Beginning the week after Thanksgiving 2016, Angie will begin a course of treatment for breast cancer, starting with about 20 weeks of chemotherapy.
In mid-September, after a "routine" mammogram, Angie was advised to have an ultrasound. Since that was also inconclusive, she was advised to have a biopsy.
On Monday, October 3, surrounded by her praying soccer-mom friends on the sidelines of Timothy's game, Angie's iPhone rang and, as T was scoring a goal, she heard from her doctor that the biopsy had disclosed some cancer cells. With that, Angie and family embarked on somewhat of a roller-coaster journey with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Apart from the fact that there was evidence of cancer cells, some of which had broken outside ducts (making it "stage 2"), all the other markers were encouraging. Next stop on Friday of that week, St. Luke's Hospital Breast Cancer Center, for almost a whole day of consultations with the experts, a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiology doctor, DNA consultant, nurses and others, one after another. Then a meeting with a plastic surgeon, expert in reconstruction, on the following Tuesday.
An MRI and DNA testing followed. From the mostly encouraging results, the team decided that a left-side single mastectomy would be the best course of treatment. Based on all the available information, chemotherapy and maybe even radiation therapy were not indicated.
As Angie shared the news with family and friends, welcoming prayer support, she kept an up-beat attitude. Surgery was scheduled for 10:00 AM on Monday, November 7.
As Ed and Timothy, surrounded by friends and family in the waiting room waited, time extended beyond the alloted 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the first phase of surgery. Finally, the surgeon came out to report that everything had gone well, but because unexpectedly cancer cells were discovered in the sentinel lymph nodes, he had to go back and remove the other lymph nodes, all of which would be sent to a pathology lab for testing. Results would be available in about a week. As the day wore on friends and family had to leave and about 4:30, the plastic surgeon reported that all had gone well and Angie was in recovery. At about 6:30 PM Ed was able to see Angie in the recovery room, and a couple of hours later Angie got to her room for the overnight stay.
The next morning, Residents checked on Angie, and Ed arrived and generally shared the news from the surgeon. Dr. Martin, the plastic surgeon, arrived, expressed some surprise at how well Angie looked and got around, and then compassionately and calmly took time to share with Angie the implications of the surgeon's findings, including the various options for treatment and reconstruction - depending on what the medical oncologist would recommend once the pathology reports were available. Despite the difficult news, Angie remained up-beat and hopeful.
On Thursday, November 10, the surgeon called to advise that the lab results indicated that some additional lymph nodes were involved - not all of them, less than half, but enough to require Dr. Pluard, the medical oncologist (and the director of the breast cancer center) to weigh in again with a suggested course of treatment.
Dr. Pluard's office called and advised that they had arranged for an appointment with him as early as Tuesday morning. Angie and Ed met with him. He reviewed the pathology reports, explained the implications and suggested a course of treatment that involved about 20 weeks of chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy and then hormone therapy. He asserted that the cancer was definitely treatable. He and the nurses then outlined and scheduled some additional scans and testing to be completed by Thanksgiving.
Assuming all works according to schedule, surgery to insert a port for the chemotherapy would occur on the Monday after Thanksgiving and the first chemotherapy session would occur the following Wednesday.
Angie, Ed, Timothy and Elise are grateful for the outpouring of encouragement, prayer support, meals and other acts of kindness, and Angie remains up-beat and hopeful as she faces the next year of treatment.