Saturday, July 10, 2010

What I Know So Far, Part 2

Guess what! I CAN SEW! I had a pair of pants with a wide cuff, and I had taken the hem out and wanted to re-hem it without the cuff to increase the inseam.

It was way easier than I thought. I went home & put them in the laundry. Now I'll just need to iron out the old hem-fold.

  • Positive margins for invasive carcinoma - margins refers to the border around the tumor when it was cut out. Positive margins means there are some areas on the "slice" where the tumor goes all the way to the edge, indicating that some of the tumor was not removed. (This is bad.)
  • Negative margins for in situ carcinoma - this is the opposite; there is normal tissue entirely surrounding the dcis tumor, which means they were able to remove the whole thing.
  • No evidence of superficial dermal lymphatic invasion - dermal invasion would be it spreading to the skin, which would be really bad. But it didn't, so that's good.
  • Angiolymphatic invasion - present, focal. angio = blood, and lymphatic = kind of like a cleaning fluid. Both of these are fluid-based systems that flow throughout the body. So if cancer invades those systems, that's one way it can spread. So that's not good. Focal = little bits, not a lot, though, and that's good.
  • Perineural invasion - present, focal. Same type of thing; the cancer can apparently also spread through the nervous system. I didn't know that. Stiiink.

  • Another tangent - because of the possibility that the cancer has spread to these systems, it's quite likely that I will need to do some chemotherapy. These are drugs that kill cells that are growing, so it targets the cancer cells. That's also why it makes your hair fall out.

  • Microcalcifications present in association with DCIS - micro = small, calcification = gritty buildup; these are a symptom of DCIS (which I already know I have anyway).
  • Malignant tumor receptors strongly positive - estrogen 89%, progesterone 78%. Malignant means that it's growing. This means that estrogen and progesterone make the tumor grow more. Therefore, lowering the amount of these hormones in my body is one way we can fight this cancer. There are two ways that have been suggested - I can get my ovaries removed, or I can take medicine that would have a similar effect. I'm leaning toward the surgery. After all, "oopharectomy" is just fun to say!
  • Malignant tumor HER-2/neu overexpression negative. HER-2/neu is some kind of chemical or enzyme. I really don't know. But it's used as a way of determining what's likely to happen. Cancers that are HER-2/neu positive tend to be a lot more aggressive, so it's good that mine showed a negative reaction.
  • M.T. Ki-67 proliferative index intermediate. Same kind of thing. It's like saying if your soda is dark-colored, it's more likely to have caffeine in it. Anyway, this one is a "middle" reaction, so not terrible, but not great either.

On to page 2! yay!

  • Gross description - this is where they describe what the specimen looks like. And it IS pretty gross... the tumor itself is a "slightly gritty creamy white nodule" - kind of makes it sound like the gunk inside a pimple! UGH!
  • Tumor Profile
    • Lymph node sample - none present. They didn't examine my lymph nodes because nobody knew they'd need to! But that's one way that they can check to see if the cancer is spreading.
    • Details on specimen - size, location, etc.
    • Tumor focality - single focus of invasive carcinoma. I have no idea what this means.
    • Skin - invasive carcinoma directly invades into the dermis or epidermis without skin ulceration - I think this means the skin is not inflamed, which is good.
    • DCIS present, no extensive intraductal component. Yay! The DCIS is limited. Last time I had these they were speckled all throughout my ducts. So that's good.
    • DCIS size 2 mm - not sure if that's good or bad.
    • Tumor histology - invasive carcinoma with ductal and lobular features. Histology is the study of tissue. So this is about the features of the tumor. What's interesting is that it has lobular features; there's no note about what those features are. I want to check that.

Most of the rest of it repeats the summary from before.

Next - summary & upcoming decisions.


Mrs. Chili said...

This isn't going to sound right, so do whatever adjustments you need to do to make it sound like you know I'm intending it, but I am SO happy that you're documenting this as you go. I'm learning a lot from you, and I love that you're giving your readers an opportunity to be a support network for you as you navigate your way through this. Thank you.

Still vibing.



Clix said...

I'm not sure what might sound wrong about that. One of the "good" things about this is that, well, it gives me SOMETHING to write about! lol! ;)

But yeah... process is important. I mean, unless a story is just gripping me I tend to flip to the end to see how it turns out. And then, IF it's still interesting, I'll go back and keep reading, because what I want to know is how and why it happens.

Joan said...

I thank you for documenting this journey. You're in my thoughts...

A wonderful, young mom I know (she does my hair) had a mastectomy a few weeks ago and starts chemo this week. You're really helping me understand her situation.

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