Friday, May 16, 2008

New vocabulary

My cousin Laurie said that we shouldn't have to learn any more big words after we have our diploma, but apparently my doctors think otherwise. Yesterday was a big day. Jason and I met with the radiologist oncologist yesterday and here's what we found out.

What we know: It's breast cancer. For those who like data and speak cancer-lingo, I have a 1.8 cm tumor behind my left nipple. Once they showed us where it is, we could feel it. There is a possible second tumor in the same breast, but a test is being done to see if it's actually a tumor or if it's nothing. We'll know that answer on Monday/Tuesday. The size of my tumor would put me in the Stage 1 category, but apparently you automatically get a bonus stage if it has spread anywhere, which mine had (to the lymph node they took out on Monday), so I'm in Stage II. There are four or five stages... I forget.

What will happen: Ready? This is the new vocabulary part I referred to earlier. We definitely know that there will be surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

What we don't know yet: We don't yet know the order of the treatments. We don't yet know whether I'll have a lumpectomy (just take out the tumor behind my nipple) or a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). That decision is based on whether this second something in my breast is a tumor. If it is, the whole breast goes. If it is nothing, probably a lumpectomy. Also, either way, they are also going to remove all the lymph nodes under my left arm, just as a precaution to keep it from recurring.

The good news: A wonderful woman at Washington University who helped to hire me happens to have strong connections to Siteman Cancer Center here in STL. This is an amazing cancer facility. Pam (the wonderful woman) called me yesterday to tell me that she made a call on my behalf and the DIRECTOR of Siteman Cancer Center will be seeing me personally on Tuesday. So, if you all have a free minute, please say a quick prayer of appreciation for Pam, ok? I can't tell you how moved we all have been at her dedication to helping me find the best care possible.

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