31 March 2011

Time for something else to panic about!

Now that I can shower every morning for as long as I want, I can also go to work. Just going outside is amazingly pleasurable after being stuck on the couch for three weeks. Seeing other people, well, I certainly won't be complaining about that added bonus.

The only problem? I'm still stuck in sports bras for 24 hours a day. They make my back itchy, which is particularly not useful when I can't even scratch the normally accessible areas. And while I am absolutely ecstatic to have the damn drain out, the superfluous hole is taking its sweet time to heal. The area under the steri-strips is constantly begging for a good scratching. But Matt won't let me because then it'll never heal. Stupid epidermis.

Now for the news you all have been waiting for - test results! From the initial biopsy, I already knew that the tumor was positive for estrogen and progesterone receptors. This is good in that the tumor likes hormones, so denying it hormones is akin to starving it. Then came all the imaging, which determined the cancer to be an in situ ductal carcinoma with left axillary lymph node involvement. After the surgery, which provided a much better look at the stupid thing, the initial report found cancer cells in only one lymph node out of the twenty-two removed. That's the best possible result when they know at least one lymph node has been affected. Now, here's where it gets interesting.

There are two tests run for HER2, a protein associated with faster growth. One checks for extra copies of the gene that creates the protein, the other checks for the proteins themselves. The initial report had one positive test and one negative test. Since that is only very contradictory, the pathology department decided to run both tests again themselves, as well as to send it out to a third-party lab for independent confirmation.

Waiting for test results under the best of circumstances can be nerve-racking. These results would only determine how many weeks and the type of chemotherapy to which I will be subjected. Negative means twelve weeks and I'm done with chemo and radiation before the wedding. Positive means, well, I can't finish before the wedding date. Nothing big.

Dr. Oncologist expected the results by Wednesday, approximately a week after she explained the situation. I went berserk until she finally called after 8:00PM on Wednesday. The official report was not ready yet. However, a nurse friend took a look at the handwritten and unsigned lab report on the pathologist's desk. Negative! Huzzah! But I shouldn't celebrate until the official report comes back with results from the other lab. Me? Celebrate early? I would never.

Okay, some more waiting. But at least I had the answer, even if it was handwritten and unsigned. Or at least until I got another call from Dr. Oncologist, that is. Apparently a certain nurse was in trouble for misinterpreting handwritten and unsigned lab reports on the pathologist's desk. The actual results were... heterogeneous! Not only am I ridiculously young for breast cancer, I have the ridiculously uncommon version!

Some poor lab tech actually had to sit there and examine each cell in the tested sample. He determined that 42.5% of the cells are HER2 positive, while the remaining 57.5% are negative. Well, fuck.

HER2 positive is good in that there are well-known courses of treatment. Somehow that didn't make me feel any better about the 18 weeks of chemo in my near future. For those of you without a calendar, that takes me through mid-July. Even with an aggressive schedule, it would be physically impossible to finish radiation before our wedding date. Excuse me while I go cry some more.

But wait! Apparently radiation is the least important step in treatment. It can be delayed for six weeks without additional risk! And since nearly two months is more than the necessary three to six weeks to recover from chemo, I'll be fine come mid-September! THE WEDDING IS OFFICIALLY ON!


photonsrain said...

SCREW CANCER! Don't let these nasty little proteins and cancer cells get in the way of your LIFE or your WEDDING or your celebrating and being awesome with Matt. <3

osmodion said...

Yeah! Take that you stupid cancer! Nobody likes you! And your mother wears army boots!

photonsrain said...

... you wear army boots?!

osmodion said...

Yes. Yes I do.