Tuesday, June 2, 2009

And now, for Part II - Our fearless patient walks the mean streets of Baltimore for her 2nd opinion
This part was less eventful. Citing the same research that my chemo doctor did, the doctor at Hopkins thinks that I should have surgery first and then get chemo (opposite of what they want me to do at Hershey). Again, survival rates are the same either way, but his feeling is that we need to get the tumor out first, since that's where the cancer originates. I'm going to talk to my doctors at Hershey and give them a chance to rebutt, then read the actual study regarding survival rates, and then make a decision. I really like the doctors at Hershey and I would like to kill any potential cancer elsewhere first, so I'm leaning towards Hershey right now. However, I haven't made any final decision. My friend at Hopkins is scheduling an appointment with a medical oncologist (chemo specialist) there to chat about it further.

Funny story about Baltimore: We stopped to get gas near the Baltimore projects (what isn't near the bmore projects, you ask? heck if I know) and Don got hustled. He tried to pull the "my fiancee has cancer" card, but the junkie came right back with, "That's terrible. You know, I have MS, but don't have any money for treatment." Don ended up giving him $10. We need to look into ways to harness the creative powers of junkies for good. Or perhaps we've already done that, and it's called advertising.

I've gotten a few questions about what stage I'm in and whether the cancer has spread. The short answer is, I don't know the answer to either question yet. I have a CT scan and a bone scan scheduled for Tuesday (6/9), which should give us an indication if the cancer has spread anywhere beyond the breast. Typically breast cancer spreads to the bones, liver, lungs, and brain first. When I had my MRI last week, the doctor said that she could see some of the liver and bones on the MRI, and they looked okay. That's not definitive by any means, but it is a good sign. I believe I get staging information after these tests, but then my chemo doctor said that they typically do staging information after surgery. Part of the staging criteria depends on how many lymph nodes are involved, and they determine that after they've been removed during surgery. I do know that my tumor is 5.5 cms, and from what I've read online (dangerous, I know) that means it's at least a Stage III cancer. However, no doctor has told me anything about staging, so that tidbit may be meaningless.

I was a little mopey last week, but I've been in a great mood this week. My chemo doctor at Hershey emphasized how treatable this is and the surgeon at Hopkins seemed to feel that the cancer was localized in the breast. I think I just needed a little medical reassurance that I probably won't die to chase the blues away. I really will never have an excuse to wear crazy wigs with impunity again, and I think this port may act as the ultimate gross out card. So, as long as I

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