Treatment Update – Radiation and other fun things

I realized that I never did an update with my final pathology from my surgery, it’s only been a couple months (LOL). I’ve been declared clinically NED (no evidence of disease) it is very rare for anyone to hear they are truly cancer free so we are SUPER happy with NED. This is so totally, blow through the roof PRAISE worthy!!

My surgery went very well, a total of 8 lymph nodes were taken, dissected, and then sent for further more intense dissection. A teeny tiny bit of cancer was found in one node. The evidence is strong that all of the cancer has left the building so to speak but I will be doing some follow-up meds (all part of the original plan). My breast surgeon (the fabulous Dr Heather King) did a great job and is very happy with the results. My plastic surgeon (the rather hilarious Dr Alex Cech) thinks I might be his best work, note the “rather hilarious” designation. But seriously all signs point to killer LOOKING (not acting) boobs in the future.

I’ll be continuing Herceptin for a few more months (1yr total) and I’ve begun taking Tamoxofin. Both are geared at lowering the risk of recurrence of my type of cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma; triple positive; email me or Google it if you want more deets).  I’m also participating in a trial that is comparing Herceptin to another chemo drug, Kadcyla.  This drug has been approved for treatment in later staged breast cancer patients and they are looking to see if it will benefit earlier staged patients as well.  I have been randomized to the herceptin arm of the study so there is no change in my treatment, just some more ‘work’ to do with blood draws and surveys.  I am glad to know that my case and experience will help to inform and improve treatment for future patients.

My surgeon presented my case to the Hartford Hospital tumor board in mid-September and the overwhelming response was that I should go through radiation.  As in, there were over 30 Doctors at the meeting, of differing specialties, and they all agreed that radiation was the best course for me to take.  We met with my Radiation Oncologist (Dr Bersch) and she said that the radiation will change my risk of recurrence from 12-25% to less than 10%.  Needless to say I’m not happy about needing radiation but I am happy to hear that at least it will benefit me in the long run.  I began radiation on Weds 12/10, I will have 28 doses, this will basically run every day (M-F) for about 6 weeks.  I do get a few days off around Christmas and New Year’s so I’m hoping that will help with how I tolerate the radiation.  The key side effects are fatigue and skin issues.  I have almost every kind of oil or lotion known to help with radiation so I am as ready as I can be.

I am on my way to a complete recovery. My oncologist (the AWESOME Dr. Patricia Defusco) is thrilled with what she sees and how I’ve responded to treatment. Thank you all for the prayers, love, and support; I mean, really, not a day goes by that I’m not overwhelmed by the care we are receiving. Matt and I would not be able to do this without this huge host of people that are lifting us up!