It’s still gross but I do feel better.
Ok – got to meet my breast surgeon today, Dr. Bretzke. First, I kind of liked her. To be fair, I know that is far from critically important, and I’d rather her ultimate strength be in the surgical area and would admire her regardless. Still, it’s just a bonus that I feel her confidence and strength and knowledge spinning all around when I share space with her and she’d be a fascinating person to chat with over wine. Alas, my time with her will not be as light hearted and interesting, and for the most part, I’ll likely be asleep when we meet again, but I’m feeling more and more like my path is becoming a bit more visible.
First, she handed me a copy of my pathology report. It’s seriously funky and long and not super uplifting reading material, but she helped us interpret which was very kind.
I have 2 tumors – 1 at 9 o’clock (yes, they use clock terminology), and 1 at 12 o’clock. Based on the testing thus far, it appears that they are 2 separate tumors, however, it is possible that they are 1 larger tumor, and we won’t know that until surgery.
As far as hormone testing goes, both tumors are Estrogen and Progesterone receptor positive, which I’m told is a good thing because there is a clear treatment to inhibit redevelopment, and that was the 1 absolute she shared today. I will need to be on a hormone medication for the next 5-10 years following cancer treatment.
The other test they did was more inconclusive. It’s a test for HER2 – one of the biopsy sites was inconclusive, so we won’t have results until after surgery. This also makes predicting what steps follow surgery more challenging at the moment.
Ok – surgery. Yes, I need it. I’m not a great candidate for a lumpectomy because of the 2 tumor locations not being close together. She recommends a mastectomy of the right breast. I asked about the left, and she said it’s my call.
Because anxiety and I are not friends, and I would constantly be worrying about my left breast (not to mention symmetry issues – right side would be 20-year-old Kammy and left side would be following-3-offspring Kammy – yikes!), they are both exiting stage left and my new friend, Dr. Miglioni, will help me with reconstruction. This is clearly someone I need to befriend, and have Elliott bake brownies for!
Surgery is likely to take place in about 2 weeks – however, the exact date can’t be scheduled until I meet with Dr. Miglioni, the reconstructive surgeon (reconstruction occurs immediately following mastectomy – one surgical team leaves, the next comes in), so it all kind of happens in synch, which kind of amazes me.
They will do lymph node testing during surgery, and further testing on the tumors that will guide treatment moving forward, but those results won’t arrive until a few days following surgery. As of right now, Dr. Bretzke is considering my case to be clinical stage 1, but if the tumors are actually 1 larger tumor and if my lymph nodes do test positive, that will change to stage 2.
She has already referred me to a medical oncologist who will help us decide whether chemo or radiation are next, and after that fun it will be further constructive surgery and then hormone treatment. All in all, she feels like my journey in the immediate sense will be approximately a year if all goes well (pounding on wood).
So – it’s not a party, but I have to say I feel so much better after meeting Dr. Bretzke and the amazing team of coordinators and nurses from the United Breast Center. This journey continues to have some unknowns, but I can say that today feels a heck of a lot better than yesterday, and that’s a start!
Most of all, our village has been overflowing with messages of hope and healing and good vibes like crazy. The kids are hanging in there, Tom found a Packer Backer (my nurse coordinator) and I have chocolate. But above all, in the face of serious ugliness, I feel immense gratitude for the boatloads of amazing people in my life. For an introvert – I’m genuinely surprised and humbled to have connected with so much amazingness in my life. Who knew? Kind of heart warming to feel supported from near and far, and I thank you.
This is still going to be gross, and I’m still in need of your positive vibes when you can spare them, but there is a lot more hope today than yesterday.
In short, love ya, man.