My husband and I met with our Oncologist Monday, and I was surprised how much I was looking forward to the appointment! I don't like not knowing what's next, and now we do...we will start Chemotherapy on Friday, January 20th. I will continue to use "we," because it really is a team situation. My husband and kids, my huge immediate family, my work family, and my wonderful network of friends are all going through this with me! While I don't want any of them to suffer, I know they're there beside me in spirit, and I feel the strength.Now for the nasty news: because my tumor was "triple negative" for hormone receptors, it puts me in a more rare category for therapy (less than 15% of breast cancers are triple negative.) They can't use tamoxifen or any of the hormone blocking chemos, so they are recommending two chemo cocktail options including Taxotere, Cytoxan, and possibly Adriamycin. Adriamycin comes with elevated risks for a couple of scary long term things, so we are trying to decide if the risks outweigh the cancer killing benefits. This is the same regimen recommended by the oncologist who met with us in the multidisciplinary clinic before the surgery.
For the record, my tumor was 1.3 centimeters (Stage one), two lymph nodes were clear, but grade 3 in invasiveness. Add the triple negative fun factor, and they're going to use some "Badass" chemo to get it, no matter what. Dr. Whisenant says I will lose my hair, and likely my eyebrows and eyelashes, but he says many women have been able to work through the fatigue, neuropathy and other side effects.My sister, Toni, went through chemo for a different kind of breast cancer three years ago, and she GAVE me her two wigs while we were home for Christmas. (I say "gave" because I do not want it to be a "loan." I don't want her to ever need them back!) I am already working to find someone who can help me with natural looking eyelashes that I won't have to re-apply every day, and I'll have to practice my eyebrow artwork for a while.
The plan so far is four doses of chemo, one every three weeks. We will meet with the doctor again next Monday, after picking the brains of many others, to make sure we're doing the right thing. We also plan to shoot the first chemo treatment for a news story...gotta do it before my hair is gone! I also think sharing the process helps me feel less helpless, if that makes sense. I don't like waiting or not being able to do anything...so maybe talking about it publicly helps me feel like I'm doing something constructive. Cancer survivors are "talking" with me, and maybe it's a bond that helps both of us get through it all. I'm finding I have more friends than I ever imagined!