When I started to write this post, I had only told a few people. But tonight I decided to go “Facebook Official” and shared this new little space- so I guess I should jump into answering all the questions.
(Also quick note. As I write this I had to stop reading the comments and the messages and texts. I am overwhelmed with all the love coming my way and I want to say THANK YOU and also- I WILL get back to you all. I just had to take a break. I did not expect this much love).
First up- what type. I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. The cancer started in my milk ducts. If you were not aware, supposedly breastfeeding helps reduce your chances of breast cancer. In addition, my oncologist told me each pregnancy/childbirth ALSO reduces your risk.
Funny story. I have 4 kids. And- I know this because I had to count it up for my genetic testing questionnaire- I breastfed a total of EIGHT out of the last 11 years. Soooooooo yeah. So much for that risk reduction!
ANYWAY, so invasive ductal carcinoma. When they send your biopsies off, they also check the mass for a few things to help guide treatment. They look to see if your cancer is hormone positive or negative- that is- is the tumor fueled by estrogen and/or progesterone. They also test the tissue to see if the cancer is HER2 positive or negative.
We immediately knew the “good” news that my cancer was hormone positive. This means that I have more treatment options that can help prevent recurrence. However the HER2 results take longer to get back. I’ll explain in another post more about HER2- but for now I’ll just tell you that we found out a few days later that I was HER2 positive- which is NOT a positive (haha). HER2 is aggressive and fast growing/fast spreading.
This meant that I needed to start chemo and targeted therapy ASAP to reduce the chances of it spreading.
Ah yes- spreading. Another common question has been regarding what stage of cancer I have and what my prognosis is. Actually- my oncologist didn’t really tell us, nor did we ask- in our initial meeting. I can tell you that it’s confirmed in one node under my arm via biopsy and likely couple more (same location) based on my CT. There was no evidence of metastasis anywhere else in my body, including my brain. That’s a stage 2B or 3A depending on the exact number of nodes they are going to go with. I didn’t bother asking my oncologist when I spoke to him last because…it doesn’t matter. I’m going to kill it whether it’s 1 lymph node or 3 or 10.
And prognosis? Again- I don’t need percentages. because they are just numbers.
Let’s see…do I have a family history? Of breast cancer? Nope. Not a one. No ovarian either. But cancer? Yes- we do have cancer- but several different unrelated types and…mostly in the men.
One of the first things my nurse Melanie told me I needed was genetic testing (oh- I have my own Breast Care nurse who coordinates my care. She is AMAZING. I love her so). She explained that there are the two “big” BRCA genes but also a handful of others as well that can increase risk of breast cancer. And if I had any of them it may affect how we move forward with my surgical treatment. A couple days later Justin and I met with the nurse who coordinates the genetic testing and went over all of it with us and the next day I had my blood drawn. I received the results Monday morning first thing: ALL NEGATIVE. Negative for ALL NINE of those pesky genes.
Another win. Had I been positive for the BRCA genes I would have opted for a double mastectomy after chemo. Apparently it would have meant a 50% recurrence rate. No.Thank.You.
When do I start chemo? ASAP. We are literally just waiting on my insurance to approve my last med. I could even be starting as early as the day before Thanksgiving.
And the big one: How was it found? That’s next time….