Ellen update 08/18/06

Hi there! It’s time for more news from the trenches. Hold on to your seats, rated I for Ick due to graphic descriptions of exciting facets of my current life.

I am finally feeling pretty much all better from the surgery 3 weeks ago, though my breast still hurts. I am back to normal activity level as of Wednesday or so. But!

After the lumpectomy etc. 3 weeks ago, the pathologists reported that 2 margins of the excision were not clean. Now, these were not the edges of the main piece of me my cheery surgeon, Donna Pietrocola, removed, but 2 outside edges of the extra 6 slices she took out after she removed the main block of tissue. Who knew they did it like this? It’s like cutting the mold off cheese. Anyway, 2 outside edges were not clear of cancer cells–1 had regular bad cancer cells and 1 showed DCIS & LCIS (ductal & lobular carcinoma in situ, non-invasive-yet and non-invasive cancer). So there’s a bit more in there and therefore off I go for a re-excision (more slices) tomorrow AM at 8:30. Needing re-excision is apparently not all all uncommon–happens 40% of the time?

I will be recovering from that for a few days, though the surgeon says it should be quicker than last time for various reasons (less extensive, immunological response to trauma already in place from before).

The 10 cells I reported were found just outside one sentinel lymph node in the earlier surgery (the sentinel lymph node biopsy part of the three-part surgery) became 10-20 cells in the final pathology report, but were measured and classed as “sub-microscopic” disease, thus of no clinical significance. So, if I understand correctly, I am “node negative” which is very good. Possibly the best news there’s been in this whole business so far.

That makes this cancer Stage IIa based on tumor size (over 2 cm.) and node status (negative). Last time I was stage I–tumor was smaller.

This one was classed as very aggressive, though. It scored a 9 out of 9 on the aggressiveness scale…I always was an overachiever.

We still haven’t heard about hormone-receptor status or HER2 status, but should soon. That will dictate some chemotherapy options. We’re meeting with the oncologist on Wednesday and hoping for some decisions then. I will probably start chemo sometime in the first week of September.

My hair is shorter and going to get even shorter (when else will I be brave enough to try a buzz cut?). Send fun bandannas, the boys are into pirates right now and I am going to take advantage! 🙂

Monday I had a bone scan and a CT scan at Albany Med. I continue to be impressed with how that place is run. I have not had to wait more than 5 minutes for any appointment yet! Even the doctors’ offices. However, 16 oz. of barium sulfate drink labeled “Berry Smoothie” is not my idea of fun. Tasted like a milkshake made entirely of Tums. The results on that should be available by Wednesday, or maybe via my surgeon tomorrow–not sure. If I write her a note on my belly maybe she’ll see it during surgery and reply.

That’s it for now–thanks for thinking of me!