Friday, August 14, 2009

Actual Information

Well, today I had an appointment with my new Oncologist, Dr. Hoang, (I switched as my Tampa doc recommended a "Board Certified Oncologist") and I really got along well with him. He was kind, compassionate, and very informative.....From the beginning, this is what I learned, and I'm sharing it so that it might help someone else:

When learning a breast cancer exists, doctors look at age of patient, the size of the tumor(s), whether or not it invaded the lymph nodes, estrogen/progesterone positive or negative, grade (1, 2, 3), Her2neu (protein), and whether or not it is invasive (reaching out) or insitu (meaning encapsulated not reaching out). As you can imagine, these results can vary person to person.

As an example - One might be 45 (like me), with a 1.5 cm tumor, N0 (no lymph nodes involved), ER/PR negative, Grade 3 (very aggressive), Her2Neu negative, and invasive. To read it as a doctor puts it, I would be listed as: T1c, N0, Mx, ER/PR (-), Her2neu (-), and IDC (Invasive Ductal Cancer). (Or this is close anyway)

Next, Dr. Hoang explained (Adjuvant)chemotherapy to me (there are 4 generations). The first generation consisted of what is called CMF x6 ( x6 =6 months). The second generation of chemo produced AC x4 (if tumors were over 2 cm). The third one consists of AC x 4 (3 months), and then Taxane x 3 (weekly)(especially if lymph nodes are involved). Finally, the mean ones, the fourth generation. These basically kill your body without killing you and are usually reserved for Stage III and IV patients. They are called FAC, FEC, and FEC + Taxane. My sister Pam, a Stage III Triple negative endured the FEC + Taxane. She was miserable.

As for me: I am a Stage 1, Grade 3 patient; I get only one shot at making all cancer go away; I will do six months of chemotherapy 3/3 * (3 months of AC and 3 months of Taxane); The first three months will be the hardest; It is four rounds; once every three weeks; The last three months (Taxane) are weekly and should be easier on my body.

Now, this should be how my body progresses.
Day 1 - Day 7: First 3-4 days nausea/vomiting/tired :(
Day 8- Day 14: Low blood count - watch for infection (this is the most worrisome)
Day 15 - Day 21: Recovery period - I should feel pretty good. :)

As for tests, he is ordering a PET scan, a MUGA (heart ultrasound to ensure my heart is good - I know it is), and making plans to implant the port.

Wow, is this is a lot of information or what?? Once he laid it all out for me, I was able to better understand where I am at. As for school, he wants my primary focus to be on this care and getting better. It IS the beginning of my future. My chemo will be delayed until the end of September or first of October now due to this Monday's surgery so I am going to do this one last class and hope, hope, hope, for the best. After that, I'm taking a break and holding on for dear life.

I hope that I have explained this so that anyone who reads it can at least gather information and do research on their own in the unfortunate event it touches someone they know.

So, after the doctor's appointment, it was Chyla and Reina's turn. Shots with the Doc. Not good, poor little Reina screamed and of course, I dang near cried. She is such a little prissy...but alas, she was ok after they gave her to my sister.

This evening is closing with me watching Mo'nique in "Phat Girlz" - a good flick, and eating a bit of "Chunky Monkey" ice cream.....because I can....


  1. Debbie Loveday-KarnerAugust 16, 2009 at 2:40 PM

    I think it is WONDERFUL how you are putting this information out there for everyone. I never knew there were so many different types of breast cancer until I went through it myself. I stayed on the internet trying to figure it all out for myself. I would have loved to of had your page to go to in order to hear from an acutal person. You will and have inspired many with your page and I thank you for doing it.

    Have you asked your doctor about doing an ONCO DX test to see if chemo would even be beneficial for you. I didn't even know there was such a thing until I did some research of my own.

    I still think of you every day and keep you in my prayers. I know you will be just fine!!! :)

  2. Thanks so much, Debbie. I WILL definitely ask Dr. Hoang about that test! He instructed me to have 10 questions for him when I go back in two weeks, so this will be one of them. He may have answered it already though saying it is my ONLY chance.....but he's being pro-active so I will address it. Thanks again for your positive comments, I do appreciate it so much! Have a blessed week.

  3. Isn't it nice to have a plan? STage I is also great news. If I were you, with grade 3, I would want to be as aggressive as possible. The OncoType Dx test can tell you whether chemo would be appropriate but I think of it this way: What would give me the best possible odds of getting rid of it?

  4. You are such a wonderful lady. I love how you put all the Dr.'s "language, letters, acronyms, etc." in laymans terms for all of us. I meant to call you today but things have just been hectic. I know you're in the hospital right now preparing for surgery in the morning. I'll be waiting for Kyle's call. I know everything well know well - you have God and all that's good on your side. I will pray for you, and you will never leave my thoughts. I hope, even if you're not wearing it, that you took your prayer cross. I'm wearing mine. Since ours got sent together, it makes me feel a little closer to you.

    I love you,

  5. Arla, I'm sorry to hear of this set back... but it is only temporary. You will bounce right back and face this chemo head on. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I'm sorry to hear you will be putting your college career on hold but fully understand the need to concentrate on the most important part....YOUR RECOVERY!! Keep fighting my friend.
    Your Friend, Donna Nero