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Oncologist... give me options

Episode IX: The Art of Treatment




I made it to the Cancer Institute with less drama than last week, thank goodness! I did my new normal routine: checked in, went to lab for drawing blood, sat outside doctor door, and waited my turn. Today was longer than normal. I was put in Exam Room 1, again, where I waited for almost an hour. However, the oncologist was busy.

Finally, he got to the room and I got good news first:
1. As far as they could tell, the cancer was only in the right breast. It may be in a node or two, but the test did not indicate it. WooHoo - good news!
2. We could finally discuss treatment plan options.


Options I did not take:
1. Full mastectomy, chemo, hormone therapy
2. Lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, hormone therapy


My Treatment Plan:
Chemo, lumpectomy, radiation, hormone therapy


Why did I choose that plan?
I am not getting out of chemo no matter what plan I take. I am too young and the mass too large not to have it. So, that takes care of that.

The idea behind that option was that if chemo was done first we could make sure that it worked right. If it does, the lump will shrink. If not, the medicines can be altered. Also, the chemo will shrink the mass, so the lumpectomy surgery should be less invasive and hopefully require less reconstructive surgery later.

The only drawback I saw was that I might not know what Stage of cancer I had. But I did not care, I want Stage - Gone!


So, what am I really going to do on that plan?
Well of course I am not completely sure, but I am going to have 6 months of Chemotherapy. The toughest part will be the first four treatments. I will go through 3 to 3 1/2 hour treatments on one day, followed the next day with the Neulasta shot. That will happen every other week. Then I will go to a second stage where I have one treatment a week for 3 weeks, with a week off. Of course, they will be scanning and monitoring me to make sure things work right. You never know, but hopefully that plan will remain. The goal was to finish October/November!

After chemo, I will have a Lumpectomy. Then I will begin Radiation treatments, but how many was yet to be determined. Then I will have hormone therapy for 5 years. Yes, years! But, it requires nothing more than a daily pill to help stop the recurrence of cancer.


When does all that craziness start?
I have to get a port put in prior to treatment, so I am off to the hospital Friday. I guess I will have to really face my IV phobia in a new way.

Then I will go next Tuesday, for my first chemo treatment. It will be placed into the port and I plan on playing some Sudoku or reading a book. Then I will go in Wednesday for the shot. Where I will probably go home and have a fuss-fest about how bad I feel and have a small or big this sucks moment. I think I am allowed under the circumstances.


In my head....


Whew! I caught it early. It was good to hear that the cancer seemed isolated to the right breast. And hopefully not in the nodes. Just being at the point to discuss treatment options felt good. Finally, the doctors seemed to be all on the same page. It was knowing and preparing for the fight that seemed most rewarding today. Let us get this started so we can get it over. Hopefully, I might feel more human around the New Year... come on 2014!!!



"In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way." - Yoda



Episode Reference:  The Art of War - Sun Tzu

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