Sunday, September 27, 2009

The 'so-far' summary...

My 2009 summer....
June 12: lump found while showering
June 13: panicked visit to local clinic
June 26: ultrasound
July 23: meet with surgeon who recommended a fine needle aspiration
July 30: fine needle aspiration (like a biopsy)
Aug 07: meet with surgeon for diagnosis confirming cancer
Aug 13: mammogram
Aug 20: MRI
Aug 26 : Surgery to remove left breast, insert a tissue expander on the left side to prepare for an implant, and to reduce right breast
Oct 01: meet with Oncologist to find out the treatment plan

So my diagnosis showed overall Stage 2 because my lump was 3cm in size and one lymph node was involved. I was ER, PR & HER2 positive which basically means that hormones affect the tumour and will be part of the determination of the treatment plan.

Stage 2 is still considered 'early' for breast cancer - but of course, not as early as it could have been. It means I will have more extensive treatment than if I had been diagnosed at Stage 1.

Every couple of weeks, my tissue expander has saline added to it so that it slowly expands to make room for an implant. To do this, the plastic surgeon uses a device like a 'stud-finder' to find where the valve is on the expander, and then sticks a big-ass needle in there to inject the saline. It doesn't hurt - but it looks like it will hurt when he comes at me with a giant needle. Once the expander is the size that matches my newly reduced right breast, they will stop injecting saline, and then it stays that way for several months. I won't get the implant until after my chemotherapy is all finished with.

Just so you know, the right side breast reduction has little to do with the cancer diagnosis - it was something I had always wanted to do but was too scared to. So that was the 'good' side of getting cancer.... although, it probably helped the cancer part of it in that reconstruction of a breast to match a smaller opposite size is likely easier than it is for a bigger size.

At this point, the plan is that I will be off work until all the cancer stuff including chemo & reconstructive surgery is done with; however, one never knows for sure how all this works or what might be best for me, so nothing is written in stone. My work has been extremely supportive and has made this process for me as stress-free as possible!