• Knowns and Unknowns

    save some titties

    I received an email asking if I was going to provide details of knowns and unknowns to date. I’ll try.

    Are you ready?

    Yeah, me either.

    Here’s what we know:

    • The name of the cancer is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
    • Estrogen/Progesterone tests came back positive and HER2 test came back negative so that indicates it’s a more ‘typical’ cancer.
    • The cancer is in at least one breast and at least one lymphnode.
    • There are two tumors in my right breast.  One is 2.3 cm, the other is 1 cm.
    • There is at least ten centimeters of calcification that goes from the top of my right breast down toward my nipple.

    (FYI: That’s the only time in my life I’ve ever typed the word ‘nipple’ and not giggled like a thirteen year old.)

    • There is an area of concern in one lymphnode beneath my collarbone on the right side.  I don’t know exactly what this means but it scares the shit out of me.
    • Genetic testing will be performed to determine if I have the BRCA or BART genes.  If I do, this could impact surgery decisions down the road (lumpectomy options go out the window and we start talking about double mastectomy and removal of my ovaries).

    (To my amazing Genetic Counselor friend, Christy, please feel free to correct that last if I said it wrong.)

    • There will be chemotherapy. Chemotherapy will happen before surgery to see how the cancer responds.
    • There will be surgery.
    • There will be radiation.

    If you read all that and feel like you’ve been hit over the head with fifty pound medical text book, welcome to the wonderful world of cancer.

    Grab a glass of wine (so what if it’s before noon on a Sunday morning), because this shit’s about to get heavy.

    Here’s what we don’t know:

    • We don’t know when chemotherapy will start. I have to get through the PET scan first.  I’ll get to that in a minute.
    • We don’t know what kind of surgery will be needed.  This will depend on the results of the PET scan, the genetic test and the biopsy.
    • We don’t know if the 10 cm of calcification is cancer.  Hence the need for the second biopsy.

    When I had my first biopsy done back in early July, they only took samples from the tumors and from a lymphnode under my arm. My new surgeon said we need to know if this 10 cm is cancer, too, because it could help determine the extent of the surgery I will need (lumpectomy vs full mastectomy).

    • We don’t know the results of the genetic testing yet.

    I’m learning to jump through insurance hoops. For instance, the hoop required for the insurance company to approve the PET scan (denied twice–once with the old doctor, and once with the new) was a phone conference between my doctor and the insurance company in which my doctor justified the use of a very expensive test.

    I like to think my panicked phone call to the insurance company telling them they needed to scan the ‘timebomb in my bra before it killed me’ had some impact, too, but I’ll never be 100% sure.

    Another hoop to jump through: the insurance company denied the genetic testing because I hadn’t spoken to a genetic counselor.

    I made another phone call to them and was told ‘no, you don’t have to speak to a GC’.

    My doctor’s office called the insurance company and were told ‘yes, she does’.

    This resulted in a four way conference call between me, my doctor’s office, the insurance company and the genetic testing lab to determine if I needed to speak to a genetic counselor before the appointment (it turns out the answer is ‘yes, she does have to’).

    So approximately two weeks after August 5th, my phone-date with a GC, I will have the results of the genetic test.

    • We don’t know the stage.

    This is the big, scary, ten million dollar question everyone wants to know the answer to.

    The stage will be determined by the PET scan on Tuesday. According to the medical brochure I was given, the PET scan is similar in shape to a CT scan, but makes very minimal noise and shows how your body tissues function.  My favorite quote from this brochure:

    “You will receive a radioactive injection and it is imperative that we keep exposure levels to the public as low as reasonably achievable.”

    I read this to Justin.  He was quiet for a minute then said, “You better get super powers out of this.”

    Can I get an amen.

    I have been given a tentative diagnosis of stage two, then later, a tentative diagnosis of stage three.  If the scan shows it’s spread to my bones/brain/other places, that’s stage four.  The doctors say they can cure stage one, two and three.  Not stage four.

    Consequently, ‘three’ has become my new favorite number.

    So, in less than a thousand words, that’s my list of knowns and unknowns to date.  I’ll post an update with the results of all the tests later this week.

    If you don’t hear from me, assume the best and picture me shooting webs out of my hands and swinging through downtown Houston from the tops of skyscrapers.

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22 Responsesso far.

  1. Leslee says:

    I like the thought of you “swinging” around Houston!!

  2. Jeannie says:

    Thank you for sharing this! Have faith, Meghan! I don’t know what else to say, except to have faith…and know that you have an army of people with you who love you and who are praying for you! God is good!! Know that!;). Love you!

  3. Leslee says:

    Nothing but good news on Tueaday! I’ll be thinking of you! ❤️

  4. Annette Foster says:

    So I won’t hear from you on Tuesday. I will watch the States news informing me about a gorgeous woman shooting webs out of her hands in downtown Houston swinging from high rise to high rise. :). Postive thought and prayers. Xoxoxo

    • Meghan says:

      You’ll see a post tomorrow, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to report the results. Will depend on the efficiency of the lab. 🙂

  5. Erin Miller says:

    Well…..shit, I really want to swear a lot more, but have you noticed being an influential writer doesn’t run in my family? You have the gift. Mother f@&king cancer. I hate it, but I love you.

    • Meghan says:

      Actually, Erin, I think “mother f@&king cancer” is a very accurate description.

      And I love you, too. 🙂

  6. Pat Sincox says:

    OK, I will date myself by saying that this posting was heavy. But I look forward to an update after Tuesday (?). It may be a Freudian slip, but I like that you referred to those people as the indurance company….maybe a typo, but definitely a mix of insurance and endurance……..and I know dealing with insurance companies is a big hassle. Both of my daughters are insulin-dependent diabetics, each since the age of seven, and they are now 33 and 31 years old now. Their montra was always: Deny, Delay, then Pay. Then start the vicious cycle over the next month with very similar charges. I have not had to deal them for a few years now (since my kids got off of my MOC insurance or Cobra Insurance), but I am sure the trends are still the same.

    And, despite your dog’s preference, I really did like the shoes!!

    • Meghan says:

      Oops! Thanks, Pat! I wish I could take credit for being clever enough to come up with a new word pertaining to insurance companies, but nope… Just fat fingered it. I fixed it. Thanks for the catch!

      I like the shoes, too. I think Tilley will come around eventually. 🙂

  7. Killi says:

    Sending positive thoughts!!

  8. Rene says:

    Praying for you like crazy. ‘Cause I just do that. 🙂

    So what color’s your cape? All the best superheros have one 😉

  9. I was thinking of you all today. I’ll be in the corner changing the lucky number three for ya….or lower, I’d love for them to have over shot it. That’d be nice. Wishful thinking? 😉

  10. […] though twenty two minutes seems a lot longer when you’re inside a tube.  Unfortunately, no super powers have emerged yet, but I still have high hopes to wake up one day this week able to […]

  11. Christy says:

    Hi Megs!
    Totally missed this post so I’m catching up.
    You are sort of right about your testing. BRCA testing refers to two different genes: BRCA1 and BRCA2. Everyone has these genes. They are actually good genes that help prevent cancer when working properly. The testing is to see if you have any mutations in either of these genes that would make them stop working. There can be different types of mutations: single base pair changes to the DNA and larger deletions or duplications. The company that you are testing with calls the test for the larger duplications and deletions, BART (BRCA Rearrangement Testing).
    My bet still stands. If you don’t learn something from your GC appt I will wear Isaac’s pirate hat to work 😉
    Stepping off my GC soapbox now 🙂

    • Meghan says:

      See?! This is why I brought in a professional! You don’t have to wear the hat. They were super informative and I definitely learned a few new things today. 🙂

  12. […] have been wrestling with so many unknowns, but we had the biggest of those unknowns answered today:  The PET scan results showed the cancer […]

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