Today is December 1. The first day of the last month of the absolute craziest year of our lives AND the start of birthday month! Thought I’d give you a little update on surgery and the excellent news I received today.
Last Friday, I had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy. I checked in at 5:30 am, had wires inserted into my tumor and into the lymph node that was “suspicious” at the time of my original diagnosis. My radiologist placed these wires guided by ultrasound imaging. Once the wires were securely in place, I was sent to nuclear medicine for lymphoscintigraphy. A radioactive tracer dye is injected near the site of my tumor and imaging is used to identify the first lymph node to which the tumor drains so it can be removed during surgery.
During surgery, the nodes are removed first and sent for preliminary pathology while the surgeon removes the tumor and a small margin of tissue. After surgery, the nodes and tumor are examined in more detail by the pathologist for any remaining cancer cells.
My preliminary pathology on the lymph nodes was negative and today (post-op day 4) my formal path report came back and indicated what’s called a pathologic complete response (PCR). PCR means that no residual cancer cells were found in the tumor bed or in the lymph nodes at all – CANCER FREE! PCR occurs in about 30% of people who have triple negative breast cancer (according to my surgeon), and this is absolutely the best possible outcome I could have asked for! I hope you’ll all celebrate with me this week.
As far as recovery from surgery, everything is going pretty well. Pain and swelling are both mild. I was instructed to leave my bandages on until my follow up with my surgeon on Thursday this week. I’ve been doing some really basic range of motion exercises for my neck, shoulder blades, elbow and wrist to help move the lymph and prevent any significant stiffness. My PT & lovely coworker suggested I don’t lift my left arm above shoulder height for the first several weeks to allow the lymphatics in my armpit to heal and try to prevent axillary cording (which I’m at higher risk for) and lymphedema (which I’m at lower risk for).
Just want to say another quick THANK YOU to all of you who’ve supported me and prayed for me. God is good, and I am so relieved by the pathology results. Next step is radiation, and I should find out more this week about what that may entail.
**Quick reminder: December 1 means it’s time to check your chest – do your self-exams and schedule your preventative screenings!
Sending alllll the aloha to you all today ❤