I met with a breast surgeon for the first time in early September. My OBGYN highly recommended the surgeon, and within minutes of meeting her, I knew why. Dr. H is just like my OBGYN. She’s warm, friendly, direct, and upfront. Considering the roller coaster my husband and I were on, we both appreciated her nature. She came into the room and before doing anything, she told us we would leave her office knowing everything there was to know about what we faced. Her confidence helped. Enormously. We needed that once she began her exam and consultation.
During the consultation, after the thorough exam, she told us what she knew. The ultrasound and mammogram indicated a 1 cm tumor. No physical exam or screening indicated lymph node enlargement. Clinically, she told us all evidence indicated early stage invasive ductal carcinoma. She explained to us what Grade 2 meant. Then, she told us the one piece of information I feared the most: the subtype.
I have friends who had triple negative. I knew it as one of the scarier breast cancers to be diagnosed with because of the limited treatment options. I spent the week between diagnosis and meeting with the surgeon terrified mine would be triple negative.
Mine is not triple negative. It is HER2 positive (ER-/PR-). I remember being relieved it wasn’t triple negative. I remember letting out a huge sigh when I heard the word positive. I didn’t know then that HER2 positive isn’t good.
The surgeon told us chemo would be unavoidable, and in addition to the chemo, I would require a year of targeted therapy treatment. She told us she had set up an appointment with an oncologist for the next day. I told her I wanted to see an oncologist at the Sammons Center and was waiting to hear from them. My surgeon told me that was fine, but she still wanted me to keep the appointment for the next day.
She also scheduled me for a series of tests…breast MRI, chest X-ray, EKG, etc. We set up a tentative date for port placement surgery, and she sent us on our way.
The next week, I had the tests she scheduled, and she called to give me the results. The X-ray was clear. The MRI showed the tumor was bigger than the ultrasound and mammogram indicated…2.1 cm instead of 1 cm. It also showed “fingers” coming from the tumor. I told her I didn’t want to consider a lumpectomy. I wanted (and still want) a double mastectomy. Knowing there’s cancer in one breast and at least one benign tumor in the other, I wanted them both gone. I know it doesn’t change the prognosis or chances of reoccurrence, but I want them gone.