The first slap

The first slap
This photo was taken the day after I was diagnosed, and it is my first bitch slap at cancer. I'm the one with the icepack symbolically placed on my boob. My teammates changed our team's uniform to pink at the last minute, and I came off the soccer field that night with one goal and a whole lot of love. Several of these women are my close friends, but they are all warriors, and they all helped me set the tone for this fight.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Where we are"

Hello, friends. This is actually a copy of portions of an email I sent to some friends just prior to creating this blog, so I'm reposting here, as it contains some specifics about "where we are."

I have met now with most of my doctors, and they are all awesome. I'm being treated at the Mills Breast Cancer Institute at Carle Hospital in Urbana. They use a team approach here, and based on conversations (family connections) with oncologists elsewhere (e.g., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle), I am getting top-notch care. At first, based on the mammo and ultrasound, they were pretty sure I had cancer in 5-7 lymph nodes. However, I had also been told that it is very difficult to determine that on a mammo, as lymph nodes can look funky for a variety of reasons. I got my MRI results yesterday, and it showed cancer in only two nodes, and nothing suspicious in the left breast. So, right now, just the invasive ductal carcinoma on the right side and two lymph nodes. This is a slice of good news in an otherwise quite unpleasant situation.

I will have a few other general tests, including a genetic work-up this coming week, and a PET-CT on Tuesday, November 26th to look for metastases. They say the odds of that are fairly low (still worried, myself, as this appears to be a fast-growing cancer). I am penciled in for surgery on Dec. 10th, but depending on the pathology of the tumors (which isn't in yet) and the PET-CT, that could change, such that I would do chemo prior to mastectomy (neo-adjuvant, rather than adjuvant chemo). The results of the surgery will determine my staging, but if the cancer has not metastasized and if there is cancer in no more than 3 lymph nodes, then I will be staged at "2B." 
Regardless of the final staging, I will get the whole kit & kaboodle of treatments: Unilateral mastectomy with lymph node dissection, ~6 mo. of chemotherapy, and radiation. A package deal! Breast cancer has become a highly treatable disease and science is on my side. In a sick sort of way I'm actually looking forward to giving my cancer a serious bitch slapping. :-) I am not looking forward with glee to the treatments, but they don't scare me, either.

Also, if this pans out in the direction it looks like it's heading, I will be able to go to the Literacy Research Association conference Dec. 4-7. Those of you who are a part of my professional world know how important this is to me. My stepmother, Patricia, (a.k.a. My female professional role model BFF soul sista) will be flying to Dallas to stay and attend with me. My dad just left to head home, and my mom comes to stay with us tomorrow.
This should prove to be a very interesting and roller-coasterish year. Thanks for all your love and support! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone, as we have an enormous amount to be thankful for.

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