I have a date
After another very anxiety filled week, things came together on Thursday afternoon and Friday. I finally feel like there is more of a plan.
First off, I will have surgery on Wednesday. I don’t yet know what time. It is listed as right axillary node dissection. The diagnosis is recurrent breast cancer. It will be a day surgery under general anesthetic and the OR is booked for 1 hour. I will find out what time on Monday. They sent the requisition over on Thursday (which infuriated me, as I thought she was sending it last week). The hospital called within an hour of the requisition and set me up for pre-assessment clinic the next day.
On Friday, my family doctor submitted a referral to my oncologist and Friday late afternoon my oncologist called me. It was good to just know that he is aware of what is happening. We had a brief conversation and I was able to get some initially thinking from him. I feel so much better mentally knowing that my oncologist thought enough about my mental health to call and check in on me – and let me know of his vacation plans, so that I won’t panic when I don’t hear from him. I am finally feeling like the system is caring for me.
What I did learn from my oncologist is that it the recurrence is showing HER- and highly ER/PR+ (like my initial cancer), then the treatment will likely be an aromatase inhibitor and zometa – and not likely systemic brutal chemo, which is encouraging. Of course, that will all depend on the biopsy results, which will take 2-3 weeks (yes that slow). Once the surgery is complete, I’ll be referred to radiation oncology. Radiation would happen before systemic therapy, so there is no great rush to make decisions.
I also spoke to the local cancer navigator who was awesome. She really helped me when I was overly stressing. She mentioned that chemo can happen in Bridgewater, and that we have two local oncologists. Since the system is connected, my oncologist in Halifax can put orders in for Bridgewater, so I don’t need to travel for chemo (that would be the zometa infusion, I’m not sure how frequently that would be, but likely once every 6 months). It has been shown to be effective for reducing the likelihood of bone mets after a recurrence.
Radiation on the other hand would be in Halifax. There is access to free accomodation and the cancer navigator assured me that they could also feed me. The place is specifically for cancer patients needing treatment who live too far away. Having to drive an hour and half each way, every day, would be too much. I have no idea how long treatment would be – but most people with their first occurrence have somewhere between 25 days and 30 days with treatment happening daily Monday through Friday. If that is the case, then I would get someone to drive me up on Monday for treatment, and then have someone pick me up on Friday after treatment, so that I can spend my weekends at home.
I have a couple more days of work ahead of me before I go in for surgery. I will then be out of commission from a painting perspective for somewhere between one and four weeks. I still don’t know what my post surgical restrictions will be. They don’t tell you that until after the surgery, which I find annoying as can be. That is something I hope I can change.