Saturday, April 5, 2008

April 4 - news

To my dear friends and family:

It has been a week since hearing the "not-so-good-news" that I have breast cancer. I wanted to let all of you know what has happened over the past week and update you with what I have learned.

Before getting into the details, I first want to thank all of you for the incredible out-pouring of love and concern I have felt from you. I have been so grateful for the calls, visits, cards, notes, emails, flowers, plants, get-to-gethers, dinners, prayers, talks, fasting and blessings. If I did not have direct contact from you, Shawna, Marian and others have conveyed your concern and let me know that I am in your prayers. I have been overwhelmed by how sweet, good and kind you all are.

This past week has been a bit of a roller coaster - as you can imagine. With the help of a Priesthood blessing, given to me by wonderful President Sam Clark and his cute son-in-law last Friday night and all of you that have prayed and fasted for me, I have been able to remain fairly upbeat and hopeful. I have been able to work all week and have been getting a good amount of sleep.

Wednesday was probably the worst day emotionally for me. I had a couple of different tests that day and felt really tired. I told everyone at my office that I was looking forward to going home, taking a long hot bath, and going to bed. With all that has been going on, I must have been a little preoccupied and hadn't been watching my electric bill carefully enough. When I got home that night, my electricity had been shut-off for non-payment. I couldn't believe it! Let it be a lesson to all of us. They don't mess around. I couldn't pay them enough money or bribe them to reconnect it that night and had to wait until the next day for them to turn it back on. Sweet Shawna Stoddard had both me and my 85 lb. Labrador Retriever for house guests that night. She even gave me her bed and wouldn't let me argue the point with her.

At the time, this wasn't very funny to me. Now, I think it's hysterical. And, having my electricity off potentially helped me get some much needed sleep since I didn't get some messages Wednesday evening that had been left about some more tests the doctors want me to have. I know it would have made me anxious that evening had I received those messages after their offices were closed and couldn't call them back. As it was, I had a great night's sleep.

I am already seeing how everything is working to my benefit. I am being comforted when I really need it. The doctors are doing all they can to get all of the information I need to move forward, deal with this thing, and get well. I have been reminded time and time again of Elder Bednar's talk on the "the tender mercies of the Lord." Things have been working together for me and I am already - in just one short week - seeing how I am being blessed daily.

Now, for what I have found out this week. This may be too much information for some of you, but I know that many of you want to know.

On Tuesday, I met with my surgeon, Dr. Regina Rosenthal. I thought she was great. She gave me the following information:

I have breast cancer in my left breast. She said it was interesting to her that they even had me come back in because the mammogram films she saw showed nothing of concern. She said it was intereting that the radiologist found anything and the only way they could have seen anything was that there was a slight difference from the mammogram films I had done 2 years ago.

I have what is called an invasive ductal carcinoma - which makes up over 70% of all breast cancers. It is 1.4 cm - which is considered small in the breast cancer world. The biopsy of the mass indicated that it is both estrogen and progesterone receptive - both good things to find out as I have more options for treatment, and HER 2 negative - which is also good as this can determine if the cancer is aggressive or not.

I may or may not be able to have a lumpectomy based on the location of the lump. My surgeon will give me her best recommendation and we will go from there.

She did mention that I have some enlarged lymph nodes on my left side - which could be an indication that cancer has spread to them. I have my next appointment with her on Wednesday - April 9th - at which time I should have an idea of what my surgery will be.

On Wednesday, I went to the new hospital for some tests. That morning, I had an MRI which showed an area of concern on my right breast. It is very rare to have cancer in both breasts at the same time (THANK YOU MARIAN DECKER FOR BRINGING DR. SUSAN LOVE'S BOOK OVER SO I COULD READ SOME GOOD INFORMATION AND STOP FREAKING OUT LAST NIGHT) so there is a very good chance the biopsy will come back clean. If it is cancer - it is not metastasis of the cancer in the other breast. It is probably a primary cancer. According to Dr. Love's book - she says that: "It is important to note that your prognosis is only as bad as the worst of the two tumors - not doubly as bad as either one." It made my night last night to read this! I am having another MRI with biopsy on Monday of the right breast.

I had a biopsy on Wednesday of an enlarged lymph node on the left side. I just got the results and, unfortunately, it did test positive for cancer. I was prepared to get this information since I had been warned that this was very likely. It's not great news, but it's news I needed to get. I know that both the doctors and I need all of the information we can get to do what needs to be done to get me back to good health. This puts me - so far - at Stage II cancer. Barring any more negative findings, this is hopefully where I will stay.

The doctor that gave me the news regarding the lymph node biopsy will be doing my MRI biopsy of my right breast on Monday. He said he really doubts that anything will show-up on the biopsy - but felt they need to do the test to be sure. He was very encouraging, overall. All of the doctors I have seen have been wonderful and I have real confidence that they will also be blessed to give me the treatments necessary to help me return to good health.

So, this is what I know so far. I will have the rest of the test results by my meeting with my surgeon next Wednesday and should have a game plan shortly thereafter for my surgery. Treatment will be decided after the biopsies from the surgery, etc.

I will try and email an update each week as information comes and let you know how things are progressing.

Thanks, once again, to all of you. I know I couldn't get through this without you, your love, prayers and concern.


FYI - I don't mind people knowing about this. If there is someone you think would like this information - feel free to pass it along.

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