Yeah, so, I’ve got some good news, and I’ve got some bad news.
Let’s start with the good news, because that’s more fun, and we like fun. My recovery is going very well. I have already had one drain removed, and I’m resting a lot with the hopes of getting the final drain removed this week. I feel good. I’m impatient. I want the drain removed, but I know that I’m on the road to recovery. A good patient needs patience. Also, I got my final pathology report, and the cancer has not spread. Great news!
The bad news is after removing all my breast tissue, the doctors discovered more cancer than was expected. Originally, they thought there was about 1 cm of invasive ductal carcinoma, grade two. Instead they found 1.9 cm of invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 3. They also found 4 (!) cm of ductal carcinoma in situ, grade three. Stupid boob. Doesn’t it know that I hate surprises?
So, this is kinda scary stuff. Considering that I was on tamoxifen, which is supposed to prevent estrogen-positive cancer from occurring, and I still got this estrogen-positive cancer, the doctors think we need an aggressive treatment to prevent re-occurrence. So, the doctors are recommending chemotherapy as a preventive measure.
I was in complete shock when the doctor told me that I needed to do this. I was under the impression that since the lymph nodes were clean I was good to go, just like last time. I guess it doesn’t work that way. I could say no to chemo, and I could be totally fine. I could also be back in another five years with an even more aggressive cancer that maybe could have been prevented if I had said yes to chemo. Of course, I could be back in five years with cancer even though I did chemo. Cancer is an asshole who doesn’t play by the rules. I fuckin’ hate that guy.
The oncologist said, “There is a possibility that we are over-treating you, but I think we need to do this. It’s better to be safe than sorry.” The doctors are concerned because if I got this cancer while on tamoxifen (and I’ve tested negative for the breast cancer gene) that means it’s aggressive. And while there are no signs that the cancer has spread, we need to do everything we can to make sure it doesn’t come back.
I second that emotion. I don’t want cancer to come back. It is not welcome. It is not invited.
I can live with six months of exhaustion, nausea and the possibility of losing my hair for an increased chance a long life with my family and friends.
OK, so, let’s focus on the positive here: I do not have cancer anymore! Actually, let’s put that statement in bold. I do not have cancer anymore. There. That’s better. Chemotherapy is an insurance policy, and while it totally sucks, I know I can do this. I’ve got an amazing support system. I have been truly, deeply touched by all the support through this whole ordeal. And I know that everyone has got my back for another six months of this shit, because they are awesome people.
I am so lucky. It’s important to remember that I’m already OK. A lot of people do chemo, and they have cancer and don’t know if the chemo will even work. I’m already cancer free! I’m already winning, so suck on that, cancer, you cheatin’ bastard. I have medical benefits that will pay for this. I have so much support for family, friends and coworkers. I may not feel lucky when I’m going through chemo, but I am lucky.
I’m feeling very positive that this is the right course of action. I’m investigating cold caps to help me keep my hair (I pay a lot of money for my red hair, and I would love to keep it), and I’m investigating fabulous wigs just in case the cold caps don’t work. I’ll get an orange wig for San Francisco Giants game days.
Funny story about the cold caps. We had never heard of cold capping until my breast surgeon mentioned it.
Doctor: “You could get one of those cold caps.”
David: “Cold cats?”
Me: “Oh, how I wish it was a cold cat. I would love to wear a cold cat on my head.”
If cold cats were a thing, I’m sure I would have read about it on Buzzfeed: 32 Adorable Cold Cats That Save Your Hair During Chemo.
My sister, Michelle, went with us to hear the final results, which was great, because Michelle and I tend to process news like this quickly. We hear the news, and immediately we start coming up with a plan. “OK, so, chemo is next. So we need to do this and this and this.” It’s how we deal with things. We talk and plan, and then we cry a little and say, “This is scary,” and then we plan some more and then we eat. David, on the other hand, needs more time to think about it. He goes inside his head for a little while, so it’s good that Michelle was there to immediately start talking it out.
I’m talking with my oncologist tomorrow about the details. It sounds like it’s a six-month process. He wants to start in early February, but I want to push that back to early March. I just had a mastectomy. I would like some time to heal and feel relatively normal again before diving into this whole chemo thing. Since chemo is an insurance policy, I imagine it can wait a few weeks. I would like to play with my boy, and I need some time to get things organized the way I like it. Also, SF Beer Week is in February, you guys. I already have tickets to the Opening Night Gala, and I’m not missing it. Priorities.
Thank you for all your support. I appreciate the emails and tweets. I will try very hard to make sure this blog doesn’t turn into The Chemo Show. But, if you have any helpful chemo tips for me, please feel free to share them in the comments. I really don’t know what to expect.