Went to see my surgeon Mr Krupa today.
This is the man who gave me my official cancer diagnosis last July but with reassurance that everything was going to be ok. He's the man who operated on me on Monday last week to remove the cancer. And he's the man who gave me my post-surgery pathology results today. Here they are!...
About the cancer
He removed ten lymph nodes and they've been studied by a pathologist (clever lab rat). Only the first two had cancer in. This is brilliant news! It means that the cancer has almost certainly not spread anywhere else in my body. The lymph nodes are in a chain and cancer travels through them in order. It had made it to the first and second but no further than that. Huzzah!
The pathologist also studied the breast tissue that was removed including what was left of the cancer. The cancer had not completed disappeared, but did have a very good response to chemo. Importantly there were at least 10mm margins around all of the cancer. This doesn't sound like much but turns out is excellent. "Clear margins" - ie enough healthy tissue around a tumour that they feel happy all cancer has been removed, are margins of 2mm. So a minimum of 10mm is great.
What all this means is it's no longer definite that I'll be having radiotherapy. They will discuss this next week at the multidisciplinary team meeting - this is the team of people in charge of my treatment (including Mr Krupa, my Breast Care Nurse, my oncologist, the therapeutic radiographer). When I say it is no longer definite that I will be having radiotherapy what I mean is I am definitely having radiotherapy still, because I want full on belt and braces treatment, blast, blast, blast. Mr Krupa told me to keep an open mind but I'd made my feelings clear and I reckon he's got my back in the MDT meeting next week.
About the recovery from surgery
All going well peeps! Wounds have been healing spectacularly, and Mr Krupa is a perfectionist meaning that everything he's done is really, really neat. The scars are going to be so thin and tiny. I'm so impressed! Worth those 8 hours under general anaesthetic. The only thing is I have a seroma on my back (this was almost certainly going to happen). It's a load of fluid under the skin by my back wound. I couldn't even tell, I've not had any issues, but according to my friend Lucy I have a patch of my back which is swollen and wobbles like jelly/a hot water bottle. If it doesn't go down they may need to stick a needle in my back next week and let it ooze out. Lush. I'll make sure to get a photo for the blog if that happens.
I now just have to stay at home for at least 4 weeks being really bloody careful and keeping out of trouble. Luckily for me, trouble includes things like cooking and washing up. As well as the outside wounds that I have from surgery, there's a lot going on inside - I've had muscles and tendons and blood vessels rearranged and stitched up internally. I need to allow all those internal wounds to heal properly. Do too much now, things come apart inside, and I will upset Mr Krupa (and have to go back in to surgery) and that's the last thing I want to do. So I sit on my arse for a bit longer while my friends run round for me on demand. Nice!
And then what?
Radiotherapy. (There WILL be radiotherapy!). Preventive surgery (breast cancer ) by removing and reconstructing the other breast. Preventive surgery (ovarian cancer) by removing ovaries. Starting on drugs, hopefully tamoxifen, to reduce risk of recurrence of this cancer (for 5-10 years). Going back to the Genetics Clinic to discuss my exciting new Mutant status and whether that needs any further action. Recovering from everything that's happened to date. There's still a lot to be done. But.... it doesn't quite seem so scary any more at least.
What have we learned from this, kids?
The NHS is incredible, it saves lives, and it does it in the most wonderful way. I cannot speak highly enough about the care I have received to date. Simple as that. Don't vote Tory :-)
Lots of love!
Here is me outside the hospital today. I wanted to jump up and down with my arms in the air. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to jump up and down and I can't get my left arm in the air. So this had to do!