Who needs LeBron or Dwyane when you’ve got Marla, Samarth, and Vinay?
Today was a day I waited for with an anticipation I have only reserved in the past for a first date. I couldn’t wait, but I was apprehensive at the same time. Instead of one suitor, my “date” consisted of five people, three women and two men, all of whom had knowledge to share and an investment in my success treating this pesky lobular intruder.
Overall, I can breathe a huge sigh of relief. After speaking to Dr. Samarth Reddy, my medical oncologist, and Dr. Vinay Sharma, my radiation oncologist, it was clear that they agree this is indeed an early stage cancer, caught at the right time.
The MRI I had last Friday the 18th was nothing short of horrific, though. I like to refer to it as an “M-R-I never want to do that again”. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it was early in the morning, I had to fast, and the nurse had to put the IV for the contrast fluid on the back of my hand because it’s typically impossible to find veins in my arm. The test itself took over 30 minutes, and I had to lie face down with my arms over my head on a type of gurney that had a hole for my head and two holes for the “girls” to hang out. The gurney was pushed into a tiny opening into a tiny cylinder inside a huge machine. I had to hold this position for that entire time while the machine made very loud and very unpredictable noises. Here’s a sample if you’re interested:
I was given some headphones to wear and the tech played some “soothing” music one might hear while standing in line at one of the “futuristic” Epcot Center rides back in the 90s. I had no idea how fast or slow time was moving, and I started getting very angsty. My nose started itching. My foot fell asleep… I was about to squeeze the “emergency” button I had been given when the tech spoke to me through the headphones and informed me there was 6 minutes left. She asked if I wanted a change of music, and I screamed, “YES!” She switched the music to classic rock, but I couldn’t tell you what songs were playing because the noise of the machine was too loud. I could, however, tell that there was guitar and rhythm, and I could tell when a song started and ended. So it was halfway into the second song when the torture came to an end.
I am happy to report that the unpleasantries of the MRI were worth it. Today I was able to see the results. Good news! My left breast is clear, the lesions in the right breast are visible and seem on the imaging to be distinct, not connected, and a little bit smaller than the ultrasound had estimated. Most importantly, the scan showed normal lymph nodes, and nothing suspicious in the chest wall or skin. The only thing that Eric had a problem with was a line in the report that stated, “The skin, nipples, and chest wall are unremarkable.” He begs to differ. 😉
We are still waiting for the results of the Mammaprint test and the genetics mutation test, but for now, after the examination and MRI scan, the doctors were optimistic. There’s even a chance I might not need chemotherapy. (WHAT?) That will depend on the Mammaprint results and on whether any nodes come back positive after being taken out during surgery. Tomorrow morning, these doctors will meet with Dr. Dudak and some other specialists on their weekly “Tumor Board” to discuss my case and come up with a recommendation that Dr. Dudak will discuss with me tomorrow. Stay tuned!
The other three women I met with were my nurse navigator Hortensia, who is a breast cancer survivor herself, Dr. Collins, an oncopsychologist, and Nora, a nutritionist. I am lucky to have found myself in the hands of this team. Everyone is professional, kind, and very encouraging. They all know I have done my fair share of reading and homework, so there was no sugar-coating or patronizing, but the information was certainly positive and the outlook from their experience with what I’m dealing with is very good.
Today feels like a slam dunk in the face of cancer.