Saturday, July 19, 2008

If I Only Had the Nerve

July 2

I have no idea where to start. My internist gives me a name of an oncologist, but I haven't been overly impressed with local doctors.

My co-worker, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, shares with me what she found at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Virginia Mason. I had already looked at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue and thought it might be the place I’d like to go. The commute over I405 to Bellevue can be a nightmare sometimes. Which way to go, Joe?

I like the idea of the team concept at Virginia Mason and started the scheduling and testing journey with them. The Breast Cancer Nurse Coordinator is fantastic! I need to get an MRI and blood work done and the Coordinator schedules me for July 15 to meet with three doctors – medical oncologist, surgeon and radiation oncologist. I ask for a copy of the pathology report from the biopsy. The results:

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma
Modified Bloom-Richardson Grade: 3/3 (highest it can get)
Estrogen Receptor: Negative (ER-)
Progesterone Receptor Negative (PR-)
HER-2 NEU: Negative

I am a Triple Negative with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. We now know what we are dealing with – we think. Vic starts researching; I try to, but the information sets me over the edge. I can’t sleep and I can’t stop crying. I am so scared.

It is still a tearful time for me, not just for myself but for Vic. Seeing my very healthy and active husband become sluggish and ill due to the tumor and his medications has been hard. Vic is taking everything in stride and I thank God for a level-headed man! Heaven knows we don't need two of us in this house freaking out.

Our days consist of going to work, finding something to eat when we get home in the evening, and then researching the Internet, going to bed and repeating. Rather like washing the hair - lather, rinse, repeat.

Actually, Vic is researching on breast cancer and I am in denial playing computer games . I haven't moved past the crying yet, but I know how important it is for both of us to be educated on treatments.

I asked for HRT last year because of menopause symptoms. The HRT kicked me into 9 months of “painless” migraines with epilepsy like features. Now, the vanity of not wanting thin hair and dry skin has caused BC? I decide to quit HRT immediately. Reading about it later, I should have tapered off. Quitting cold turkey can make your menopausal symptoms much worse than when you started HRT. My emotions go into over-drive.

Vic goes to the hospital early August at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle (the place he works!). He'll be in ICU after the surgery - because of the blood pressure up and down that is affected by the adrenal gland and the pre-surgery medications.

How long he will be in the hospital depends on the technique they end up doing. Could be 4-6 days. We are praying for laparoscopy, which the doctor will start with first. The doctor won't know if he needs to go to a full operation until after Vic is in the operating room.

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