After a slightly frustrating Tuesday, I did receive the lab report first this Wednesday morning. It was really helpful to be able to read the report and process the information – especially given the way the surgeon will rush through things if I don’t slow her down.
She took a huge chunk out of me – 10.5 cm x 6.5 cm x 4 cm. That explains the 3.5 inch incision, which has nicely healed. I got the go ahead to start physical therapy and introduce more activity. Mostly it is just listening to my body and not overdoing it. Anyways, back to the pathology report. It confirms that it is breast cancer. In the huge chunk there were 10 lymph nodes. Five of the 10 lymph nodes had cancer. Two had extranodal extension. The largest one was 2.5 cm – this aligned with the size the radiologist said when she was doing the ultrasound guided biopsy.
In my original cancer, my right side was >95% ER and >80% PR positive, HER2 negative. In this one, the numbers are much lower – 25% ER and 10%PR. HER2 is still negative. I don’t know if the lower numbers are “too low” for hormone therapy, or what the extranodal extension means for treatment. Everything is now being passed over to my oncologist and a referral is being said to a radiation oncologist.
We learned some interesting things – like they don’t do stage and grade in a recurrence. They just call it recurrent breast cancer. They call it a “local recurrence” because my other scans came back clear. That being said, the words metastatic and metastasized came up a lot in our conversation because the cancer is considered to have metastasized to my lymph nodes. That is not to be confused with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer (MBC). The local recurrence is something that can be “cured”. Where a diagnosis of MBC is terminal.
I’m not sure how I’m feeling. Of all the things this cancer could have been, this is one of the “better” outcomes. I’m bummed about the number of nodes that were positive; however, the surgeon did say that “at least not all of them had cancer”. That is encouraging, I suppose. I think I’ll get a better sense of how I’m feeling when I know more about the treatment options. Until then, I really don’t have a lot more information – just that I can no longer pretend that it isn’t cancer. It is!