Everyone Deserves an A+
I decided that I got an A+ from all of my tests today (even though it took me hours later to get them in here). Of course after all of my tests I am curious what tests are supposed to be completed normally, will I ever have an MRI again, do you do that if you don’t have breast tissue? The things you forget to ask when you are at the doctor’s office (which is why they should be written down).
Today they tested my heart to check my ejection fraction after my previous tests coming back showing that my heart had been a wee bit damaged by Adriamycin (I can’t tell you how many times I have had to spell that word before I could actually spell it correctly every time). I wrote down the numbers this time so that I get them right. I had an ejection fraction of 73 before I had chemo (which is apparently really good) and it went down to 56 after chemo (I got it wrong in my previous post). Sounds like a lot? It is, a bit… Chemo hurt my heart. My test today showed 66, which is pretty major improvement and almost back to where I started!
The second set of tests were my blood tests which all came back as all things normal (my liver was acting up a bit in my last test before my surgery).
The third set was a bit more last minute but I have had a bit of a strange cough. Totally random, dry, haven’t a clue. The radiation oncologist felt like it could be acid reflux so I am going to start medicine for that. They also did a lung X-ray (because realistically, if some tiny twinge happens in your lungs when you are in treatment for breast cancer you worry that it spread to your lungs. Period). It came back clean and clear. I am scheduled to check for asthma if the reflux medications don’t resolve it.
I received my Tamoxifen prescription today. I will start taking it tomorrow morning. WOW. I am on the pill portion of my treatment (5 years, but it is 5 years of pill breast cancer fighting action). Tamoxifen can decrease risk of breast cancer recurrence by 50%.
One thing about my cancer adventures is that I didn’t do chemo and radiation to treat the cancer that I had earlier this year. It was something I went through to keep myself from having a recurrence. Recurrence is strangely something I never had heard of or thought about until I had cancer. It could be a bit selfish, but I had thought that they either got the cancer or they didn’t. I didn’t know that not getting the cancer meant that it comes back elsewhere (stage 4 means it got elsewhere and created a tumor. Every stage before that is based on how far the cancer has spread, usually counting how many lymph nodes were involved). Recurrence can be local (the same cancer cells showing up in the area of the original tumor, skin, tissue etc.) or a recurrence showing up elsewhere in your body (metastatic breast cancer can mean a tumor in your bones or lungs, but it is the same type of breast cancer cells in your bones and lungs). All of the decisions I have made in my treatment have been related to reducing my risk of recurrence and keeping myself from ever getting breast cancer again.
The statistics that come at you when you are diagnosed tend to be based on your risk of recurrence or your chance of dying. Sounds gruesome, but that is really what they measure in cancer studies. They don’t measure your emotional well being or your sex life, they check up on whether or not you are still alive and whether or not your cancer showed up again somewhere in your body (note, if you have breast cancer in one breast, and you end up with breast cancer in the other breast, it is a completely different cancer, but you have a higher chance of cancer showing up in the other breast if you have had breast cancer, whoooo).
You tumor grade and size are relevant in your chance of recurrence. Your tumor “grade” is different from your stage because it is based on the mutations within the cell (the more mutations the more it likes to spread), which is related to how many times the cells split. I won’t bore your with the details, but info on breast cancer tumor grades are here a (mine was grade 3 and a 9) 9 is the highest in grade 3 so this means I get two A+’s today.
So, in short, my tests came out great today. We kicked this cancer in the butt, but I am not going to lie. I am a bit worried about the cancer coming back although I feel like I have done everything in my power to keep it from coming back. Which is why the word associated with cancer is: