Update: Spoke to an oncology nurse last night about the pathology report. It turns out I interpreted it correctly... not in lymph nodes yet. Woot Woot!!
We are in good spirits this evening.
Today started out pretty great. My best friend and her sister were coming over. The sister is a cosmetologist and is a fantastic person to have in your corner. She knew I was feeling 'blah' from the other day so she was coming over to do a makeover on me this morning.
This is the after picture, I have no before.
What better way to spend a day than have 2 girls you love fussing over your hair and doing your makeup for you? Then, just as we were done, the phone rings. It's the doctor's office.
They have the results. I need to sit.
"I'll be right over" I say. Nope, apparently that won't work because my doctor already left for the day today. Would I be willing to just wait until tomorrow?
I ask them if they can fax the results to the nearest care clinic and I will go in and have the doctor on call read the results to me. They agree to it, and I call Brad at work. He will meet me at the care clinic by our house in 15 minutes - even though he technically works 25 minutes away.
When I get to the care clinic, I go into the examining room alone but I am expecting Brad there any second so I start pacing around. I don't want him to miss this. I don't want to be alone when I get the results. A minute later I hear him rush in the front door, so I open the door of my little room and flag him down. He starts to run down towards me, then gives me a funny look.
I remember the make over. "Sarah did my make up earlier before I knew we were getting the results". He nods. We go in the room and have time to whisper a bit before the doctor enters. "I thought we were going somewhere after this, you look all done up" - we both nervously laugh.
When the doctor comes in finally, he is so utterly confused. He thinks I'm there for a cold or something because he doesn't mention the results. I lose my patience too quick, and start blabbering about breast cancer, double mastectomies, and pathology results.
'You want a mastectomy?' he is so puzzled. 'No, I've had one already, you have my results'. I point to the clipboard he is holding. 'I just want the results. What are the margins? Has it gone into the lymph nodes?" I keep grilling him.
At one point I think I pull the clipboard out of his hand and look at it. Now I realize he is reading it over my shoulder. This is not how this is supposed to go.
I ask if I can just get the papers photocopied and he agrees and quickly heads out the door. I think he just wanted to get away from me.
The medical assistant gives me my photocopies and I go outside the care clinic and promptly sit down on the curb to read it. I have read so much on staging and margins and lymphatic invasion that I should be able to decipher the gist of it.
I read it out loud, with Brad and Christine listening in. It's actually quite simple to understand, the report is broken down in a lot of detail. I am going to see my surgeon on monday again, when she returns from holiday, and I will go over it with her again, just to make sure I am in fact interpreting it correctly.
But for now, this is what I know:
My right breast measured 26 x 1 x 4 cm in thickness. Hmmm... I never knew that. That is interesting, but useless information to me. I also know that the cancer was quite unfriendly and aggressive, grade III and that it also had a small formation of a new cancer growing beside it. That's right folks, not one but TWO cancer clusters. Bad boob!
The chunk that was taken out of my armpit measured 5 x 4 x2 cm - that's the size of a tennis ball. No wonder my arm is sore. Now I don't feel like a cry baby anymore.
The margins were pretty good. 9 cm on one side showed clear margins, 8 cm on the other side, 4 cm on the other and 1.5 cm on the front side (it was 0.5 cm deep to the skin, which is why I felt it so easily) How lucky is that? If it had been towards the back of the tissue, I never would have felt it.
Let's talk lymph nodes. Sorry if this sounds complicated, I'll try to explain it the best I can. Well, the radioactive needle that they injected in me prior to the surgery helped them find the sentinel lymph nodes (those are one or two nodes, closest to the breast, into which the cancer cells would first drain to if they were to start 'invading' other tissues. Then, in the armpit, there are the 'regular' lymph nodes called axillary lymph nodes) Out of the two sentinel nodes, one showed cancer cells in it, the other one next to it didn't. They took 8 lymph nodes in my armpit out, and they were all cancer free! So the way I understand it, is that the cancer was trying to spread, but didn't quite make it.
I am cautiously optimistic. I will confirm this report with my surgeon on monday and then hopefully get an appointment with an oncologist in the next couple of weeks. He will then let me know when chemotherapy begins.
For now I am going to rest, and try to absorb the news.
I do have a small eentsy weentsy problem with one line in the report though. As they removed my breast and started dissecting it, they felt the need to write this sentence down as the description of my nipple: "There is a nipple immediately lateral to the midline of the skin".
Now maybe I'm being petty, but my version of translation of that is: 'the nipple wasn't quite in the middle of the boob, but just beside it'.
Pfft... Mr. Pathology guy - you try breast feeding 2 children for three years and see where your nipple is.
Talk about kicking a horse when it's down.