It was two years ago today that I got the very good news that the initial pathology returned that my lymph nodes showed no signs of cancer. It was a few days later when the final pathology report came in that it was confirmed that my lymph nodes did not show any signs of having had cancer – so no dead cancer cells. Since I did chemotherapy first, if the cancer had spread to my nodes, the chemo may have cleared it out. We will never know 100% for certain what the pre-chemotherapy results might have been. It doesn’t really matter.
Scott told me that I asked him over-and-over again about the status of my nodes as I woke up from anesthesia. It was the biggest unknown in my treatment. I had known that I had tumors. Scanning gave us a pretty good sense of how big they were. Although scans didn’t show us any signs of lymph node involvement, I wouldn’t know for certain until they removed the sentinel nodes (the first couple/few) and tested them for cancer.
The sentenal node dissection was only a small part of the surgery that I underwent on November 19, 2014. I also had three lumpectomies (which were not really that successful – in that one didn’t have clean margins and one missed the tumor altogether). I knew that my surgeons were not really concerned about the success of the lumpectomies. They knew that they would be going back a month later to do a full bilateral mastectomy. The primary reason for this surgery was a devascularization of the nipple and areola. This was the first stage in the nipple sparing mastectomy. In addition to doing a biopsy of the lump nodes, they also took tissue for a biopsy of the skin under my nipples. If that showed to have cancer, then they would remove the nipples during the mastectomy. Fortunately, the nipple biospies were also negative for cancer.
This was the first of three surgeries.
It is hard to believe that was two years ago.
Feature image CC-Share Alike 4.0 by Cancer Research UK / Wikimedia Commons