Beth Chappell

First post: Dec 17, 2019 Latest post: Jun 27, 2020

Thank you for visiting Beth’s CaringBridge.  Beth, as well as her closest friends and family, are strengthened by the broad and generous show of care and support.  While Beth is being treated for breast cancer, she has far more in her life than just this. But of course, the content here sticks to the topic of Beth’s cancer treatment. Just don’t be fooled thinking this cancer thing needs to consume or define her. It doesn’t, it hasn’t and it won’t. It’s an unwelcome inconvenience; haven’t we all lived with those to varying degrees at some point?  Our posts (Beth, Kim Golla, Pam Wentink or Beth Beduhn authors) aim to inform visitors for both the practical and profound ways sharing the information may provide help and blessings. Your visit means a lot. Thank you.

Here’s the story:
November 7, Beth had a routine mammogram that turned into follow-up mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy on November 11.  Beth has since learned that she has breast cancer, specifically invasive ductal carcinoma, Stage 2.

After the genetic test results came back and second opinion was explored in Chicago; treatment began here in MN at Piper Breast Center (Abbott) teamed up with MN Oncology.

✅ First step: removal surgery on December 18. 
✅ Second step: known cancer sent away for comprehensive pathology tests as well as the highly useful genomic oncotype test. The genomic test is used to ascertain the likelihood of recurrence sooner/later and local/distant.  This testing determines the rest of the plan. January 2020

(A few unexpected surgical steps) Needed two additional surgeries after the removal due to complications in reconstruction and healing. 

✅ Third step: chemo. Starts Feb 4th, 2020.

✅ Fourth step: strong endocrine therapy and light monitoring for the next decade or so.  Planned for spring  2020-2030.
✅ Fifth step: the upside. Reconstruction ‘on the house’ for life.  Count on it!

For the first surgery Beth elected full double mastectomy. Removing everything saved her as pathology gave us quite a bit more information - there was a fourth (invasive) tumor that would have otherwise been left behind. The ‘found’ tumor had developed into the second largest. The two largest were both upgraded to grade 3 cancer cells.

So, in total there were actually 6 tumors identified. The final report counts 4 invasive (and doctors confirmed the 2 earlier found non-invasive were still there, but no longer ‘relevant’. Apparently there is a point where the pathology measures, focuses, and tests only the worst/biggest cancer. I suppose the treatment for “sprouted” cancer trumps the early “buds” of cancer.  And treatment plan wouldn’t change.)

What had been suspicious lymphovascular invasion initially was upgraded to extensive lymphovascular invasion (LVI).  

All removed.

Thankfully, no cancer was found in either of the two sentinel nodes, both removed at time of surgery.  All remaining nodes were left untouched and intact.

Beth’s oncotype result (genomic test run on cancer cells from the largest 2.7cm grade 3 tumor) put her at risk score for recurrence that indicated more treatment would be prudent. This was probably the most important step. Chemo will be followed by a decade of endocrine therapy to address this.  

There was a complication with the expanders placed at time of removal. This complication meant Beth needed to return to surgery before starting chemo.

The repair surgery from the failed expanders has now been done and chemo port has been placed (Jan 17).  The healing did not go as well as expected after the repair surgery and a third repair surgery was required (Jan 28) in lieu of chemo start. 

Feb 4th chemo round one started. Second round scheduled for Feb 25th. All chemos went according to schedule, and coincided with the pandemic and worldwide shutdown.

Beth lost her hair in February 2020 and has a new thick soft batch of hair growing in June 2020.

Endocrine therapy started June 12, 2020 (they wouldn't let her wait any longer) and will continue for 10 years.  It's a very effective preventative and cure of her type of cancer.

The final phase is removing the port and reconstruction, that’s going to wrap up fall 2020. Very blessed to see the back of this book alive and even thriving despite all of it in 2020!

We hope to have only minimal indications of this chapter in her life once she heals from this final surgery.  And we also hope that the endocrine therapy can be managed for her to have a wonderful quality of life despite the decade protocol they are asking for endocrine therapy.

Beth and her children, Elise, Heidi and Bennett, appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.