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Newly diagnosed

lhakons
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2000

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The tumor is 2-3cm, not attached to anything. The biopsy says invasive ductal carcinoma, tests negative for all receptors. Margins are involved.

I've met with surgeon, and am currently considering lumpectomy vs. mastectomy (a relative also recently diagnosed has decided to go the whole way and have a bilateral, so that's on the table too). I'm fairly large-breasted, so I know that if I have a mastectomy I will want at least some reconstruction just to feel balanced.

I also met with an oncologist, and I'm told chemo is inevitable, and radiation too, if the nodes are involved.

So now what? Can anyone tell me what pitfalls I should watch for, anyone have positive experiences to share or things I should ask about?

I'd really appreciate a chance to learn from others' experiences.

Thanks!
Lisa

jackies
Posts: 30
Joined: Sep 2000

Hi Lisa. I'm Jackie. Welcome to CSN. You won't find a better support group anywhere. I'd like to share my history with you, since we share some things in common. In July(2000) I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. I had a 3x4cm tumor in my right breast and 2 swollen lymph nodes under my right arm. Unlike you, I am small breasted, so I assumed that I would have to have a mastectomy. It turned out that the surgeon I was sent to believes strongly in "breast-conserving" surgery (whenever possible). He told me that the newest approach to breast cancer treatment is to give chemo first. In 80% of chemo cases, there will be some shrinkage of the tumor. This allows for the possible option of lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. By the way, he showed me recent statistics that show there is no difference in survival rate for lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. So, since I was dreading the prospect of radical surgery, I decided to give this new approach a try. I joined a clinical trial in which I'll get 4 cycles of Adriamycin/Cytoxan, followed by 4 courses of Taxotere, followed by surgery (probably lumpectomy), followed by radiation. After the 4 cycles of A/C, the lump in my breast and the swollen nodes have disappeared! I have 3 more treatments of Taxotere. Then I'll have another mammogram, then surgery. The Dr. cannot promise me that there won't be any malignant tissue in either my breast or lymph nodes (although it is possible), but he said there will probably not be any need to remove much tissue. Needless to say, I'm praising God for such results. Another good reason to consider getting chemo before surgery is that you will know for sure whether the chemo drugs you are taking are actually effective in killing your particular cancer cells. When chemo is given after surgery, there is no way to be certain that those particular drugs will actually kill any possible remaining cancer cells or not. Now this new treatment method is probably not right for some BC patients, but I am sure glad I tried it. Since the survival rate for mastectomy and lumpectomy are the same, I figure I can always have my breast removed in the future, should that become necessary. But once it's gone, it's gone. If you'd like any more details about the study I'm in, just let me know. Sorry to be so long-winded. Best of luck with your decision. Jackie

lhakons
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2000

Thanks, Jackie! My docs did discuss that option, but they weren't really promoting it. I'll ask about the chemo question.

lhakons
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2000

Thanks, Jackie! My docs did discuss that option, but they weren't really promoting it. I'll ask about the chemo question.

I'm glad to see you expressing your faith in God -- I don't see how anyone could face this without Him! He's really kept me through this -- I never really understood that peace that passes all understanding before.

tiger
Posts: 292
Joined: Oct 2000

Hi Lisa, Tiger here, if you read my web page you will find my full story so I dont repeat myself. If I had foresight when I had my mastectomy I would have had the other breast removed at the same time ,I am also large breasted and it is very noticeable that I am flat on one side, but after a year now i am comfortable enough that I do not wear my prostesis, it is very heavy and awkward. I am eventually going to have the recon on the one side once i am done my chemo, and i am going to ask them to remove my other breast and do recon at the same time. This way I dont have to worry about cancer in the other breast in the future and going through this again, I have been doing chemo for the past year as the cancer had spread to my liver, anyone that says do a lumpectomy is nuts, then you will always be wondering if it is coming back again. Chemo can be a real pain in the behind, but if it prolongs life,what are a few days of pain and misery? I am in this for the long haul and personally I am kicking butt. It is your body and only you can make the choice of what to do, you will know in your gut you are doing the right thing.Go with your first gut instinct,once the confusion clears away and you will be fine. We are here to support you and help you along the way.
Fight the good fight and kick some butt!!!! Tiger

lhakons
Posts: 26
Joined: Nov 2000

Hi, Tiger!

Thanks! I appreciate your advice, and you and Jackie will both be in my prayers! You're both wise ladies!

Blessings!
Lisa

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