Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chemo Cycle 1 - Day 1

It has started! Yesterday I went for my first chemo session. Anxious? Yes! Terrified? Yes! Sobbing like a baby? Of course! It was too soon but it couldn't be soon enough.

Bone Scan

My first test was scheduled for the day after I first met my team. It was a bone scan - my very first nuclear test. My mother had had several scans using nuclear isotopes during the period of her life when she had non-Hodgkins lymphoma (she's been in remission for over 2 years), so I was able to grill her regarding her experience. Mine was only slightly different - I was allowed to leave the hospital during the waiting period.

Diagnosis

It was Leap Day, February 29th, when I found out I had breast cancer. What's worse - it had metastasized in my lymph nodes. I would have to wait another week and a half before I could see my new Surgical Oncologist, who would be coordinating my care. I felt lost. I was certain I was going to die. It was the longest and worst part of this experience so far.

I finally met "my team" at Princess Margaret Hospital on March 12th. They immediately had me scheduled for several tests to determine if the cancer had spread. Regardless of the outcome, they knew exactly what to do now. They started a search for the first available Medical Oncologist - chemo doctor. Because the cancer is in my lymph nodes and is a fair size (about 2 cm by 3 cm) chemotherapy would be administered first. This should shrink the tumor (possibly even wipe it out) so that the surgery can be less drastic. It will also give the medical oncologist a good idea of how my cancer responds to the drugs given. After completing chemo, and having a rest to recover, I will hopefully only need a lumpectomy with axillary lymph node dissection followed by radiation.

The tests to be performed were: CT Scan, Bone Scan, MUGa Heart Scan, and an MRI. Installation of a marker clip in the primary tumor was scheduled - in case the tumor does completely disappear with the chemo my surgeon will know where to look for tissue samples to check if all of the cancer is gone. In addition, the lab that made the initial diagnosis had not performed the tests necessary to determine the hormone receptor status and HER2 status of the cancer, so a request was sent to them to provide this information.

Today I finished the last of the tests - one day after my first chemo session, 9 days after meeting my medical oncologist, 27 days after meeting my surgical oncologist, and 1 month after learning that I had cancer.