Christmas came a little early for me this year.
Today Hubby and I were in Dallas for six different appointments. I had a breast MRI, a mammogram and an ultrasound - all to see how well the chemo worked. I also met with my surgeon (Dr L), my plastic surgeon (Dr T) and my gynecological oncologist (Dr K).
I was feeling a lot of anxiety on the way to today's appointments. I'm usually calm and very easygoing with doctor visits and tests, and I feel very comfortable with all of these doctors, so I'm not really sure why it affected me so much today. I guess it was just the unknown - how well did the chemo work?
My first appointment was the MRI. This only takes about 15 minutes, so by MRI standards it's not bad at all. Getting stuck for the IV is the worst part. From there I went to the mammogram. I've had a handful of mammograms in the last few years and I have to say this one was the most uncomfortable. Let's just say the girl who did it was very thorough and very determined to get everything in the picture. Ouch! Last but not least I went to get an ultrasound of my cancer side. I had the same doctor who did my lymph node biopsy back in August. He's young and smart and very, very nice (and his name is Dr. Mann....for some reason that strikes me as funny). I was happy to see him, and he made me even happier when he said, "I guess I'm supposed to be doing an ultrasound on you, but after seeing your MRI, I'm not really sure what I'm looking for." He went on to explain that my mammogram from last year didn't really show the cancer very well. The MRI and ultrasound back in August showed a large mass and the biopsy on my lymph node was positive for a grade 3 (very aggressive) breast cancer. All bad news. Today was nothing but good news. During the MRI, they injected a contrast in my IV to better show any abnormalities. Dr. Mann said that today's MRI showed no unusual contrast uptake. In layman's terms, that means it didn't show any active cancer cells in my breast or lymph nodes. Hallelujah!
The first thing my surgeon said to me when she walked in the room was,
"Well your images from today look great. Pretty miraculous, even."
How's that for a body's response to chemo! She was very pleased and reiterated what Dr. Mann said. The tumor can no longer be seen on MRI and the lymph nodes appear normal. What still shows on ultrasound (located only by the titanium clips they put in during my biopsies) and what can still be felt is most likely scar tissue or dead cancer cells.
Now, to keep it all in check, we won't know anything for sure until I have surgery and they perform the pathology on my breast tissue. This is all just what the imaging showed today. Could there still be cancer in there? Yes. Is there a LOT less cancer in there than there was four months ago? Hell yes! Basically the chemo did what it was designed to do - attack the aggressive cancer cells and not only stop their growth, but make them disappear. I won't be able to say I am cancer-free until I have surgery and Dr L assures me she was able to remove it all. Until then, I will rejoice in the fact that prayers have been answered and the last four months of chemo hell have been worth it.
My other two appointments were rather uneventful. No other exams, no pictures taken (thank you God), no new tests ordered... Dr T, who will be my plastic surgeon for reconstruction, did advise me that it would be helpful if I could gain ten pounds so he would have more tissue to work with. Seriously? A doctor is telling me to gain weight right before Christmas and right before I'm laid up for a few weeks after major surgery? I don't think that will be a problem. On the other hand, Dr K gave me the standard warning of my susceptibility to osteoporosis since I'm only 40 and in chemo-induced menopause. She advised me to increase my calcium & vitamin D intake, as well as exercise and do strength training. I didn't have the heart to tell her Dr T wants me to gain weight.
I have the best, most faithful prayer warriors in the world. Thank you all for supporting me and my family, loving us and praying for me. I credit today's news to you, and to God. You asked, and He listened. I still have no hair or eyebrows or eyelashes or energy, but I also have no discernible tumor on my scans. That is the best Christmas present I could have asked for.
Oh, and prayer warriors, while you're at it? My BFF had a PET scan today (no, we didn't plan it that way) so please pray for NED (no evidence of disease) for her. She survived the same breast cancer diagnosis as mine.