Testing & Diagnosis
Day 35: Met my oncologist at LMH today. She’s great. She recommends some additional tests to help determine my treatment plan.
Today I met my oncologist, Dr. Sharon Soule, at the LMH Oncology Center. We discussed the fact that my grandmother had breast cancer in her seventies, which means I have a family history of the disease. Worse yet, it’s possible I inherited a much-unwanted mutation in my BRCA1 gene or BRCA2 gene, which would significantly increase my risk of both breast cancer (or in my case, more breast cancer down the road) as well as ovarian cancer.
Am I feeling more frightened now than in my last post? Yes, absolutely. Things just got all too real. And here’s the scariest part:
If I did, in fact, inherit a BRCA gene mutation, I could be facing a double mastectomy, a hysterectomy AND an oophorectomy (removal of my ovaries) if I want to truly fight the odds of cancer plaguing my life. Yes, that’s scary. Incredibly scary. But nothing is certain yet, so I’m keeping my full-on freak-out at bay for now.
Dr. Soule ordered a BRCA gene test to determine my status. They drew my blood at LMH Oncology Center, but there are only two labs in the country that do this type of testing, so the results take a couple weeks. Once we have those answers, my doctors can create my surgical treatment plan.
As far as chemotherapy is concerned, we also need to know more about my cancer type to determine if I will benefit from chemo. Because it was caught early, surgery will be enough for now. If my chance of recurrence is high, however, chemotherapy is a recommended course of treatment as well. Fortunately, they have a blood test for that, too (called Oncotype DX). Stay tuned because I’m going to have LOTS of updates once those test results come in, which will also take a couple of weeks.
Till then, happy thoughts! The power of positive thinking. To that end, I just want to say some words of thanks for the physicians who are now on this journey with me. Dr. Soule is absolutely fantastic. I already knew that to some degree – she’s the same board-certified oncologist who helped my friend beat breast cancer at LMH Oncology Center a few years ago. But after meeting Dr. Soule in person today, now I know firsthand why Coletta spoke so highly of her.
The first thing she did when we met today? She hugged me. I didn’t expect that level of human touch from an oncologist – I pictured a purely clinical encounter going in – but her embrace meant the world to me. Somehow, through just that one simple gesture, Dr. Soule let me know she understands more than my cancer – she also gets my fears and uncertainties, and she’ll help me fight the source of my struggles. I’m confident I can trust her to take care of me because she signaled right away that she genuinely cares about me.
Clinical excellence with a personal touch – that’s exactly what I need, folks! I feel so lucky to have it right here in my own community, so close to home. I have the same level of confidence in Dr. Kolkman, my surgeon at LMH, who made all the right decisions for me along the path to diagnosis. I’m glad he will continue as my surgeon throughout treatment. I already know how much my health and healing means to him.
Thanks for indulging me as I push through the fears and find my way to gratitude. It takes a conscious effort to stay upbeat during times like these, and writing about my experience helps me process the many competing emotions inside me.
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