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I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 1, 2018. I found a lump on my left breast in April and after a series of scans and biopsy, doctors identified Invasive Ductal Cancer and then after more scans and biopsies another area of Ductal Cancer In Situ (DCIS). These are the same cancers, but the invasive one has broken out of my milk duct and the In Situ one was still in my milk duct. The cancer is stage 2A which is very treatable. There is no indication that the cancer has spread anywhere else in my body. At first, I thought that I would just have surgery and radiation but as this journey has progressed, it has turned out to be more complicated.
I had my first breast surgery on July 17th. My surgeon at Virginia Mason, the excellent Dr. Debra Wechter, removed two tumors and surrounding tissue - a lumpectomy. She also removed 5 "sentinel" lymph nodes from under my left arm. The pathology report showed that I had no evidence of cancer in my lymph nodes indicating the cancer hasn't spread there - great news. Unfortunately there was cancer in the "margin" which is the area of tissue around the tumor they removed, indicating that she didn't get it all and so I needed a second surgery. The other not so great news is that I had a high "oncotype" score which gave me an increased risk of cancer re-occurrence and indicated that chemotherapy would increase my chances of a cure by 10-12%. So I will have chemotherapy.
Had the second surgery on August 30th - still a lumpectomy as I am trying to conserve as much of my breast as possible. Dr. W also implanted a power port in my chest to make Chemotherapy a bit easier. The pathology report on this one also showed cancer in the margins of what was removed. I will need another surgery at some point, however, after consultation with Dr W, I will have chemotherapy first, then when that is done, another surgery on my left breast. I will decide whether that surgery will be a mastectomy or not when the time comes. After the surgery, I will then have 3-6 weeks of radiation and then hormone therapy for at least 5 years.
My biggest surprise in all this cancer journey has been how much of a blunt instrument cancer treatment is, even in 2018. They can't see the cancer in my breast anymore, so all they can do is take out tissue, test it to see if it is clear, then if it isn't, go again. My regular mammograms never picked this up because my breasts are so dense you can't see the cancer there, we only found it when it grew to the point I could feel it. The decision to get chemotherapy is based on a statistical chance based on women studied over a period of time.
Thanks to all my friends and family for the amazing support. I am so touched and grateful for your kindness. Very Blessed!