Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A New Team, A New Perspective Flashback to March 17th, 2010

We took the doctor’s opinion and got a second opinion and went to Dana Farber. Dana Farber is overwhelming in itself. Unlike the first hospital, this place was crowded with cancer patients, all ages, colors, and stages. Each floor had it’s own cancer specialty, but everywhere you looked you knew you were looking at a cancer patient or supporter. This waiting room had a much younger crowd mixed in with the “older” women. Many in wigs and scarves, even some men too.

So we waited our turn and met the surgeon, Dr. Gadd, who explained how her surgery would be very safe of the baby, and the scaring would be minimal since she liked to make the incision around the areola. The surgery will be to remove the small lump and a margin of tissue around the lump. They will check the margins and hope for “clear margins” meaning cancer wasn’t spreading out more in one or two directions and they “got it all”. They would also remove a couple of lymph nodes from my arm pit to test if the cancer cells have traveled into the lymphatic system. Both these will help with the “staging” of my breast cancer. Again, this surgery, even though I will be under anesthesia and receive radioisotopes, will be safe for the baby.

After a quick walk during lunch we met with Dr. Partridge, the medical oncologist who specializes in patients under 42 years old. Even though she was relatively young for a doctor, in her 11 years experience she had seen more the 400 women who were pregnant while battling breast cancer. 400 women in 11years, pregnant with breast cancer in the New England area alone, I guess I am not that unique! She knows what she is doing and that is reassuring. And all I needed to know to make my decision to go with her and the rest of the Dana Farber team.
Dr. Partridge also explained we take things in steps. We do not need to talk about terminating the baby, and we do not need to talk about a mastectomy. Right now we talk about the surgery to remove the tumor and lymph nodes, then chemo. By the way, if you plan to get breast cancer while you are pregnant, the second trimester is the ideal time, guess we did something right! In the second trimester you can safely have surgery, the babies organs have been developed and are just growing, and you have time for a complete chemo treatment before giving birth. I also will have a high risk ob/gyn on my team to monitor and watch my baby throughout the next 5-6 months.

The team’s plan for me was to have the surgery around weeks 16-17. Wait a week or so, and then start chemo around week 19-20. Apparently some chemo drugs do not pass through the placenta, another reason, these drugs only attack fast growing cells, cells that grow much faster than a fetus’ cell. My first chemo cocktail would be Adriamycin and Cytoxan (even sounds like poison!) which would be given 4 times over 12 weeks, 3 week intervals. Then after 12 weeks, the baby and I would have a few weeks to recover. And then I would be induced early, August baby!, and begin more chemo soon after, as well as MRIs and possibly radiation. I can’t have wine while pregnant, but I can have poison??? How is that fair!

Another long day packed with way more information than I ever wanted to know… but a better perspective and no choice needed to be made. For now, I will keep both my baby and my boob minus the lump!

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