Every Step of the Way: A Nurse's Cancer Diary - Entry 6
Nancy Cohen, BSN, RN, has graciously shared her personal journal, in which she writes about doing battle with cancer for the second time in her life. This is the sixh installment of a weekly blog that will enable readers to join her on the journey.
Entry 6: A Rare Occurence
November 3, 2011
I received the news yesterday. Waiting by the phone, as I was so used to doing. I jumped when it rang knowing it was the breast surgeon with more information.
A 6-millimeter tumor. It had a name: invasive ductal adenocarcinoma with some ductal carcinoma in-situ. The margins were negative. Eight nodes were removed and – I held my breath – all were negative for cancer!
This was fantastic news. The estrogen and progesterone receptors were negative and I would wait for the Her 2 neu gene results. If it was positive, I would have to take a drug called Herceptin for 1 year to decrease my risk of a recurrence, if negative, then no Herceptin. I learned that a tiny pocket of breast tissue under the axillary tail on the right side was the origin of the new cancer. Surely, I would be the subject of medical articles since developing a new breast cancer so many years out from the original cancer, and on the opposite side, was such a rare occurrence. Neither my breast surgeon nor my medical oncologist had ever seen such a case in their collective 60-plus years in practice.
So will my cancer change the course of future prophylactic breast surgeries? Perhaps other women would be spared the agony of another breast cancer or even a first from a more extensive dissection even though the surgery I underwent followed protocol for prophylactic mastectomies. Perhaps a prophylactic sentinel lymph node biopsy may be recommended in the future for high-risk individuals. I don’t know. That’s for medical researchers to investigate.
I know I need to be strong for my family, for my 10-year-old boy. I had a conversation with him last night. He was teary and curious at the same time. Honesty, on his level. That’s what I think he needs.
Click here to read Entry 5: Down, But Not Out.