A few months back I had the pleasure of being interviewed for the AAMC Blog. I was then contacted by their media personnel who wanted to conduct a photo shoot as my interview would be featured in the upcoming fall edition of the AAMC Magazine. What an honor! Not to mention the shoot was a lot of fun. At the beginning of September I was informed that the magazine would be coming out at the end of the month. They also sent me a preview pdf copy. Imagine my surprise when I opened up the attachment and found not only the article, but I had been selected for the cover!!!! Holy Cow!! Very exciting news indeed. Since the magazine has come out, I have been stopped numerous times by not only co-workers and friends, but complete strangers. And each time they have told me what an inspiration me and my story are to others. This is by far the most amazing compliment I could ever receive. The fact that somewhere my story is making a difference to someone is the reason why I am an open book and will continue to tell my story to anyone that will listen. Here is the link to the article and I’ve included a copy of the photo and article as well.
So we finally got the call from the dr. First the left side showed nothing but fibrocystic tissue. No masses or anything suspicious. That is one piece of good news. We’ll take it. Second my chest X-ray, blood work and bone scan all came back clean with the exception of my vitamin D which shows I am deficient. Something my doctor says we will tackle after treatment. Now for the big results. All the invasive cancer has been removed! The tumor is gone.
However there is one margin of tissue around the tumor that didn’t have a clear enough edge which my surgeon is not pleased with. This means another surgery to re-excise that area to get the clear margin. Not to bad. But the best news I saved for last. My nodes tested negative! This is huge. Bigger then I can comprehend says my dr. I’m beyond happy with this. And I think for the first time Chris can breath a sigh of relief knowing I’m not going anywhere.
My MRI results came back and they are showing a suspicious area on my left breast area. Oh joy. But first things first, surgery. On September 13th I had my lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy. This should remove the tumor and remove the first two lymph nodes so the can see if the cancer has spread. This will all decide if I’m still at stage 1 or if we are dealing with a whole other set of rules.
While waiting for my results which will take a couple days, I have to have an X-ray of my chest to check my lungs, more blood work, and a full body scan. These are all tests that aid in staging the cancer as well. I also have to go and have the left side checked out. This means a mammogram and an ultrasound. If they locate something then another core needle biopsy to be sure. I’ve been told that mri’s sometimes give false positive results especially in the area of the breast because the tissue is dense. Sure hoping there is nothing to worry about. We could definitely use good news.
In addition to talks of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy and reconstructive surgery I had another important issue to tackle. Since one of the possible side effects of Chemotherapy is early menopause, we also decided to meet with a fertility doctor to discuss our options.
After receiving all the information we decided to proceed with the egg retrieval process of IVF. We will be working with Shady Grove Fertility. This involves about 7-10 days of giving myself shots and having daily appointments for blood work and ultrasound. Once the eggs are at a desirable size, I go in for a minor surgery to have them extracted and frozen. All in all its a really wonderful reassuring feeling knowing we can still have a baby when all this treatment is said and done.
Next stop surgery then our first meeting with my oncologist to discuss my chemo schedule. Time to get down to business. First things first, I am in need of a nap. So much information.
Doctors appointments. Everyday practically. First stop meeting with the surgeon. Dr. Tafra was the surgeon I selected. Chris and I met with her to discuss my diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan. I have Infiltrated Ductal Carcinoma, Stage 1 Grade III, Triple Negative Tumor. Ok, so stage 1. It can’t be too bad? I mean a lumpectomy and maybe some radiation. I’ll be good to go in a couple weeks, right? Wrong. The key word or words in my diagnosis are Grade III and Triple Negative. The staging has to do with the size of the tumor and how far it has spread. So for right now (yes it could change) its a 1. The grade shows how rapidly the cells change. Grade III is aggressive. Great. Triple negative means that it tested negative for the three main hormones that usually fuel cancer growth. In a nutshell, they don’t know what fuels it.
And because of these two lovely things my doctor utters the words I’ve been dreading to hear. Chemotherapy.
As I drove home in hysterics, calling Chris to tell him to come home from work, I was in a complete state of shock. When I pulled into the driveway the wave of emotions exploded. How could I have Cancer? This couldn’t be happening. WHY was this happening to me? I lost my son for Christ’s sake. Hadn’t we been through enough? (somehow I believed that since Cameron had been taken from us too soon, Chris and I were I exempt from having to endure any further heartache in life).
I finally pulled it together enough to call The Breast Center and make an appointment with the surgeon. They were understanding and set up an appointment for me right after our vacation. I was given strict instructions to try and enjoy myself while away. Yeah, ok. I’ll see what I can do.
On August 21st I went to AAMC Breast Center in Annapolis to have them check out the lump I found in my right breast. After a mammogram and ultrasound the radiologist was pretty convinced the mass was a Fibroadenoma. But decided just to be sure they wanted a biopsy. So the next day I had the core needle biopsy done. This radiologist said the same thing. Looks like fibroadenoma. Results would be back in about 48 hours. So on Friday, as usual,I did my running around of errands. Prepping for our vacation to Ocean City, MD. On my way back from the post office I realized I had a missed call from the hospital. Finally! Now I can relax and enjoy my vacation! I called the doctor back and he said “Hi Amber. I’m really sorry. I wish I had better news for you. The pathology report shows it is in fact CANCER.”
I’m sorry doctor……can you repeat that?