Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tests, tests...and more tests


Mood: tired

Test results keep rolling in. I am under great care by terrific people and very caring doctors. They know what they are doing and have expedited my care to get all the tests done necessary before I can look at what treatment I need.

Biopsy results show I have a large tumor on my left side, spreading cancer and cancer in my lymph nodes as well. My cancer is stage 3, metastatic cancer with a grade 3 tumor.

My cancer ha spread into the surrounding tissues and lymph system. Grade 3 means that it is rapidly growing.
My MRI results came back also. It confirms my cancer, but it did show that it has not gone to my right side...good news for now in that regard.  I am still being advised to get my papers in order.  When I say I have young children, the eyes that look at me turn sad with pity.

My HER2neu results are also positive. This test is involved in my prognosis. It looks to see if the cancer cells were invasive carcinoma. Extra protein makes cells grow out of control. If the HER2neu test is “positive” then it means that the cancer cells have too much HER2 receptor protein. The cells are being "fed" and consequently grow and spread.  In this case, they will likely recommend biological therapy as part of my treatment.  I am still learning what all of this means.  I am being handed brochures and booklets.  Everything is very technical and cold.  I've worked in hospitals and seen medical charts when I was a medical social worker.  But now as I am on the other side of the chart, it is all strange to me.  When I think I am done with testing, I am being scheduled for more I have never heard of before.  I am walking through a big city for the first time.  I forgot where I parked, but then my nurse takes my clammy hand into hers and holds on.

On Tuesday, I will go for a Bone Scan and CT. Again they are looking to see how far the cancer has spread.  They warn me that as thorough as these tests will be, there is still a chance something can be missed.  I am told, it  only takes one cancer cell to break away and go somewhere else in my body.  So even if the cancer is not revealed in other parts of my body, because of how rapidly it is growing and how late stage my cancer is, I will still likely receive very aggressive treatments.  I keep hearing "just in case".

My husband and I meet with the team and surgeon on Thursday with all the results. At this point with the information a game plan for treatment will be put together.  I've gone from being a mother and wife, to becoming  a patient.  A cancer patient.  I am unable to wrap my head around this new identity.  The halls of the hospital feel like a labyrinth.  The waiting room smells like old magazines.  I try to joke and smile with the nurses that instruct me in the fashionable ways to tie my hospital gown that is 10 sizes too big.  My humor is my saving grace.  I try to smile, but when I am alone in the changing room before a test is about to begin, I feel my nerves in the pit of my stomach.  Who am I?  What am I doing here?

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