Sarah Johnson

First post: Jun 11, 2021 Latest post: May 16, 2022
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Back in 2019 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma in my right breast. The cancer was hormone receptor positive for estrogen and progesterone (ER+/PR+) but negative for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (or HER2-).  I had a lumpectomy with sentinel node removal of two axillary lymph nodes from my right arm pit.  The surgical margins in the lumpectomy were clear and the lymph nodes were negative for metastasis.  The oncotype of the cancer indicated only a 5% risk of distal recurrence at 9 years with endocrine therapy alone and only a marginal chemo benefit of 1.6%.  So with these good surgical outcomes and low chemo benefit, we opted just for radiation therapy and endocrine therapy (taking an oral estrogen blocker called tamoxifen daily).  I was then placed on a frequent monitoring regime of alternating mammograms and breast MRIs every six months. All of which were clear.

Then in late 2020, early 2021 I started to experience infrequent discomfort in my right upper quadrant. I had already had a gall bladder removal in 2019, but when the sensation didn't abate, I finally followed up with my gastroenterologist. She wanted to rule out any bile duct issues and ordered an abdominal MRI. This discovered more than 10 lesions on both lobes of my liver.  A subsequent biopsy confirmed cancer thought to represent metastatic recurrence of my breast cancer despite some discrepancies from the original pathology (for example the liver biopsy indicated only weakly positive for ER).  

While we are still waiting on genotyping test results and we'll seek input from MD Anderson to explore all the treatment options available, I have begun chemotherapy to shrink the tumors and prevent further spread. 

My oncologist said that the traditional prognosis for metastatic breast cancer with liver involvement is about two years, but that estimate is no longer widely acknowledged as there are several new target treatments and advanced therapies available and women are frequently living beyond that estimate.  I'm hopeful that I will fall into that category and intend to enjoy life to the fullest in the meantime!

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