By Tanya Dodd-Hise
One week out from surgery. The pain is intense; the drains are annoying as hell. My post-op appointment with my surgeon is today, and I am SO hoping that she will remove at least one of the drains today.
We get to my appointment right on time, and are taken back right away, as usual. She starts off by telling me that I am actually and officially only a stage 2 with my cancer; and based on the number of lymph nodes affected (9 out of 15), I was actually a 2a. Initially, just after surgery, she had thought that based on the size of the tumor that she took out, I would for sure be a stage 3, which is what she told me in the hospital – thus upsetting me greatly before I was ready to go home. But when I went in for this appointment, she told me right off that she had been mistaken, and I was truly only a stage 2. She said that her first statement was based on the size of the tumor, and that it appeared to be 4 cm upon initial examination in the operating room. The lab returned a result that it was actually 3.5 cm, and therefore only a stage 2. I was VERY grateful for her error in judgment! But this also told us that it had grown quite a bit, in quite a short period of time. When I found it, my doctor estimated its size to be 2-2.5 cm. The mammograms and ultrasounds measured it at 2.76 cm, just two weeks later. The biopsies measured this tumor at 2.8 cm, and the final lab results after removal show 3.5 cm. This is at least a full centimeter growth in less than six weeks! She then went on to tell me that she got all of the cancer, to the best of her knowledge, but she suspected that the oncologist would want further body scans and brain scans, to make sure it hadn’t spread to other parts of my body (since it was so aggressive and fast growing). I pray that the fact that it was fast growing says that it had not been there long when I found it. I then got her to take out the right drain, which was heavenly; but she said I would have to wait a few days longer for the left drain.
While on our way to my post-op appointment with the surgeon, I got a call from Texas Oncology – Carrollton. I made an appointment for my consultation with Dr. Enrique Perez for Friday, April 19th. The very nice lady, Roxann, emailed me new patient paperwork so I could be efficient and ready upon arrival. When Friday arrived, we went to lunch beforehand at one of favorite restaurants – Misto Bistro – run by one of my favorite friends, Janet. We have been friends for a while now, and I have worked with her doing catering (which I love); but our friendship has gone to a whole other level in the past several months, and she is even more special to me than before. After lunch, we headed to Texas Oncology of Carrollton, where I met the chick who will be my supercool nurse, Amy. I was ushered into a room, where I was asked a series of questions that I had already answered on all of the forms that I had previously filled out. Soon, we were being introduced to Dr. Perez – a very nice and very tall man with a wonderful disposition and bedside manner. He was able to put me to ease by anticipating my questions and answering them before I even got a chance to ask them. I told him that my genetics testing came back negative, and my hormone receptor testing came back as a triple negative – triple negative for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2. So now what? I am negative for everything. “What does that mean for me??” I asked the doctor. It basically means that it is harder to treat; but we are going to fight and we are going to do everything that we need to do to keep me alive. Well alright. That’s what I need to hear.
Dr. Perez went on to tell me that he wants me to have a PET scan, a CT scan, and an echocardiogram before starting chemo. He also said for me to go ahead and have the port put in, while I am waiting to start and waiting for my scars to heal. He explained that based on all of my negative results, he was going to do a certain course of drugs (which I can’t remember the names – except that one is the evil red one that I have read about) for four rounds, three weeks apart. The first four rounds will be two drugs together. After that I will do another four rounds, three weeks apart, of a third drug. He said that I WILL lose my hair, and other side effects could include diarrhea. Yay.
Three days later I was back in Dr. Garner’s office to get my left drain out (FINALLY, thank God!). I went over my oncologist visit with her, and we scheduled my outpatient surgery for the port placement. It would be a couple of days later, on Wednesday morning, and she assured me that it was nothing…a breeze. This procedure would be a walk in the park compared to the mastectomies.
So I guess here we go. No looking back. Part one is done. And as hard as it has been in the two weeks post surgery, I don’t think it will be anything compared to what is coming with six months of chemotherapy.
Guess we will see.