The Joy of Normal

February 17, 2010

—–Original Message—–
From: Tina
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:50 AM
Subject: Tina’s Good News (and last MASS email update)

Dear All ~

Wanted to quickly update you all. Good news since my email this weekend.

On Monday, with a far-too-experienced-with-cancer friend in tow to ask (intelligent) questions and take notes, I had a meeting with my surgeon. Within about 3 or 4 minutes, our collective confusion mounting, it was finally made clear that I do not have the dreaded phyllodes tumor (nor the Dread Pirate Roberts for those Princess Bride fans out there) – I just have the same-old, same-old, run-of-the-mill, “normal,*” albeit malignant, breast cancer that afflicts about 80% of individuals** with breast cancer.

(Did you ever think you would hear of someone relieved to hear they have malignant breast cancer?! Yeah, me neither. And apparently, neither did the Starbucks employees I so cheerfully tried to explain my happiness to, “I have breast cancer! Just plain old breast cancer! Isn’t that great?!”)

So, here’s where things stand as of right now.

I still have to have more surgery. The lymph nodes have to be checked and, if they don’t pass the test, I’ll have as many removed as seems necessary.

I have the option of having the breast re-excised (again, now that they know the tumor was malignant, they want to be sure the “field” is “clear”) or, to have a single mastectomy. Leaning pretty heavily toward the mastectomy as I don’t want to have to keep my fingers crossed for the next 40+ years and, because it reduces the rate of reoccurrence to the lowest possibility possible, I wouldn’t have to – at least not ALL the time!

Finally, I will undergo chemo as follow-up. I know far less about this process as it seems quite a ways away. (Thankfully, with a mastectomy, radiation would not be necessary.)

After the surgery is done and all the test results and data is in, I will work with an oncologist to determine what additional testing is advised. Despite the fact my blood counts still look good, further screening will be heavily driven by the lymph results.

So! I’ll be here (in the office) today and tomorrow for sure. I expect I will be in either before or after my appointment on Friday and maybe both. Surgery could be as soon as Monday or as late as March 3rd so beyond this week it is difficult to say when or if you will see me. I will keep all my coworkers, my boss, and the faculty I serve directly in close contact so feel free to check in with them for updates as the mood strikes you. My mother has also threatened to start a blog. Again, I’ll pass this info to the aforementioned IF it happens.

Thank you ALL so very much for the kind words, loving thoughts, and particularly for your confidence in me. I’m sure at least SOME of you never thought you’d ever have reason to be happy I can be so damn stubborn and relentless! Guessing these qualities will come in handy over the coming months.

As I so often am,

~ Tina

* Did you know that 80% of breast cancer appears in the left breast? Not that you shouldn’t check the right but, kind of like crossing a street, left – right – and LEFT AGAIN before crossing.

** Guys get breast cancer too – and no, you don’t have to have “man-boobs” to get it!


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