Faith's Mom

A Mom's battle with breast cancer from a Dad's perpective
Breast Cancer Ribbon

Hocus Pocus

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A long overdue update.

Sue completed her 6th cycle of 6 on January 4th 2013. She is happy to be done with it. The last two cycles were the worst taking the most to tolerate and sucking out any energy she had left afterward. She went through what’s known as TAC chemotherapy that was given every 3 weeks. Her oncologist calls it “Kitchen Sink Chemotherapy” some of the strongest nastiest stuff. So was it all worth it? Let’s look at the pictures.


Mammography before starting Chemotherapy

Mammography before starting Chemotherapy

All the white area in the green circle is the cancerous tumor.


Mammography after Chemotherapy

Mammography after Chemotherapy

Where did it go? What looks like a ribbon is in fact a surgical clip shaped like a ribbon that marks the spot of the tumor that was biopsied when Sue was diagnosed (click on the picture for a better view).

On January 21 we went to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in Basking Ridge, NJ to get a second surgical opinion on what are next step will be. Our first opinion was that now a lumpectomy was a viable option. We are naturally suspicious of the medical field these days and wanted confirmation. The surgeon at MSKCC wanted some more information before she made a decision. While we were there Sue was able to get a Breast MRI which is much more sensitive and can detect cancers that mammo or ultrasound do not. Its use is mostly in high risk patients.  It is also nice to know we were getting the best idea of what we faced before going in surgically. They also wished to redo the mammo on the left breast (the one without a tumor) because they were not satisfied with the images we had provided.

The results. The left breast is fine, the mammo was clear. We did not immediately get the other result. Well at least until we got home and while eating dinner got a call from the surgeon. She was happy to report that both studies could not identify ANY CANCER growth whatsoever.

Great, lets stop now that was enough fun for a lifetime… Nope. Sue will still need to have a lumpectomy and the tissue must be examined microscopically by a pathologist to ensure no cancer cells survived.  The endgame here is not only to prevent localized regrowth but to prevent catastrophic metastatic cancer from occurring.

The Plan

The lumpectomy will be done in a two step procedure each are same-day but will be done on consecutive days.  The first is lymph node testing and excision, then the next day is the lumpectomy.  I really don’t understand the full detail yet but will soon enough. We have elected to have the work done in the city at MSKCC Main campus. They have all the people, equipment, experience and laboratories they need right there on site.  A second to surgical skill will be the pathological examination of the tissue removed to ensure the surgeons margins are clear. Getting a CLEAR with be the measure of success for the procedure. Reconstruction, etc will be addressed after Sue has had healing time and radiation therapy. There is plenty of time for cosmetic touch up.

The tentative date is Tuesday Feb 5 and Wednesday Feb 6. We will be getting a hotel room in the city as driving in and out to the east side two days in a row (especially post-op) is just insane. We will have family or friends stay at the house with the kids those two nights. Recovery should only be a few weeks which is a good thing as Sue has been using unpaid FMLA since the end of December as the “sick bank” option never materialized and we exhausted all of the paid FMLA with Faith last year.

I will be updating this blog much more often now as more information becomes available and dates and times approach.

Thank you all for you support and prayers and to our little angel who has been busy.

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