Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our Cancer Journey Week 25

This week, Kathy got tattooed.    Under the watchful eye of radiation oncology experts, 5 alignment dots were place on her body (2 ribs, 2 center line, 1 at the left breast) to ensure that her radiation treatments are consistently positioned.  

Last week, we visited with her radiation oncologist and consented to treatment over the next 7 weeks.   He wrote

"RECOMMENDATIONS:  The patient is an appropriate candidate for breast-conserving therapy, which is her preference.  In view of the complete pathologic response in the breast, we feel it reasonable to give axillary radiation therapy for regional control rather than to use axillary dissection.  I explained the risks and benefits of this treatment to the patient.  She agreed to proceed with radiation therapy.  She signed the departmental consent form, a copy of which I gave her.  Arrangements for radiation treatment planning and start date have been made."

The tattoos are barely noticeable - the size of comma.  They were applied by placing pigment on the skin followed by a single needle poke at each site.    No fashion statement, no body piercing!

She begins her daily radiation therapy on June 14.   There will be direct radiation to the area of her left breast at the original tumor site and to the left underarm where a single lymph node with micrometastatis was found.

Her numbness is slowly improving but her feet continue to hurt after a few hours running around the farm.

She also had a surgical followup appointment this morning.   Her surgical outcome was so good that there is virtually no lasting evidence of the trauma her body has experienced over the past 6 months.   As her radiation oncologist wrote

" The left breast has a well-healed circumareolar scar with some volume loss, postoperative induration, and edema.  There are no suspicious masses or skin lesions.  There is no arm edema, and range of motion is normal. "

At this point, her surgical treatment is done and she'll followup with her surgeon after a mammogram in 6 months to ensure all is well.  

She'll followup with her Oncologist  next month to begin a 5 year course of Tamoxifen (anti-estrogen, given that her tumor was estrogen sensitive)

With chemotherapy and surgery behind her, all that remains ahead is 7 weeks of radiation therapy, 5 years of anti-estrogens, and continued check in with her care team to ensure Kathy remains a cancer survivor for many years to come!

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