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Archive for the tag “turdy the tumor”

What To Do About the Boobs

shehulk1First of all, this round of chemo can kiss my ass. Just in the last couple of days have I been able to eat meals, and it’s time to do chemo again. As each round gets progressively shittier, I will not be surprised if the awful nausea/gross taste lasts the full three weeks between rounds. Pissed and disappointed, but not surprised.

I also have two new side effects:

1. My thumbnails are doing this.

FullSizeRender (5) FullSizeRender (4)Some chemo patients lose their nails entirely. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, but I also thought I might be spared this side effect.

2. Neuropathy. At least I think that’s what this burning itchy feeling is on my hands. It’s not constant, thankfully, but it sometimes wakes me up at night. What freaks me out about this side effect is that it can be permanent.

So that’s the sucky stuff. Here’s the good news: In my last post I fretted about what to do with my boobs. This past week I met with my breast surgeon, Dr. Superman (formerly known as Dr. Boobcutter) and I have a lot more clarity now. He assured me that “cutting everything off” will not statistically improve my survival rate, but if it will give me peace of mind, he will do it. He also, regarding my “one boob that’s a wonder of science and one that’s had three kids” concern, told me that if I had a mastectomy on the right breast, when they did reconstruction they’d do a little perk-up on the left breast and get them as symmetrical as possible. So that made me feel better.

What the plan is, though, is to start with a lumpectomy. On examining the bad boob, Supe was unable to feel any sign of Turdy the tumor! He said he’s “thrilled” with the chemo. So all he’ll have to remove is the little metal clip that Dr. Moviestar put in when he did the original biopsy. He’ll take that plus some surrounding tissue. It will most likely be a small enough amount that while Right Boob will have a scar, it won’t be the ginormous shark bite disfigurement I was imagining.

Turdy melting

The pathologist will examine this tissue and look for any microscopic cancer cells that may have escaped. What we’re looking for are “clean margins” aka no bad cells in the tissue around where Turdy used to live. If the margins aren’t clear, then we may go back and do the mastectomy after all.

Here’s the stinky part: After Dr. Supe consulted with Dr. Cap, they decided that because I have those four bad lymph nodes under my arm, I will also need to have a sentinel node dissection. They are going to–brace yourself–inject a radioactive tracer into my areola. Yes, boys, that’s Nipple City.

sentinelHopefully, I will already be knocked out for the surgery when it’s Tracer Time? Anyway, the tracer will flow to the lymph nodes and Dr. Supe will run a wand with a Geiger counter over my armpit and see which nodes react to the tracer. Those are the nodes that he’ll remove because they are most likely to have cancer cells. It’s a better option than taking all of them out and checking each for cancer. I can’t help but wonder if a radioactive boob will trigger a metamorphosis from part-time bitch into full-time She-Hulk.

I told Dr. Supe that I wanted to do everything possible to prevent a recurrence. And he told me that with HER2+ cancer, the most critical time is the first five years. With other flavors of breast cancer I guess it can come back within 15 years, but with HER2+, as he put it, “If we go five years without a recurrence, you come back to my office and we’ll drink champagne.”

Deal.

So here’s the tentative schedule:

  • Round 4 chemo July 9
  • Round 5 July 30
  • FINAL round of chemo Aug 20!!!
  • Lumpectomy and sentinel node dissection the week of Sept 7
  • Start radiation (5x week for 5-7 weeks is standard) first week of Oct

And then? I should be done.

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Tests and the waiting game

Okay, Tom Petty, you know your stuff. The waiting is the hardest part…at least so far.

The initial diagnosis happened so fast. It was Boom! Lump. Boom! Mammogram and ultrasound. Boom! Biopsy. Boom Boom Hiss! It’s cancer, bitches.

Darth Turdy

Darth Turdy

Just two days after learning I had breast cancer I met with my breast surgeon, Dr. Boobcutter. A week after that I met with my oncologist, Dr. Cappucino. In between and since has been a whole lot of waiting.

What am I waiting for?

  • Genetic testing to see if I carry the breast cancer gene BRCA. Why is this a big deal? Because if I’ve got it, there’s a 30% chance that the cancer will recur. It’s in this case that we start discussing a double mastectomy. Upside: Angelina Jolie reconstruction tits? Downside: All of my relatives and descendants are in jeopardy. My blood was drawn for this on March 12. Dr. Boobcutter said it would be 7 to 10 days.
  • Breast MRI. This will give us a clue as to if Turdy has sent scouts into my lymph nodes. Why is this a big deal? Because if my nodes are clean we can probably just evict Turdy and do a round of radiation. I.e. no chemo. What’s the holdup? My goddamn menstrual cycle. [Editor Me: Yuck, are we really doing this? Writer Me: Are we going for pretty or honest? Editor Me: *sigh* Writer Me: Okay, then.] Because boobs swell and change over the course of the month, they need to pinpoint the MRI between day 7 and day 13 of the cycle. Which means that I’m supposed to call the scheduler when I get my period. So they (Boobcutter, Cappucino, and the MRI peeps) are all waiting for that to happen. And you know how being stressed out about it helps that situation. This may be even more stressful than a teenage broken condom scenario.
  • HER2 Antibodies. The initial test (IDC or immunohistochemistry) came back 2+ or “equivocal,” requiring further testing. The second test (I assume FISH or Fluorescence in-situ Hybridization) was also inconclusive. So apparently they are now running a third test. Why is it a big deal? Because if my cancer has HER2 antibodies it is very aggressive. And I may get chemo prior to surgery (this is called neoadjuvant therapy). If Turdy the Tumor is HER2 negative I may not need chemo at all! So HER2- = maybe chemo HER2+ = Chemo City. Basically, this is a test I want to flunk. HER2-positive cancers are much more likely to recur and the five year survival rate drops significantly. Do not want.

So, really, I’m just sitting around waiting to take tests and to get test results. Except when I went to see It Follows with Gunny last Friday. And spent most of the film checking for messages from Dr. Cappucino’s office because at that point the second HER2 test was already a week late. Halfway through the film I saw a missed call and went into the hall to return it and found out that it would be another week for that pesky HER2 shit. That was scarier than the movie.

I have a new book coming out next week and it’s really hard to give a shit. I want to DO something. I mean besides bingewatch Empire and Bloodline and The Jinx. I want this fucker out of my body.

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