We started our appointments yesterday at 8:00 a.m. and continued until after 5:00. The first appointment at the OB's ended up being entirely paperwork, but we have another visit scheduled for Monday. We wouldn't have been able to get in until later December, but there was a cancellation.
The surgeons were next. This was my first meeting with these surgeons, and it was very encouraging. Their outlook on the chances for both me and the baby were brighter than what we had been hearing. Their greatest warning was that general anesthesia this early in the pregnancy could cause me to miscarry. They are planning to do another series of biopsies, hopefully before the end of the week, and then surgery would be scheduled for sometime next week. Everyone agrees it would be unwise to delay the mastectomy another 5 weeks to give the baby time to develop more. The head surgeon was so kind to me when she told me not to be hard on myself for not having the arm lump checked out sooner. (The lump that was biopsied has been there for about 2 1/2 years.) She feels like this cancer is relatively recent - probably appeared shortly before I noticed that lump enlarging. She said slim people, especially women who have been nursing, tend to have more prominent lymph nodes. If she was just trying to make me feel better, it worked.
After lunch we met with Dr. Cook, the oncologist. Again, because of a cancellation, we were able to get in right away. Otherwise, we would have had to wait until next week. She was gentle and informative. The information she gave us was even more encouraging. Several types of chemotherapy are available during pregnancy, although radiation is not. Having surgery next week would work perfectly with the timing she has to observe. Surgery requires one month of healing before beginning chemo, and she can't give the chemo anyway until I'm in my second trimester. The timing would work together so I can start treatment at the earliest possible point. She also told me that since my case is very a-typical, it will be presented next week at a conference of surgeons and oncologists at St. Joe's, so lots of doctors will have their eyes on it.
Last of all, we met with the cancer patient navigator. Her whole job is to help us get around the twists and turns of cancer treatment and take advantage of available resources. That also was a very encouraging meeting.
I don't have an official prognosis yet. I am supposed to be having blood work and limited x-rays to help determine how far the cancer has spread. They know it is in at least two lymph nodes, because we can feel those - surgery will tell more. The stage of the cancer will be determined after all the tests, biopsies, and surgery. The oncologist thinks it is at least stage 2, very possibly stage 3. She was calling it a grade 3 cancer (which refers to something different), but then kind of backtracked because of the lack of information on the pathology report.
Our friends and family have been so helpful in every way. Amy Bixby, the first, (there are two of us) got this blog set up for me. Several people have offered their frequent flyer miles to our families so they can come out here. Someone loaned me an iPod Shuffle loaded with Jim Berg's "Quieting a Noisy Soul" and lots of music. A friend gave us a CD changer with remote control for our bedroom. We've received several uplifting CDs. And so many people have written to tell us they are praying. That is the best of all. Until you are facing something like this, you don't know how good it is to know that others are praying.
Ambertose, Xango, hyperbaric therapy, volcanic clay, red grapes, vitamin C therapy, others I can't remember at the moment: these are alternative remedies that have been recommended to us. We are checking them out. I'm already taking Ambertose, Xango, and a friend has a hyperbaric chamber. I won't tell you who it is in case all of you want to come use such an incredible health booster.
I apologize to those who have sent me messages on Facebook. I can't reply to messages consistently because of some kink. But I've read all of them and wish I could respond. And to everyone who has left us notes here - Thank you. You are all a blessing.