Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Beginning of a New Quest

On August 2nd, I got some news. The lump in my right breast was determined to be cancer. Testing was done on the biopsy tissue and more information was gathered. The one thing I've learned lately is that information has to be gathered, but it all comes back in drips. A piece of the puzzle here, another piece of the puzzle there, but always the puzzle remains. Just having a diagnosis doesn't mean you have a clear path to action.

Right now, this is what I know. I've met with two surgeons to see what approaches they suggested. I've selected a surgeon in north Atlanta to work with. A gracious soul privileged me with a view of her handiwork, and I know that I want her to be in charge of my surgical treatment.

My tissue samples have been sent off to another lab for a second opinion, but the first pass indicates an aggressive form of cancer that is estrogen and progesterone negative. That means there are two whole groups of chemotherapy drugs that can't be used effectively with my brand of cancer. My HER2 receptors are neither positive nor negative, and therefore until removal of the actual tumor and more studies, I'll be treated as if I am HER2 positive.

I've gotten an MRI of the girls but the results are not yet back. The purpose of the MRI is to determine if there are any further areas of concern (i.e., tumors) in other locations of the breast that can't be adequately imaged by the mammograms. If there are other areas of concern, that will certainly influence the urgency and extent of treatment. It's presumed at this time, that the tumor that has been biopsied is the only location.

I see an oncologist in Carrollton on Monday (August 20th) about chemotherapy options, and on Wednesday I have some further testing scheduled. I have a lot of very technical information to sort through and then decisions to make about what treatment options are my preference. I'm very encouraged by how open the doctors have been so far. They have been giving me the information and allowing me to decide what option I prefer. I appreciate that.

At this time, I know that I will get surgery, some form of chemotherpy and radiation therapy. I don't know what order that will be done, and I don't know how I'll feel. The surgery may be more or less extensive -- I don't know yet what is likely to be the best choice. The chemotherapy will have to be tailored to the tumor and what it most responds to. There are some drugs that will be excluded because of the ER and PR negative issues. I'm sure that there will be attempts with other drugs, and I don't know yet what they will be.

I'll try to update this blog so that you can find out the current status of my quest without me having to repeat myself over and over to my caring friends and colleagues. I appreciate your prayers and your kindness.


Anonymous said...

Joann, I am so sorry to hear about your breast cancer. How did you find it? I am so bad about doing my breast check. You seem to have done a lot of research on your situation. You said you would have some type of surgery, and then treatments. How long will this all take and I'm sure your school will work with you. You keep us informed because we want to know how you are doing and your progress. Take care and I will most definitely keep you in my prayers. Keep in touch!

Liz Key

Anonymous said...

Joann, My prayers & thos of the family are with you and your family. Know that I am also enrolling all the angels to be by your side. I am slo praying for the doctors, nurses that work with you. If you need me, call, I will take time off. Love, Randy