The lab results are in…

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It’s been an anxious two-week wait for the pathology results following surgery. The tissue that was removed during my mastectomy has been analysed in the lab, and the results give the oncologists more information about the type of tumour and how it was affected by the chemotherapy.

I think of it as a cancer crime scene: the tumour and chemotherapy leave a bloody trail of evidence that is picked apart by forensic experts. But possibly I’ve just watched too much Dexter/CSI/Silent Witness.

Anyway, yesterday I met with my surgeon for the unveiling of both the pathology results and my reconstructed boob. It was a big day.

So, boob first: surprisingly, the new fake boob (foob) looks almost exactly like the old one, thanks to a nipple-sparing reconstruction. But it’s almost completely numb. The sensation is similar to how your mouth feels after a trip to the dentist for a filling. But since the foob does nothing but sit in a bra all day and isn’t required to eat food or hold a conversation, this is manageable.

Pathology: I already knew from earlier biopsies that my tumour is ER/PR/HER2-positive, meaning I’ll need to continue with herceptin injections every three weeks until January, and will take Tamoxifen tablets for ten years. But the pathology also showed that the tumour has responded to chemotherapy, and there was only 4mm left – a sizeable reduction from the original 27mm. So the chemo misery of the past six months has been worth it. Yay!

However, without a complete response (i.e. all the tumour gone), I will now need radiotherapy. Bollocks.

Radiotherapy, the next step in this gruelling process, will start in 2-3 weeks. There really is no rest for the wicked. But despite this, Pete and I left the consultation room feeling relieved because “it could have been much worse”. And, as Pete pointed out, when being told you need radiotherapy passes as good news, you realise how relentlessly rubbish living in ‘cancer world’ can be.

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9 thoughts on “The lab results are in…

  1. I should introduce you to my mum Sally. She has just had to have a new boob but she had enough belly for them to take that and make a bold out of it. A tummy boob, toob if you like. She got her pathology back and there was an extra lump they hadn’t known about so yay for mastectomy in that case! Really great news about your tumour shrinkage though. She had radiotherapy a couple of years ago too if you ever wanted to chat hot boobs!

    Anyway, all the best and good luck with the radio/drugs x

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  2. If you had radiotherapy for your sarcoma you will know this, but if not it’s worth bearing in mind – it truly is a long, hard marathon of one day at a time. Starts off real easy, gets hard, get fucking grim, you hit The Wall, you fight to carry on…but finally it is over. So pace yourself, don’t go manic in the first couple of weeks with frenzied activity just because you can. Make yourself have a rest after each treatment from day one – you’ll soon enough be needing it. I gave myself a treat after the end of each week to mark a stage ended – seemed to help. I also found – bit weird maybe – that having a totally detailed precise routine for each day of treatment from first thing in the morning to last thing at night helped keep me going, analogous perhaps to the steady unrelenting pace of the marathon runner – left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, on and on and on to the end. Worked for me, might not for you.

    Finally – they should tell you this – it isn’t over when it stops. It takes about two weeks on average after the end of treatment for the effect of the radiation to begin to subside. So don’t plan a mountain hike to celebrate the last day. Give it a while.

    All the best. Good luck and God speed.

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  3. My wife is 53 she had 2yrs on Tamoxifen & now had 3 on Letrozole. Tamoxifen only pre menopausal. I was eventually entrusted to administer the Herceptin jabs too when nurses changed almost daily. She’s in a local breast cancer support group so she befriends new patients too. Your loved ones can do the cheering up we followers will have to settle for just cheering. ☺

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  4. All in all pretty decent news: tiny, by comparison, tumour & not too much reported discomfort. You were anticipating radiotherapy because even if tumour had ‘virtually’ disappeared oncologist would have wanted a clean up for the bits you can’t see. Here’s hoping for a side effect free radiotherapy stint for you. Twenty sessions? Then tamoxifen to menopause: all our best wishes.

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