Here's the scoop:
Surgery went well. I was a bit groggy the day after, but by weekend I was doing easy hikes with Shannon and Dizzy and my drain.
I think this is totally disgusting, but this is where the drain comes out of my body.
You can see why it is an infection risk.
It drains into this bulb which I empty and measure a couple times daily.
Once 25 cc or less is produced for 2 consecutive days, the drain can be removed.
Actually, I still had the drain for this hike
That same day Shannon and I met with my medical oncologist. This is what we learned:
It is suspected that my sentinel lymph node biopsy from 2011 was a false negative and based on this alone my risk of distant recurrence is statistically increased.
My oncologist had two theories for why these axillary cancer cells survived my first round of treatment:
1- The cancer cells were already established in the lymph nodes back in 2011. Decreased bloodflow to the area due to the nearby surgical site reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy and the cells were either too well established for Tamoxifen to be effective or my body is resistant to Tamoxifen.
2-The original cancer is resistant to treatments that have been given.
If #1 is the case, surgery and radiation is most likely curative. If #2 is the case, new treatments are needed as there may still be rogue cancer cells lurking around in my body waiting to find host in distant organs.
Based on my young age, good health, and potential to live a long, cancer free life, the consensus is for me to undergo chemotherapy followed by radiation followed by changing Tamoxifen to an Aromatase Inhibitor.
This decision was not taken lightly by anyone, especially me. It takes more than one hand to count the number of oncologists I have consulted with. With additional treatment there are always risks, some life threatening and some that could significantly affect my quality of life, and it is scary as hell. That said, there are some folks who love me too much for me to risk the gamble of not undergoing additional treatment. You can bet that I will be doing everything I can to protect my health through this round of treatment.
On top of that, I had to get tested for Hepatitis A because I have been eating the Costco organic frozen berries involved in the recent Hep A recall. Thankfully, the test came back negative. I also had a pelvic ultrasound that came back negative.
Now that my body has been poked, prodded, and scanned in just about every way possible, I am ready to start the next step of treatment. Chemo is scheduled to start June 18th. Exactly 2 years from my final Neulasta shot in 2011.
My plan is not to hunker down and just 'get through' the rest of the year. Instead, I plan to enjoy life as much as possible. Maybe I'll even try some new things. I did already declare 2013 the summer of skirts!