I sit here so excited to write that my 6 rounds of chemo are DONE!!! Honestly, the past almost 18 weeks have seemed to fly by. I was prepared to be really sick after each treatment but God was gracious and my side effects were minimal. Sure, I had some nausea and my overall energy level is lower (and I had some side effects that I won’t mention b/c they’re personal) but it was not NEARLY as bad as it could have been. I attribute that to God and my diet/supplements. I do plan to write a separate post on my nutrition soon…I promise!
So today we started the next chapter in my cancer journey. We met with my surgeon to discuss surgery options. I was originally assigned to a different surgeon but I fired him (more on that later) and requested this Dr. instead. I went into this appointment requesting prayer for peace, wisdom, and discernment that surgery (specifically a bilateral mastectomy) is the right choice for me & God answered that prayer in a HUGE way!
One of my biggest concerns with this surgery is that my former surgeon wanted to do a complete axially lymph node dissection and I had an uneasy feeling about it (much like I did the radiation). My surgeon today told me that he feels he may not need to touch the lymphatic system at all. He explained that the reason they take the lymph system during surgery if any nodes are involved (about 4 of mine were according to the PET scan), for staging, and to keep the cancer from spreading before chemo starts. Well, they are assuming mine already spread, I’m staged 4, AND I’ve started and finished chemo so he doesn’t feel the risks (lymphedema) justify removing an important system in my body. He will consult with the hospital’s tumor board on Wed. to see what the other specialists think. This will depend on what the PET scan shows before the surgery too. If it still shows activity in the lymph nodes, then they will probably take those nodes but if it does not, hopefully all my lymph nodes will stay put!
I was also happy to hear him say there isn’t a RUSH to perform the surgery. He explained that the chemo stays in my body, working for 6-8 weeks after my last treatment so there is no need to rush into surgery, especially while my immune system is still “compromised.” We will set a date when I meet with my plastic surgeon next Monday but tentatively we are looking at the last week or two in June (also what I was hoping for).
He performed an exam and was not able to find ANY of my 3 tumors or the lymph node that had been enlarged and he was very optimistic about the response I’ve had to the chemo. He even suggested that the “suspected” metastasis was simply that….suspected….and could just have been inflammation (my radiologist suggested the same thing). I know it still very well could have been metastasis but it’s nice to hear from professionals that they don’t KNOW for sure and are trying to make the best decisions for me….taking ALL the risks and benefits into consideration.
So the game plan is a follow up mamaogram and ultrasound of my breasts on June 2nd, a full body PET scan before surgery, bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction at the end of June, and then a final surgery to place implants later in the summer. I plan to work with a naturopathic oncologist to help my body detox and heal from the chemo and if there is any cancer left, to try to knock the rest of it out naturally.
I received more good news while I was at the hospital as well!!! My cardiologist reviewed my latest echocardiogram (my 3 month follow up echo showed “heart failure” due to my antibody meds so they stopped those meds and did another echocardiogram that was more precise) showed NO heart failure AND she felt the previous echo was done improperly, leading to and incorrect diagnosis!!! I’m going back tomorrow to have my last round of perjeta and one more round of herceptin (both of which target the “aggressive” HER2+ part of the cancer) and I can continue the herceptin after I’ve healed from surgery!!!!
So as I enter this part of my cancer journey, I have total peace that this is where I need to be, what I need to do, and that God is SO AMAZINGLY IN CONTROL! He has guided every step, every decision, and I am amazed at His goodness. My prayer request right now is that the PET scan would come back clear with no detectable cancer (I know it’s a huge request but it’s not too big for God).
My favorite song right now is “Diamonds” by Hawk Nelson. It just so completely encompasses where I am right now! The pressure is on and God is making diamonds out of the dust of my life! I encourage you to give it a listen.