As I told most of you who may have read my blog, well, I did indeed pick up my pathology results. Reading them was different for me since my specialization is NOT cancer - rather Kinesiology and Anatomy. So, I had to rummage through old textbooks and online forums to figure out what I was dealing with. SO HERE IS THE RUN DOWN FOLKS.
My cancer is positive for estrogen and progesterone. This means that my cancer is basically fueled by these two hormones. Yes, the natural hormones we make can bitch slap you in the face when it comes to cancer. For me, the progesterone factor was stronger than the estrogen, but either way they are both positive. So hormone therapy may be an option for me as far as treatments are concerned. Roughly 65% of females have positive markers for both hormones.
Proliferation Rates - wondering what that is? Basically, it is the rate at which your cancer is replicating or growing. For most, you want this to be low, around 10%. Anything over 20% is considered high. WELL - in my case I am sitting at Ki67 staining percentage at 50%. This is not a good sign, it basically means the tumor cells are dividing at a very fast rate. I knew this damn thing was growing bigger and more annoying.
The type of cancer I have is called Invasive Ductal Carcinoma which is the most common among females. For me, my cancer has apocrine features. What the hell is this you ask? WELL - you know your sweat glands? Well Apocrine comes from the same name so my breast cancer has those types of features (weird right?) It is rare to have this sub-type of cancer from what I understand, but it is important to know what your cancer looks like under a microscope. When you read your own pathology results (which hopefully YOU NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS) you will see a section on how your cancer features under a microscope.
Next is the Nottingham histologic grade. I am not going to go into details on this because there are SEVERAL factors that go into this number. There are 3 total grades: Grade 1 has a score of 3-5, Grade 2 has a score of 6-7, and Grade 3 has a score of 8-9, This grade system shows the cancer's aggressive potential in your body. Unfortunately for me, my score was an 8/9. So I am at grade 3. My cancer is aggressive - like me.
Now for some good news! Luckily they did catch my cancer in enough time that it has not reached 2 cm yet. What this means is I am at Stage 1 cancer. This is great news in that the survivability rate at stage one is very high. Even with all the bad news sort of rolled up - this was the one thing I was thankful to find as a ray of light - oddly.
In summary, yes I have an aggressive form of cancer that has a high chance of metastasizing, but the good news is, it is in stage 1 so my hope is that I respond well to chemotherapy and the antibody herceptin - which has been proven to block the HER2 receptors that cause replication of cancer cells. The combination of chemo, herceptin, and surgery have been highly successful in breast cancer patients - So let us hope this works for me as well. The waiting game is really the roughest part of ALL OF THIS BULLSHIT. Seriously, things do not move quickly when you have cancer - from the support groups I have encountered it can be a shit load of waiting.
My MRI is schedule for May 25th. This will give the doctors an idea of my cancer and if it spread. One thing I will say is I am having a hard time eating food. My stomach has been so messed up that eating is a constant battle. The cramps in my upper belly have been just, ugh, I have no words to actually describe the kind of discomfort I have been feeling. PLUS I have been having breast pain and pain in the lymphatic duct in my left armpit (lovely right?)
My hope is that those of you reading this will learn a little something about how this process all works. It isn't easy by any means of the imagination. It is a lot of research and powering through some of the bullshit you may encounter with doctors that have zero empathy for your situation. I am not saying all physicians are this way (maybe just about 90% in Vegas are), but you may have to really make your point in order to be heard. Don't allow them to shut you up. I guess a part of me is writing this blog to allow others to understand their situation if they are in a similar spot, and how to fight when some doctor's believe you are WAY to young to have cancer and you are just a hypochondriac or drug-seeker when these things DO NOT DEFINE YOU.
Please remember, if you ever feel an abnormality - DO NOT LEAVE IT. Force a damn doctor to listen to you and what you have to say. If they don't - find another physician that will. This is YOUR LIFE we are talking about. You are important and don't let ANYONE allow you to feel otherwise.
For me - it's 2 weeks of waiting - so more than likely the husband and I are going to road trip for a little bit to get my mind off all of this. I mean, i should probably say that the word "cancer" is constantly sticking to the back of your head, but visiting friends and family can help ease some of the worry. Let's just hope I can hold down food during the process, right?
UNTIL next time - thanks for reading. I wish you all nothing but happiness and love. If you are going through some shit, remember someone else is going through something worse. This is what I try to tell myself - some people have it way worse than I do.