. Love, B

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