My Cancer Diagnosis

On this page, my husband and I have decided to update our friends and family who want to know about my recent cancer diagnosis and our progress.  This doesn’t mean we don’t want you to check in with us - in fact, we really appreciate the phone calls and messages.  But it is a convenient way to distribute the info that is coming so quickly and seems to change daily.  Two weeks ago – February 6 – I found a lump above my left breast, by complete accident (please, my friends, examine yourselves every month).  I was ready to leave the house and absentmindedly touched my chest to make sure the tiny bumps I’d seen earlier (heat rash from exercise?) wouldn’t be visible through my V-neck shirt.  Instead, my fingers brushed against a hard, bigger-than-pea-sized-something under my skin.  I knew right away that it shouldn’t be there.

Ironically, I’d just scheduled my annual screening mammogram the day before.  So I changed the appointment to a diagnostic mammogram.

Fast forward 2 days, and the ultrasound that followed the mammogram (routine when you or your doctor feels something) confirmed that the mass was solid and not cystic or liquid.  A biopsy on Valentine’s Day confirmed that the tumor was cancer, “infiltrating ductal carcinoma.”  The size of the tumor on ultrasound was 1.4cm, so they were hopeful that it was Stage 1.  It was strongly recommended that I find a surgeon.

My OBGYN and several friends recommended Breast Care Specialists in Atlanta out of Northside Hospital.  Joey and I met with Dr Carrie Stallings on 2/22.

We found out that I have “triple negative” breast cancer, which means it’s not estrogen sensitive, not progesterone sensitive and not Her-2 positive.  My mom was diagnosed with Her-2 positive breast cancer at age 56 – she’s 61 and healthy today.

Other news at this visit that we weren’t bargaining for:  The Ki-67 Index, or proliferation rate, of the tumor is 78%, so the odds of the cancer spreading are high.  Also, when the surgeon examined me she felt an enlarged lymph node.  I stayed to have it biopsied (results in a few days), but it seemed to us that she was sure it has cancer in it, too.  That would make it at least Stage 2.  We also scheduled an MRI to check the other breast.

As far as treatment goes, Dr. Stallings believes I’ll have chemo in addition to surgery.  Whether surgery is a lumpectomy or mastectomy is up to us.  We were hoping to leave with a surgery date, but it’s already horribly clear that nothing about this will be simple.  If we choose mastectomy, they do reconstruction at the same time, so it needs to be coordinated with a plastic surgeon.  And there’s also a question as to which comes first – chemo or surgery.  The surgeon doesn’t have a strong opinion either way, but an oncologist likely will.  So now we schedule appts with an oncologist and a plastic surgeon.

Our very charmed life has been completely rocked.  We thank all of you for your prayers and support.

Nicole

Comments

  1. Kimberlee Ackerman says:

    Nicole,

    Friend, you will from now on be in our prayers each night. Please know that you will have tons of love and support for you and your precious family. You will be blessed by those whose lives you have touched with your infectious smile and sweet spirit.

    Love,

    Kimberlee Ackerman