My parents on their wedding day. Can you believe these two people had a baby at their ages? Gotta love my mom's 70's wedding dress. She wanted me to wear it when I got married.
I thought a lot about my mother and my grandmother right after I had the biopsy. I remember driving home thinking that if they were out there somewhere, maybe they could intervene and somehow make my biopsy normal. I didn't want to go through the same thing they had been through, and maybe they could spare me this trial. I think I just wanted and still want my mother to be with me during all of this. I miss her so much!
I thought I was 2/3rds finished with my chemo until I met with my oncologist for my 4th treatment. Apparently the pathology lab got a new machine that tests for the her2 protein in July. Since then, there have been more her2 positive breast cancers than normal. Her2 testing starts with staining the tumor cells and looking at them under a microscope. Depending on how many cells stain, it is rated 0, 1+, 2+, or 3+. 0 and 1 are negative, 2 is equivocal, and 3 is positive. If the results are 2+, another test is sent called a FISH to look at the DNA. I didn't know this, but my tumor was borderline positive. Because of this and the new machine, they decided in late October to send the FISH test on my tumor and it came back negative. My oncologist wanted a second opinion so he requested that my her2 testing be repeated at another lab. The results came back yesterday. The staining was 2+ and the FISH was negative. So, I guess this means that my cancer is technically her2 negative which is a good thing. (The her2 protein makes the cancer more aggressive and more likely to spread)
The bad news is that I have been treated for a her2 positive breast cancer, and now my oncologist thinks that I should be on a different chemo regimen. I have been receiving taxotere, carboplatin, and herceptin every three weeks for 6 treatments, (I have finished 4 out of 6) then was planning on continuing herceptin every three weeks for a year. If my tumor had not been labeled as her2 positive, I would have received adriamycin and cytoxan every 2 weeks for 4 treatments, and then taxol every week for 4 treatments. Since the taxotere is similar to taxol, he is going to count that as the taxol and wants me to start adriamycin and cytoxan next week. The plan is to do 4 treatments of the adriamycin and cytoxan every 2 weeks. This is frustrating to me because If I would have initially started on this regimen I would have been finishing up the chemo and would possibly be getting my mastectomy in December. Now my mastectomy will likely be pushed back until the end of January. (I had it scheduled for January 10th). Adriamycin and cytoxan are typically harder to tolerate than the chemo I've been on, so I'm scared for that. The plan is still up in the air on what my next step is with the chemo, and I'll know more next week.
I had an ultrasound to make sure the tumor is shrinking, and the radiologist couldn't really find it. She said that if she didn't already know I had cancer, she may have read it as normal. My lymph nodes also look normal! I can still feel the tumor, but it is a lot smaller and softer.
I also met with the Radiation Oncologist Dr Avizones. She recommends that I do the chest wall radiation because it increase survival by 10%. I have decided to do it, so I won't be able to get my mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time. This is because radiation damages tissue and dramatically lengthens healing times. Instead, my plastic surgeon will place tissue expanders. I will then have 25 radiation treatments. Then I can have the DIEP reconstruction which probably won't be until May or even June. It's Depressing that this is going to take that long.
I am intermittently having anxiety, and continue to struggle with my thoughts. For example, while getting my teeth cleaned I wondered if I should even be doing it because I was going to die anyway. I have also been shopping and wondered if it was a waste buying clothes since I am going to die. In events such as birthdays, piano recitals etc, I think that maybe this is the last time I will do these activities. Then I start wondering if these thoughts are premonitions, but Paul says that the spirit doesn't speak to people with fear and anxiety, so I think it's the adversary trying to get me down and test my faith. I had a day last week where I felt negative about everything, and kept feeling that all of this was unfair. Why did I have to get breast cancer at 35 while breastfeeding? Why did my BRCA test come back positive so I have to worry about getting my ovaries removed? I feel like I am so distracted by breast cancer, that I am not even enjoying my baby's first year, or my other kids. I feel like my kids are getting cheated by having to worry about their mother all the time. I decided to let myself have that day, and then move on and try to be more positive from there.
I need to express my thanks to so many people who have been so supportive. We have had countless dinners brought to us on the weeks of my Chemo. My Friends at work have set up a housekeeper that comes every 2 weeks so I don't have to worry about cleaning when I am sick. People have dropped off treats, hats, books, and been very helpful with driving my kids around. We feel so blessed by the outpouring of support we have received. Thank you!