We are excited to finally get some positive news, although there is bad news as well.
We got a call last night with results from two more tests: an MRI in which they put a fluid into Nicole’s chest that “lights up” in the MRI anywhere that there is cancer, and a biopsy of a lymph node near her left breast that was enlarged and suspicious looking to our surgeon. First the bad, but expected news – there is cancer in the lymph node, so it has spread a little bit. The good news, however, is that there was no evidence of cancer in any other lymph nodes, which gets her a score of “N-1″ which means that the spread is contained to only one or a few lymph nodes. We also got a clean scan of the right breast, which is great, and they confirmed that the only cancer evident in the left breast is the tumor we have already identified. They also put the tumor at “T-1″ which means they still think it is small (under 2CM). Our surgeon thinks the cancer stage is II-A or II-B. That means a small or medium size tumor (we are close to 2 centimeters, which is the break line) that has spread into one or more adjacent lymph nodes.
Also, we have found out that ”triple negative” breast cancer is pretty rare (15% to 20% of the cases), and essentially, it means that a lot of the drugs that are proven to be successful at keeping cancer at bay don’t work in this case. For example, estrogen is fuel for cancer growth, so you can take a drug to mitigate your production of estrogen in many cases, which helps. Nicole’s cancer is not sensitive to estrogen, which means that those drugs won’t help us. Most of what we have found indicates that chemotherapy is the primary treatment for this type of cancer. There are a lot of promising medicines going through various stages of clinical trials, though, and we are looking into those.
Next steps are meeting with two different oncologists. We have an appointment with Dr Kristina Bowen, a referral from our primary surgeon and a friend of a friend, at Georgia Cancer Specialists on Monday morning. We’re also having Nicole’s records sent to Emory to Dr. Ruth O’Regan, a widely-published clinical researcher with a specific interest in triple negative breast cancers. We are eager to meet with both and hear their counsel.
Thanks as always for the support.