Friday we met with my new Oncologist at Faulkner Hospital. He spent 45 minutes with us and I felt like we had his full attention that entire time. I felt like he tried to get to know me, not just my diagnosis. He is also very nice and came across as very intelligent.
First he asked me lots of questions. Then he examined me which I found… uncomfortable. I’m not used to the new me and its different showing the breast surgeon or the plastic surgeon. My face was bright red and he commented on it – asking Bill if my complexion is normally like that! Ugh. I said I was hot. I’m pretty sure I fooled no one. Then I got to get dressed (Thank god) and he reviewed my final pathology report of the tissue they removed in detail.
7.3 cm by 3.6 cm of DCIS was found in my tissue (same as my biopsy). That’s a big area.
0.02cm of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) was found in the midst of all the DCIS. Estrogen receptor positive (though not as receptive as the DCIS), Progestin receptor negative and HER positive (this is bad and indicates an aggressive cancer). This was the bad cancer that can kill you. It was classified as Stage 2.
Lymph nodes were all negative for any cancerous cells. Surprising to Bill and I was the news that they ended up removing 5 nodes! 2 of the Sentinel nodes (that fed off my breast – these were the ones we wanted to get) and 3 more that were in the path to get to the sentinel nodes so kind of removed for no reason. It’s important for me to know this because the more nodes removed, the greater my chance of getting Lymphadema in my right arm. I’m hoping I never get that!
But the IDC was the thing to worry about and the Oncologist was very happy that it was only 0.02cm. If it had been 0.04cm’s I would have been put on a short round of Chemotherapy but at 0.02cm he felt that the risks of Chemo are not worth it for such a tiny amount of cancer that has already been cut out. He said my lifetime risk of recurrence is around 4%.
Our plan to reduce that 4% risk to 1% (or less) is: I am having my birth control implant removed from my arm and beginning January 1, 2012 I will start taking Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a drug that inhibits the amount of estrogen my body will produce. I would expect to be on it for five years. It is pretty standard for any pre-menopausal women with breast cancer. The side effects are hot-flashes! Based on my medical history my oncologist is hopeful that I won’t experience bad side effects. I’m thinking positive that I’ll tolerate this medicine well. Tamoxifen also has some benefits, one of which is stronger bones. The other is lower cholesterol but I already have low cholesterol.
I feel, so lucky. So lucky that I caught this before that .02 grew to a .04! I am a happy, lucky, healthy chick!