I thought I would share on my blog,to remember the early days of my journey fighting Breast Cancer, a piece that my husband wrote the morning after my diagnosis, so last Tuesday.
He has this theory that in a crisis men get their toolbox out and try and fix things the best they can rather than get emotional. He definitely does this and this is a perfect example of how. He isn’t a writer and boy did we have a few proof reads 🤣🤣, but he got researching and put together the following for friends and family if I got too tired explaining over and over what we are going through. At the time I told him he didn’t need to do it but it has proved invaluable. Also at work to stop the Chinese whispers ( or I’ll be losing both boobs by next week and be terminal 🙄!!)and keep management in the loop.
So here’s a read ..and it’s out there and I can blog about all the other stuff…
Some of you are aware and some are not, so this is the current health situation with my wife Helen.
I`ve done my own research plus asked the surgeon many questions.
I`ve decided to give you all a detailed run down and explain as much as I can in simple terms so everyone knows all the details. Google is great for understanding medical terminology. This will hopefully save a lot of repeat questions, from well meaning friends and family.
A couple of weeks ago Helen felt an unusual lump in her breast. She went to the doctors to for a check up.
The doctor was concerned and sent her for an ultrasound at IRG, Wollongong.
The result from the ultrasound was the finding of a 1.5cm x 1cm “Suspicious Nodule”
She was then referred for a biopsy, both fine needle and core needle.
They put a needle into the centre of the tumour and extract a sample from the cells nucleus. This allows them to see if it`s benign (dead) or cancerous (alive)
It also identifies the exact strain and type of cancer cells, as there are 5 or 6 common ones and also rarer types.
The results came back from biopsy and read as follows:
1.”The core biopsy of breast tissue contains “Invasive Ductal Carcinoma” Grade 2.
2.”Oestrogen receptor +ve (100% of cells show moderate to strong nuclear staining)
3.”Progesterone receptor +ve (100% of cell show strong nuclear staining)
We were then referred to a specialist surgeon in Wollongong the next day, Dr.Allan Mekisic, who explained what it all meant, and what the treatment plan will be.
Helen has been officially diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. Strangely, good news a there are 4 stages.
It`s an Invasive Ductile Carcinoma (IDC) which is one of most common types, good news.
Its Oestrogen and Progesterone receptor positive, which means it can be controlled by hormone medication, Nolvadex or Arimidex. Again good news.
There is no sign at “present” that it has spread to the lymph nodes, also good news.
So, we have caught it early, it`s a common type, easy to remove, treatable, with no signs it has spread, the best we could hope for.
Just FYI, the lymph nodes are part of the immune system, they are small structures that work as “filters” for foreign particles, bacteria and cancer cells.
A large supply of lymph nodes are located in the armpit, very close to breast tissue and the tumour, so can easily spread through the whole lymph / immune system.
The tumour will be removed by Dr. Mekisic on Thursday 21st February via a “Lumpectomy”, which is the removal of a cancerous tumour and a small amount of surrounding tissue. He will also take the two closest lymph nodes.
The removed tumour & surrounding tissue plus two lymph nodes will then be sent away for further tests. (including lymph node biopsy.)
We want to see no cancer cells in the tissue surrounding the tumour and lymph nodes. This will mean it has not spread and no further surgery or chemo will be needed.
Following recovery from surgery she will then have “Radiation Therapy”. A beam of rays on the tumour area only, not the whole body, which is also good news.
This will be 5 days a week (Mon – Fri) for 5 weeks. She “must” complete all 25 sessions. This is to kill any possible remaining cancer cells around the tumour site.
This does have some side effects, most common is fatigue, sunburn effect on skin, pink / redness, sensitive to warm water, swelling / soreness & itching.
This part will be the hardest of the whole process as Helen runs around all day like Wonder Woman doing a million jobs looking after us all, cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping, school, homework, Millie`s Acrobatics, walking the dog, paying the bills and doing her current job as a Support Worker.
She is going to have very low energy levels and get frustrated that she cant do what she wants or used to do. And after listing all that I have realised that I will have to up my game massively!
The last part of the treatment is hormonal, this is an oestrogen blocking medication.
In short oestrogen and progesterone are fuel for the cancer cells, like throwing petrol on a fire.
Nolvadex (Tamoxifen) attaches to the hormone receptor in cancer cells and blocks the oestrogen molecule, starving cancer cells of the fuel they need to grow.
She will have to take this everyday for at least 10 years or maybe life.
Tamoxifen also has some side effects such as fatigue, nausea, headaches, depression, mood swings etc.
After all this is complete she will also have regular visits, check ups, scans and blood test with the Oncologist. (Cancer Specialist).
So at this stage you know exactly what we do, I`ve learned a lot by writing this. I feel the more you know about it and all the big technical words, it makes you feel more positive about the whole process. I`ve also learned that Australia is the world leader in Breast Cancer research and treatment, we are miles ahead of the rest of the world apparently which is also good news.
She hasn`t got a rare strain of cancer which is the best you can hope for in this situation, the treatment is standard and been proven successful in lots of women around Australia.
So overall we are positive, she is in good hands, we have a very good surgeon and are close to Wollongong Hospital for any treatment, scans and check ups.
For those who have been in touch, thank you for your support and positive thoughts.
Thank you Chris. I ♥️U
PS. Happy Valentines
Until the next time