I saw my professor today to go through my results and confirm what happens next. After Monday’s events, I felt I was already pretty well briefed.
The consulting room seems to be a bit chaotic today with lots of coming and going, phone calls, a variety of nurses, a new set of medical students and a failing printer. The students examine me – I’m doing my bit for their training.
We all peer at the MRI images of my dangling breasts on the professor’s computer screen. Wow, my tumour is this little round, solid white ball. That’s the pesky bugger that’s caused all this trouble. And I can see the shadow that is the “something” but is just bruising (my poor boob).
Professor Vaidya is incredibly reassuring about that white shadow.
I’ve been booked in for surgery on Tuesday 24th, next week. It will be a wide local excision (lumpectomy) with sentinel node biopsy. All the scans so far show my lymph nodes as clear of cancer cells, but the sentinel node biopsy is a routine and important check. If they find anything whilst I’m in theatre, they will cut out the affected lymph nodes.
I’m hugely grateful I do not need a mastectomy.
We also discussed my treatment. Definitely radiotherapy, and I chose to be part of the Targit B trial. Maybe chemotherapy, maybe hormone therapy, but this will not be confirmed until we have the full biopsy results from my tumour and lymph node. So, there’s more of that limbo-land waiting to come, but right now I’m focussed on step one of the plan, which is to cut the cancer out.
Getting a cancer diagnosis launches you on to this incredibly steep learning curve, and for me information is power. I can feel in control if I understand what is happening. So, I read all the material I’m given and use the websites recommended to me. Beware, there is so much old and/or wrong information on the internet. You can scare the pants off yourself and become hugely confused. I think the NHS and charity sites are the most trustworthy.
At this stage my cancer has been diagnosed as a small Invasive Duct Cancer, which is the most common type (in my naivety, I never knew there are so many types of breast cancer). It is grade 3, ER7, PR0, Her2neg. This stuff matters because it tells us how the cancer is growing, what feeds it and so how to treat it to prevent a recurrence. In my case, it looks to be fast growing (grade 3) and oestrogen (ER7) feeds it. So, hormone therapy (eg tamoxifen) is highly likely, and maybe chemotherapy too because it is grade 3. But we need the full pathology results before diagnosis and treatment can be confirmed.