Friday, November 13, 2009

When they said the big guns...

They weren't messing around! And by "they" I am referring to my medical staff. My first oncologist in Hawaii told me, upon my triple negative, stage IIIB diagnosis, that since I'm young and chemo/radiation/surgery are all I have to beat this, they're going to come at me hard.

This was reaffirmed during my trip to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I met with an oncologist who's a breast cancer specialist. She recommended that given my status, and the strong probability that I had/have lymph node involvement (this was indicated during my PET scan and MRI, but has never been pathologically proven before I started my neoadjuvant chemo) I should go through two more rounds of the current chemo cocktail I'm on, then start in with 12 weekly doses of Taxol . I would follow all of this with surgery, and the hope is that after all of that chemo, I would go into surgery with a pathologically complete response (meaning no more cancer in my body). This would give me the best chance for cure.

The oncologist and surgeon both agreed with my desire for a double mastectomy. With my genetic mutation and triple negative tumor, a double mastectomy drastically reduces my chance for recurrence or a secondary breast cancer developing. If I were to opt for a single, my risk of developing a secondary cancer in my non-affected breast is as high as 60-80%!

Even though I have loved the care I'm receiving at Madigan, I'm going to switch to SCCA for my surgery, reconstruction, and radiation. The plastics department at Madigan just don't see patients my age for breast reconstruction, and, quite frankly, I want someone who does. The distance issue is another factor. My awesome husband has been driving me 60 miles each way for tests, follow-ups and labs, and chemo appointments. SCCA is less than half that distance away, which will make a HUGE difference when I have to go for daily radiation for six weeks!

My fourth round of chemo went without a hitch. The best part of the day was receiving a beautiful new scarf from the Good Wishes program at France Luxe. This company specializes in beautiful head bands and hair ornaments. Their Good Wishes program offers a silk scarf or head wrap, free of charge, to any woman experiences hair loss because of illness. They sent my scarf with a card signed by employees of the company to encourage me! It was so touching. Perhaps the very best part about this great company is that they donate proceeds to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, which is what I have. So if you need a new headband, please support their cause!

And here I am, proudly displaying my new scarf:

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