Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I forgot to include one line of thought this morning when I updated this story, and since I know I've had a number of readers already, I'm sticking this in like a little 'tweet'!

Demons - my biggest enemy as I travel this road of cancer is my bloody mind! No matter the front, no matter the choice of positive attitude, I guess it's simply human nature to fear the unknown. One girlfriend said just the other day, 'expect the worst but hope for the best' - I try, I really do!

An example - when Dr. Brooks' office called last Thursday to say the PETscan results were in, and the doctor wanted to see me as soon as possible, which was Friday, all that did was convince me that the scan showed cancer everywhere. I had 24 hours to stew on the fact that I was probably going to die sooner than later. The fact that the results were positive rather than negative didn't help me survive that 24 hours, because his office/his attitude didn't let me know.

I admit now that my attitude about that man has improved a great deal since my initial meeting with him, when I did not like him at all. But that simple phone call could have been so much better handled. Instead my mind assumed the worst.

Our brains are incredible machines - and though I sorely abused mine in that car accident so long ago, and my lack of memory troubles me every day, I've done very well. Logic and common sense make up for lots of other failings. But there is a damned demon hiding in there who likes to play games!

The newest game? When I learned about the HER2+ part of this cancer, the aggressive fast growing cancer - I can now feel the damned thing growing! I KNOW that's ridiculous - but I swear I can feel it expanding.

The mind - an evil tool sometimes!

PETscan results

I've been putting off posting the report on my PETscan, hoping for the results of the last biopsy to show up, but they are floating around the ozone somewhere, so I'll just skip it for now.

Actually, I hope the results do turn up eventually, because I do not want to go thru another biopsy. This last guy must have nicked a little blood vessel - my poor boob looks like a ripe eggplant, and is as tender as a big deep bruise can be. And that's after taking a bunch of Arnica to prevent bruising and swelling. (Arnica Montana is a homeopathic remedy that my old neighbor/acupuncturist/Chinese herbologist recommended to me for various other troubles - always helped in the past!!) No one is sticking needles in there again for a while - I guarantee that!!

The PETscan - the good news is that it showed no new bad guys!!! It confirmed again the tumors in the right breast and in two lymph nodes on the right side (up from the one that was biopsied). It did not show anything in the left breast, but the doctors say they must still wait for the missing biopsy results to confirm that because the PETscan does miss little areas. Huh? So why did we do it? Oh yeah, to see if it's anywhere else - in big masses of cancer cells.

The bad news that accompanied that report, which I received from the 'medical oncologist' (that's the guy I immediately took a disliking to, which is now revised), is that my tumors are HER2+. That was definitely not what I wanted to hear.

I'd never heard of HER2+ of course, but Dr. Brooks says it is a very aggressive and fast moving beast. And said it's "curable" which is a very exciting description!

Approximately 25% of breast cancer patients have tumors that are HER2+, which stands for
Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2. Each normal breast cell contains copies of the HER2 gene in its DNA, which helps normal cells grow. The HER2 protein, also called the HER2 receptor, is found on the surface of some normal cells where they send growth signals from outside the cell to the inside of the cell, telling the cell to grow and divide. In HER2+ breast cancer, the cancer cells have an abnormally high number of HER2 genes per cell. When this happens, too much HER2 protein appears on the surface of these cancer cell, called HER2 protein overexpression. Too much HER2 protein is thought to cause cancer cells to grow and divide more quickly, which is why HER2+ breast cancer is considered aggressive.

Women with HER2+ breast cancer may be less likely to respond to certain breast cancer treatments, and may be more likely to have a recurrence (return) of their cancer. Cheery news, but he did say it's curable!

This means that I'm leaning more and more toward chemo, which I am adamantly opposed to. Curable is a very appealing word!

Herceptin is the 'cure' for the HER2+ beasties, although in reading up on it at the site provided in the link, it doesn't sound quite as effective as Dr. Brooks made it out to be. Gives me a couple more questions for next time I see him!

No pictures this time of the PETscan results - they gave me a Xerox copy of the film he showed me, but there are 24 images on one page, and it's basically totally worthless to the untrained eye.

Tomorrow I see my surgeon, and she says she'll have a proposed plan of attack, so I'll report back in with that info - not really looking forward to it. This is where we get down to the slicing and dicing - where it really hits home. Thankfully, I have an incredible support system from my very special friends scattered all over the map, and from my sweet Silver Fox!

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