Thursday, March 17, 2011

Health journey continues ....

Abnormalities in my latest breast MRI have taken me back into the rollercoaster of more tests and procedures. And with this next round I bring with me the calm, healing energy of the wild dolphins I was  honored to swim with last July in Bimini.

I met with my surgeon yesterday then drove down to Mayo today to meet with my doctors there to get a second opinion. My doctors in the cities are recommending an MRI guided biopsy. Originally the radiologist here said only the new lesion at the 12 o'clock position needed to be biopsied. My surgeon yesterday said she's concerned about the new lesion in my left breast at the 6 o'clock position and would recommend that lesion also being biopsied. It's larger than the written report says. Mayo confirmed that it is as large as the lesion at the 12 o'clock position (1.5 cm) which is concerning since it indicates new growth since my surgical biopsy last October. Mayo also confirmed that both lesions appear to be very similar and they would definitely recommend that both lesions be biopsied. Everyone is in agreement that the area in my right breast that lit up in the MRI is of no concern. It's very small and looks like my lymph node lighting up which simply means it's working. So ... tomorrow I go in for what will be my 5th biopsy in less than 2 years .... 3 surgical biopsies and now my second MRI guided biopsy.

I spent the entire day down at Mayo meeting with my doctors and waiting for them to review all my recent scans. What an incredible group of doctors. I am amazed at how knowledgeable, compassionate and willing to spend whatever time is necessary to ensure that I have all my questions answered and that I am given as much information I need to help me in my decision making process. They shared with me that I am an unusual case and that it's apparent with my history that there is something going on with the cells in my breasts. It's persistent and progressively getting worse ... with abnormal cells proliferating. My doctor went into this discussion on cells, DNA and my immune system. She also shared with me that as much research as Mayo is doing they do not know what triggers cancer and why one person can fight off cancer while another's genes somehow have some kind of mutation that prevents them from fighting off the cancer cells. She said that in my case, it's most likely a case of "when" and not "if" I get cancer based on all the pathology reports and surgeries I've had and the findings thus far. So I went on to ask, " so if it is a 'when' ... will the first case of cancer being found be DCIS or non-invasive cancer?" She said unfortunately not. In my case my cells appear to be taking on a life of it's own, and that's what happens with cancer. She said what's also concerning is that it's persistent. And not only is it persistent but it's progressively becoming more aggressive as she (and my surgeon did as well) shared with me how drastically different my MRI from a week ago is from the one taken 6 months ago. Where there was nothing 6 months ago there are now large lesions. She went on to say, she's seen cases where women have had nothing showing up on any tests and then something triggers the cancer to just explode and they are diagnosed with an aggressive invasive cancer. She's also seen cancer that has progressed slowly. She went on to say that whatever path I choose must be a very personal choice and be something that feels right to me -- there is no right or wrong she says. My case is a very hard one because i'm in a gray area. Essentially my body is screaming out to me that something is going on, but to this point I haven't been able to get all pathologists to consistently agree. I'm still on that borderline of atypical ductal hyperplasia and cancer but with every 6 months showing progression to more chaos in my cell structure and increased proliferation. All I know is that all of my doctors are very concerned and stumped by my case. I asked my surgeon in the cities and my doctor at Mayo if they have other cases like me. Both said no, that my case is definitely unusual. So I posed to her, even if I had a double mastectomy that doesn't mean that I won't get cancer (assuming I don't already have it) since we don't really know yet what we are 'fighting' against and what kind of cancer is just waiting to erupt inside of my body. She nodded. She did suggest that after my biopsy that I consider genetic testing which will test me for whether I have the gene mutation in my DNA that shows that I am unable to fight off certain kinds of cancer (breast, ovarian, pancreatic and melanoma).

So for now, I move forward with the biopsy tomorrow. The pathology reports will hopefully come back early next week and if atypia or cancer is found then I will need to have a surgical biopsy to remove the entire lesions and surrounding tissue to get a clean margin.

I head to Fairview Southdale tomorrow at 8 am and have been told to plan to be there the entire day. They are going to attempt to locate the lesions with an ultrasound in the morning then get me prepped for the MRI guided biopsy for the afternoon if they are unable to locate it with the ultrasound. As I go back into the tube for the MRI guided biopsy I will bring with me the dolphins ... the combination of being in a tube and the vibrations from drilling through my body to the lesions are body memories from last August that sends chills through my body. With two sites to go after I know it will be much longer. Hopefully this go around at least I won't have a hematoma :)

I believe in the healing power of prayer. I ask for my friends and family to send loving and healing energy not only my way but out into the universe for anyone who needs it.


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