I had a great meeting with my oncology radiologist today. I had met him last June at the initial brest clinic appointment and really liked him, and Dr S wanted me to meet with him before we reached our next decision point.
I had the chance to talk first and told him that I was uncomfortable with skipping surgery and leaving any remnants of the tumor inside. He agreed with me. The big decision was whether or not to strip all of the lymph nodes. Dr F prefers to leave them in – there is not much evidence that it will affect the cancer, but the likelihood of severe lymphedema and swelling is high. Instead of the usual very targeted therapy, I will have a more shotgun approach, covering my armpit (where the new tumor is), the breast area where I had my mastectomy, and the next region of lymph nodes above my collarbone. It sounds like I’ll be fast tracked for starting. Like everyone else, Dr F considers my cancer to be exceptionally aggressive and wants to treat it accordingly.
So the decisions are being made and as we hit each decision step we have a clear direction. One of the things that I am really greatful for with my HMO is how wonderfully coordinated my care is. All of my records are centralized and instantly accessible to everyone. The three cancer treatment arms – surgery, medical oncology, and radiology – are in constant contact with each other. This team approach is very comfortable to me. As well, they really have a philosophy of being patient centric and feel that a major part of their role is to make the patient comfortable with what is going on. They are a compassionate bunch of professionals for which I am so grateful.
The chemo is still knocking me on my ass, but I know that it’s temporary and, more importantly, it’s working, so if it means a few months of laying low I can deal with that. Yesterday’s chemo went quickly, but having an afternoon appointment meant that the steroids were later than usual, resulting in it being 5 am before I got to sleep. But hey, my days aren’t so busy that I can’t sleep in or take long naps.
Thanks for all the notes and comments. It’s wonderful how many of you are sharing my journey with me.