Caught in the medical machine

Detailed medical information ahead, don't read it if you don't want the gory details.
Void where prohibited.
Not valid in Connecticut or Nebraska.

May you live in interesting times.
(Chinese curse)

p.s. remember when I said I'm not here to talk about my boobs?

I lied.

When we left off last week, our fair heroine was waiting for the results from the first biopsy. wertperch added the addendum, that indeed they did find cancer in my biopsy, and now I'm on to the next steps, talking with a team of doctors, and more follow-up tests.

The first step was a second biopsy - there were a few tiny specks in Thursday's mammogram, and having found cancer in the first biopsy, they decided to check the others. Again, reassurance comes first - "95% of these are benign, we just want to make sure." (I find that amongst other things, the process of having cancer diagnosed is rapidly turning me into Han Solo: "NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS.")

And, again, the news was bad. They did find cancer in the second biopsy. I learned this last Wednesday, when I met with the surgeon. This changes the diagnosis, and I did not have the brains to ask if that means it had spread, or started spontaneously in two places. The fact that I discovered it from finding enlarged lymph nodes makes the surgeon 95% certain that the lymph nodes are involved, which puts me at the least at stage IIIB.

This week I'll be going through several more tests, to try and get a few more details, and then deciding on a course of treatment. First will be an MRI, to get a finer scan, and make sure there is not something that the mammograms missed. Good answer would be that there IS nothing the mammogram missed, and the cancer is still confined to the right breast. Bad answer would be that they find more cancer, which would definitely mean a mastectomy, and if they find it in the left, we can wave that one goodbye, too.

The second test is in progress. They are currently testing the earlier biopsies to see if the cancer is estrogen receptive. This one is the whopper of mixed blessings. If they are estrogen receptive, I will, amongst the mix of other dandy treatments, take tamoxifen. (For the dirt on tamoxifen production, see doyle's w/u under The One-Boobed Systyrs of the Apocalypse. I couldn't have said it better me own self. end digression.) Tamoxifen = good because that can make the tumors go dormant, sometimes permanently. Tamoxifen = bad, because if I take estrogen out of my system, what I have is menopause. Probably permanently. With all the side effects of THAT. Sheesh. I'm sorry I used the phrase, "But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" in another writeup, I need it more now.

The third test will be genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes - if I'm positive for either of those, as I understand it, it whoppingly increases my odds of cancer, in general. Something like 40-80% of women with those genes will get breast cancer, and one of the signs is early onset (before menopause), aggressive (fast growing) cancer. It ALSO significantly increases the odds for ovarian cancer, which is generically more deadly than breast cancer. Remember this one? So tesing positive for either of these would make it likely that I will have both boobs removed, oh sorry, a "bilateral mastectomy", AND and oophorectomy, and if that's spelled wrong, I don't care. Ovaries removed.

So. I meet with an oncologist later this week, the surgeon on Friday. At a minimum (!) I suspect I'll be having a mastectomy, I will definitely be having both chemotherapy, and radiation. Yes, we are still planning to get married on the first of May - I'll be the cute bald bride.

However, I'm starting to think Kevin should have looked much more closely at the fine print in the warranty.....

(R) breast and (R) axilla - Caught in the medical machine - Going Amazonian - When the Breast Fairy Comes - So there we were, in Oncology, wishing for Star Trek technology - Weddings, and other Sundrie Diversions - Support the Amazons: A Dual-Function Ninjagirls Bakesale for Boobies - Seven Down, One to Go - 1950s technology meets 21st-century woman. - Getting better, but cancer SUCKS - An Open Letter to Macy's regarding Tits