The thought of today has been enough to put A on edge and me in tears. This morning, I had an appointment with my plastic surgeon, and we knew the pathology report was likely to come in today.
I saw Dr. L early this morning around 8:30. We didn’t really know what the appointment would entail. We were hoping for some news on reconstruction and on the drains. Dr. L was very pleased with the way things looked, and he removed 2 of the 4 drains. Drain removal wasn’t painful, per se, but it was uncomfortable…especially on my left side. But, hey, two drains gone. That’s something good. My drains didn’t bother me, but that’s mostly because of the Brobe and the amount of pillows I’ve been surrounded by since coming home from the hospital. Dr. L told us he needs to see me again next week to see about removing the remaining drains and to start adding fluid to the expanders. I’ve kind of resigned myself to the flat state of my chest. It is what it is. It’s not always going to be this way, or at least that’s the plan. And, if it is…well, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I cross it.
As A drove me home from Dr. L, my cell phone rang. I have a bluetooth, hands free system in my car, and the display popped up with Dr. H’s name and number. We both took a deep breath, and A pressed the button on my steering wheel to answer my phone.
“Hey guys, it’s Dr. H. I have some news. The pathology report is in. Is this a good time? L, you’re not driving are you?”
We told her it was a good time, and I was not driving. A was. He reached over and grabbed my hand. I held his with both of mine. I gripped his hand so hard he probably has bruises.
And the news…was so much better than we expected. There’s a chance. There’s hope. There’s relief. There’s deep breaths. There’s tears. All good.
Dr. H told us that the cancer was confined to the two sentinel nodes she removed initially. In total, she removed 16 nodes, counting the 2 sentinels, and 14 were negative for disease. 2, the sentinels, were positive; however, no disease penetrated the nodes’ walls. The cancer was completely contained within those two nodes. As for the tumor in my left breast, very little of it remained. No, it wasn’t completely gone, but at its largest, it measured 2.4 centimeters in September before I began chemo. According to pathology, the largest bit of it left was 5 millimeters. While the best news would have been that no cancer was found in the breast, this is the second best news.
The unknown tumor in my right breast proved to be another fibroadenoma. There were some cystic changes noted in the right breast on the pathology, but no cancer was found anywhere in the right breast or in the right lymph nodes Dr. H removed.
I realize this roller coaster is not over…I know the ride isn’t even close to done, but considering the news we expected from the pathology, I finally feel like there’s a chance for me. Dr. H is recommending radiation, and I asked her to set me up with a radiologist oncologist at Methodist. So, she’s going to work on that for me, and I’m going to see Dr. O next Friday. She will go over the pathology report in detail with us and make her recommendations. Still, I feel like there’s hope.
There’s a chance. I have a chance. I have some hope. The cancer didn’t spread beyond the first line nodes. The cancer responded to treatment. The cancer wasn’t in my right breast. I know…I KNOW there’s no guarantee this nightmare won’t come back or worsen, but dammit, for the first time since August, I got some good news. I got some hopeful news. I have a chance. And, for the first time since August, A and I got to take a deep breath. My parents got to take a deep breath. My in-laws got to take a deep breath. My friends got to take a deep breath.
I know I haven’t beaten cancer, but I finally have some hope in the face of my worst enemy. So many of my friends have texted me a picture that says “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You cannot withstand the storm,’ and the warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.'” Today is the first day I feel anything close to that. I may not be a storm, but I’m not defeated anymore. Not like I was last week. There’s a chance.
I have a chance. The stage did not change (stage 2a). As bad as it could have been, it wasn’t. I have a chance.