I experienced a particularly difficult day this week. At Dr. Lickstein's office I found myself teary-eyed and overwhelmed at this whole process both emotionally and physically. Reconstruction has been a very uncomfortable ordeal for me and expansion adds to my discomfort each week. I just start to feel a little bit better for a day or two and then it's time to do it again.
This past weekend, out of the blue came hot, searing, shooting pains across my chest and a good, solid night's sleep still eludes me. I toss and turn attempting to find a comfortable position free from pain and it's just not happening right now and I'm tired. Hey, but at least for the past ten days or so I've been able to get into bed and lay down rather than sleeping in my recliner. This is good!
I guess there are days like this when you've had cancer and go through all that you do. I know the whole "chemo" thing has been weighing heavily on my mind too as I have been awaiting the results. Traveling this journey is not always an easy one and on this day everything looked dark and I was weary. The pouring down rain and winds blowing outside didn't help either and I just wanted to stay in bed.
But Dr. Lickstein and one of his precious nurses, Jessica, were there with a listening ear and reassuring that it's okay to cry and normal but that all is going well, I'm making progress and that it will get better. I have such phenomenal doctors and caregivers!
I have to remind myself, albeit perhaps not at my pace, I am improving each week and try to remain upbeat, positive and grateful for all the blessings throughout it all. And there most definitely have been many blessings!
So, I'm continuing my weekly chest expansion and this week bravely agreed to increase the saline amount from 75 to 100 cc's to speed up this process a bit and just get through it. I still probably have several more saline injections to go so I'm trying to keep focused on the end result and to keep on moving forward. And, the sun did come out the next day and God is still on the throne and His grace sufficient. Thank You, Lord, for seeing me through the difficult days and the good!
Regarding the Oncotype DX test, Dr. Schultz called me last night to let me know that the tumor results were finally in.
I am in the “low risk” category for breast cancer recurrence with my score measured at 17. I am at the high end of low, with the low risk category ranging between 0-18. Oncotype DX testing overall ranges are from 0-100. So, at this point I have an 83% chance of cancer not recurring but there are certainly no guarantees made.
He said that the decision to have chemotherapy or not is more of a philosophical decision rather than a medical one and one which I would need to grapple with on my own to come to a decision since it would only slightly benefit me, if at all when combined with hormone therapy with Tamoxifen.
Dr. Schultz said there are those who want to have chemotherapy if they think it may decrease the likelihood of recurrence at all and who might beat themselves up later if they didn’t do it and wonder if their decision is the reason cancer returned. But there is only a possibility of a 1-2% advantage to having chemotherapy in my situation. So, rather than a 17% chance of recurrence, my recurrence rate may drop to between 15-16%...not significant and at least in my mind and Jeff's, not a valid reason to undergo something as radical as chemotherapy.
With a strong possibility of not having to undergo chemotherapy, this morning I literally felt like I could take a breath for the first time since diagnosis and then I broke down and cried in gratitude for having been brought through thus far in one piece by the hand of God and through those He has used to help hold me upright. Though I know I'm far from done and the decision is not absolute the findings were definitely pretty good news, thank God! You are the source of my strength!
Jeff and I are meeting with Oncologist, Dr. Rima Couzi on Tuesday, May 25th to go over the findings in more detail and are relying on her expertise and continuing to pray for the Lord's wisdom and guidance to help us make the final decision to have chemo or not. If chemotherapy was chosen I would probably begin within a month. I'll let you all know one way or the other.