Well, about 10 days have passed since my last chemo (still celebrating!), and I thought I’d update everyone on the emotional roller coaster that was the last week. It’s been surprisingly eventful!
I took the past week off to get a few appointments and scans done. I forgot to update on this, but on my last day of chemo last week, my manager at work notified me that we’ll be closing our COVID negative results call center at the end of this week (Nov. 7). It’s not lost on me how lucky I was to be able to have work through this pandemic, especially a safe job that I was able to do from home. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that chemo and that job will be ending at the same time. Time to start thinking about going back to some patient care (eventually)!
On Wednesday, I repeated my mammogram and ultrasound. Mammo was quick & easy but the tech was running behind so didn’t say much about anything she might’ve seen on the images. I’m able to see the ultrasound, however, and it was clear that there continues to be a small mass (6mm – about 1/3 the size of my original tumor) still remaining in my left breast. The poor ultrasound tech probably felt weird with me reading over her shoulder because she called in the radiologist who reminded me that the MRI would give more information. Because the MRI is done with contrast dye, any cancer cells will light up on the image. If no “lights,” then the mass may just be scar tissue.
Thursday morning, I had my MRI, and then in the afternoon I went in to my oncologist’s office for (hopefully) my last Zoladex injection (#SaveTheOvaries). I ran into my oncology APRN there and he printed the impression from my mammo & ultrasound for me and just casually mentioned, “The MRI showed nothing.” I won’t really believe it until I see the words on paper, and don’t worry I’ve been obsessively opening MyChart to see if the results are online. Not yet. Still, not yet. But I’m currently taking his word for it just so I can sleep at night.
Quick PSA: If you have “dense” or “very dense” breasts, a mammogram can be less accurate at detecting tumors or calcifications in the breast. You should talk with your doctor about what other imaging can be done to be sure nothing is ever missed!
I’m going to post pictures below of my mammogram and ultrasound impressions to give you an example.
Otherwise, yesterday was Halloween, and I couldn’t miss a chance to dress up again! (Last year we landed in Japan at midnight on Halloween, and I wasn’t packing a costume with me.) Last night, Justin & I were able to get together for a socially distant dinner with his sister and her boyfriend which was so fun and I’m looking forward to getting to see more friends and family now that I won’t be so immunocompromised. We also got to make a quick pit stop at our friends’ place to see their new baby so all is right in the world ❤
And, as today is November 1, we are celebrating el Dia de los Muertos and reminding you to #FeelItOnTheFirst!! The first of the month is the perfect time for you do your monthly breast/chest self-exam!
Due to COVID, breast cancer diagnoses are down by 51.8% — NOT because less people are getting cancer, but because they aren’t going in for their appointments! DO NOT DELAY your mammograms and OB/GYN appointments – your doctors and clinics are doing everything they can to keep you safe during this time. It could save your life!
*Remember: Men can get breast cancer, too, so encourage the men in your life to do their screenings!
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming to a close, please remember that breast cancer research does not stop needing support at the end of October and cancer survivors do no stop needing support once they’re “cured.” The fear of recurrence and survivorship in general evoke just as many emotions as the diagnosis and treatment. Treat everyone with a little grace and consider donating to cancer research if you have the means. I outlined some great breast cancer organizations in my previous post.
In case you’re following my Instagram page (@bri.d.pt), my sister-in-law Marisa & I had a great conversation about the inevitable thoughts of death/dying after receiving a cancer diagnosis or terminal illness. Check it out! If you’re interested in an intuitive angel card reading with Marisa, you can book one here!
I hope you all have a great week! Please stay healthy and safe, wear your masks, and wash your hands! Going into the holiday season, we want to be able to spend time with family and friends so the safer, the better!