Blood Work and Mammograms and MRI’s OH MY!!!!

“Time for your checkup, time for your checkup!” Ok so I’ve been watching way too much Doc McStuffins. Please forgive me. But seriously it’s that time of year when I am so lucky to not only get my semi annual blood work, but it’s also my annual mammo and Breast MRI time. I never really give any of this much thought as I’m always busy doing “mom” stuff these days. That is until the day of the screening. And then, I’m consumed with the screening itself and more importantly, waiting on the results. Luckily I have a fantastic doctor who phones me as soon as my results are in (for the MRI). But first up is the ever wonderful mammogram.

You see I had one a few months back but could only do one side due to my recent delivery and my desire to breast feed my child. In May I stopped breast feeding and pumping, going exclusively to formula. I was very lucky that the transition was easy on my baby. I struggled a bit but held on to the fact that I made it 4 1/2 months with only one milk-producing breast. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

I had to wait a few months for my hormones to normalize before I could have the mammo. Fast forward those few months and boy was I nervous as I sat in the little cubbyhole changing room waiting for the Radiologists to tell me the results. When I heard those words “all clean”, I sighed. Thank you thank you thank you! I knew the MRI was next up but I would sail into that screening on this positive note. (P.S. 3-D mammograms are now available at most imaging centers. If you are young or have dense breast tissue, I would recommend having this done. Unfortunately, there is a cost associated with this. Check with your center. The Breast Center at AAMC charges $50. I believe it is worth it to get a better image.)

My MRI was much like my mammo in the fact that I was totally fine until I walked into the MRI room. For this scan they hook up a little IV to you so they can run a dye through your bloodstream while taking the images. This contrast dye is suppose to attach itself to abnormal areas which “light up” on the imaging screen. Unlike the mammo, you have to wait until your doctor’s office contacts you with the results. So waiting is the name of the game.

As I said before, I’m lucky to have a doctor who calls me immediately with the results. “Everything looks great”! Music to my ears. Another sigh and more thank you’s!!

Last week was my semi-annual appointment with my oncologist. Before every appointment I go to the lab in the basement at the hospital to have my blood drawn. I had emailed her regarding my blood work and asked if she could add my Thyroid and B-12 to the list. I was a couple weeks overdue to have my thyroid checked as my endocrinologist let me stop taking the meds and told me to wait a few weeks then have it tested to see if I could stay off the medicine all together. Rather than getting stuck twice I wanted to see if I could have it all done there and the results sent to my other doctor. My days of being a human pincushion were long gone! As for my B-12, about 3 months ago I made the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and eggs. I really want to elaborate more on this but I want to do it in a post of its own as I have a lot to say on the topic. However the main concern I had was am I getting enough B-12 now that I don’t eat meat.

Results are in and my levels are all perfect! No more thyroid medication! The only thing that came back of concern is that I am Vitamin D deficient. So I have to take a weekly prescribed dose for the next 3 months and then continue with a daily over the counter dose. I also just need to continue my bi-weekly B-12 dose. I take Deva Nutritional sublingual tablets 2500 mcg. She also made it very clear that exercise is extremely important in keeping recurrence at bay.

I was struggling with exercise as I just couldn’t find the time. But I decided I needed to make the commitment to do it given the importance. I have so much to be thankful for and one amazingly handsome little fella to live for. And wouldn’t you know it, right after I made that commitment, my little boy began sleeping through the night. Now I get 8 hours of sleep and am well rested. I have time to get up, work out and get ready for work all before he gets up in the morning! I’ve also added some mediation in the evenings before I go to sleep. It’s been so helpful with clearing my thoughts and focus.

Life is good. I am beyond blessed. I have to stay focused on the positive. I believe that positivity is the key ingredient to a long happy future. Add in a healthy diet, exercise, rest, friends, family, hope and love and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success!!!

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Results and Follow Ups

My thyroid test was still showing slightly overactive so my doctor referred me to an Endocrinologist for further testing. I will be going for more bloodwork this Friday and a radioactive iodine thyroid uptake and scan. That’s fancy for taking two pills and having my thyroid looked at by a scanner to see if there are any abnormalities. I will return for a follow up with the Endocrinologist next Friday to discuss results. I will also have an appointment with Dr. Tweed since it has been about 4 months since I finished Chemo. Wow, where does the time go!

Yesterday I had my 6 week follow up with Dr Young my Radiation Oncologists. Everything there went well. They want me to have a mammogram done in August and see her again in September. So things are going pretty well. My hair is about 1/2 in long so I’m sporting a super short pixie cut. It’s kind of funny how many compliments I’ve received on it. I do like it and now I know if I want to keep it short or cut it back one day, I can. I’m just going to let it grow for now.

More to follow next week after my appointments. At least after these ones, I will be enjoying the summer with no Dr to see until the end of August!

Results!

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.

Surgery and other tests

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.

My New Normal

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.