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Monday, February 15, 2016

Surgeon #3 and Medical Oncololgist

Friday we met with two doctors, and learned still more information - some of it a bit sobering.

Surgeon #3 was great (really, every single person we've met so far, from the intake people to the nurses to the schedulers, has been super warm and helpful). In some ways, she didn't give us a lot of new info but it was helpful to meet her, and to solidify some of the details of what all the various tests and numbers mean.

We also liked the oncologist we met with. (I'm learning that all the docs involved with treating cancer are oncologists, so you have a surgical oncologist, a radiology oncologist, a medical oncologist, etc., etc., and that when you say "your oncologist" that means the medical oncologist.) The medical oncologist is the one who oversees all your treatment, and, as a few people have pointed out, is the one who is with you for the long haul - 5- 10 years or longer. As I posted earlier, it seems like this is the person you want to talk with first, rather than just the surgeon, so we were glad to have time with him.

Here's main new thing we learned from him.

He was very positive about the idea of genetic testing, not just because of screening for potential pancreatic cancer in the future, but also because of how it will help inform what type of surgery I undergo. I've been pretty much bouncing along thinking, "Oh, it will just be a lumpectomy and that's not a big deal," but if genetic testing shows positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, then the chances of reoccurrence are at about 66%. Taking the anti-hormonal medication, which I've already started, reduces the chances to about 30%, but that's still not wonderful odds, so a double mastectomy reduces the chances to less than 5%.

That was a stunner. As I've looked back at my notes, I see that surgeon #2, who ordered the genetic testing, had said something along the lines of, "we might do the surgery differently" based on the test. But I did not hear that as starkly as the way the oncologist explained it.

I don't think everyone gets genetic testing done beforehand. But I have the double whammy in my family history of a mother who had breast cancer and her sister, my aunt, who died of pancreatic cancer at age 31.

Based on that information, it seems smartest to wait until that test is back - in about 4 weeks. By that time, we should also have information back about the other test they sent in which will help determine, no matter what kind of surgery I have, whether or not chemo is recommended.

So LOTS to pray about. A "not positive" test result for the BRCA genes sounds like a good prayer. Also, trust that God has this all in His Hands. Peace for my brain that wants to go down all sorts of different pathways. Wisdom as we keep sorting through all the possible paths to take.

We had a great Presidents' Day weekend on our now annual trek over to Black Butte in Central Oregon with the Harrels. Though we thought we'd be snowshoeing, you can see photos of why we hiked instead.

Our goal for the hike - Tamolitch Pool. Super clear, water looks very blue. Upstream of here, the McKenzie River goes underground for awhile and then re-emerges into this pool.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! I'm glad you have time to get out and relax that busy brain!