Keith said it, and I am beginning to agree with him: every time we go to a doctor or get a phone call from one, the diagnosis gets worse. Craptastic!
To bring you up-to-date:
Tuesday, the surgeon called from her vacation, to tell me the official results of the surgery. (Note to self or anyone out there who might care: if your doctor calls you from her vacation, the news will NOT be good...just sayin'). The 1 lymph node with cancer is not concerning anyone, because it's "only cells." She agrees that this will not drive the treatment decision. What is concerning is the fact that during this surgery, she just pulled 2cm of cancer out of the original lumpectomy site. Add this to the 1.1cm tumor she removed 3 weeks before, and the total of 3.1cm of cancer puts this angry beast in an entirely new and exciting category. When your cancer triples in size basically overnight, you are obviously graduated up the scary patient scale to the top. She tells me I must make an appointment with the medical oncologist THIS WEEK (medical oncology = chemotherapy).
(By the way, the rest of Tuesday was spent curled up in a ball in bed with a book and the TV. It was mini meltdown day and I'll own that).
Thursday: We had an appointment with the medical oncologist (which will further be referred to in this blog as the chemo doc). First, I have to start by saying that by the time we FINALLY saw her, she redeemed the entire practice from my initial reactions. But in all honesty, when I arrived, I immediately didn't like the place, and wanted to leave. At the time, the only redeeming quality was that their paperwork was so INSANE that it will provide fodder for a future post (stay tuned!).
The doctor was terrific, very calming and reassuring, she got my sense of humor and she explained everything so well. It's not really her fault that I didn't like what she was saying. In a nutshell, here's the scoop:
(1) Yes, there will have to be another surgery. It'll be up to me whether it's a mastectomy or not, but whatever I choose won't make a difference in the rest of treatment because my cancer is so angry.
(2) Chemotherapy, the one thing that I was hoping to avoid, is a MUST at this point, and the sooner the better. As in NOW!
(3) There are several options for chemo, but she's recommending me to participate in a clinical trial (assuming the scientists like my witty sense of humor, I guess) which will include 6 rounds of chemo. Each round is 3 weeks long. When you do that fancy math, you get 18 weeks of chemo...yippee!
(4) Absolutely no way is she letting me go to Hawaii for Christmas (which, by the way, we've already booked). In fact, if she could convince me not to go to Vegas for Thanksgiving next weekend, she'd have me starting chemo next week.
So now you see why Craptastic! is my word for the day. I did hold it together in the office and asked all the right questions (like, should I plan on working or not? Middle school students are a hot-bed of disease after all), but I did cry the whole way home. And yes, one of the other questions I did ask was could waiting a few extra weeks until after the Christmas Hawaii trip really make a difference? I mean really, how could it possibly, right?! Well, when the expert looks at you and says, "I wouldn't," you'd be stupid not to take her advice. Damn...
Thursday evening involved wallowing in self pity with House re-runs on the TV and a giant jar of Nutella by my side. It did end on a positive note, when my teenage son spent the evening watching TV with me (go Sounders!). We had a bonding experience making fun of the girl child (yeah, we're evil, but she was a little out of control before going to bed), and talking about what they were learning about in biology...CANCER! Of course they are. Maybe he can get extra credit by bringing in my pathology reports...God knows he could use it...