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Maria McNeely (Thorpe)
7/29/2017 Latest post:
For some reason, I keep thinking about the time Gilda Radner appeared on It's Gary Shandling's Show in the late 80's. Gilda tells Gary that she hasn't been on TV for a long time and he asks what was wrong. She replies that she had cancer and asked him what he had. His reply was a series of bad career decisions. They were two of my favorite comedians and I loved the way Gilda's cancer was addressed on the show. There's nothing funny about cancer, but without a sense of humor, you're sunk.
Quick Timeline. Yearly mammograms have been clear including the one on September 2017. Felt a lump the last week of May, 2017 and had a biopsy June 8th. Results of the biopsy presented 3 options which I like to refer to as crappy, crappier, and crappiest. First, the crappiest - due to the history of breast cancer in my family, there was concern that I might be BRCA positive. A genetic test ruled that out, so we're down to crappier and crappy. There were indications that I might be HER2 positive and after 5 tests, we finally got a negative result. So we only have crappy to deal with (or so we thought). My breast cancer is estrogen and progesterone positive what is apparently the best kind of breast cancer to have. However the tumor is grade 3 and my Ki-67 score was 50-60%. I'm not sure what exactly that means other than the cancer is aggressive.
I think the moment it became very real from me is when the oncologist said I'd need to take some time off work. I said maybe like 4 weeks and she said more like 6 months. Apparently being a teacher is not a good combination with immune killing chemo. I keep arguing that I teach 6th graders and they don't touch me. However, the oncologist, surgeon, and my family will probably do anything they can to keep me healthy, so school isn't looking good. But keep this on the down low because my principal doesn't know about the missing work part yet.
Yesterday I had the tumor and 2 lymph nodes removed. As an added bonus, I had a port-a-cath installed, so I'll be ready to rock chemo in 4 weeks. I was really hoping to skip the chemo part, but because of my age, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and a lingering doubt about having some HER2 receptors lurking about, chemo is the thing to do. At this point we don't know if it will the the 12, 18, or 20 week version, which will then be followed up by 6-7 weeks of radiation. By the way, radiation treatment is 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. On a positive note, I'll be able to work while during my radiation.
So, in a week or so, I should have the pathology for the lymph nodes and margins, and then another week or so, I'll know more about the makeup of the tumor. Then a decision will be made about the chemo, and I'll probably get started the week of 8/14.
That's where everything stands for now. Many of you have expressed a desire to help. For now, just positive thoughts. I promise to reach out when I need anything more than that.