Its time to meet my Nurse Navigator. This is a free service offered by the Coliseum Cancer Center in Macon, Georgia. This is a person who will bean educator and advocate for me and my family throughout my cancer journey.
My husband goes with me to this appointment because we both have questions. The first thing she does is give me her cell phone number. I can call or text anytime there is something she may be able to help with. Her name is Kim and I have to say she has been my BEST source of information.
She went over my biopsy results. My cancer is Stage 1 (that’s a small good thing) and it is triple negative. Triple negative means the cause of my cancer is not hormonal. There are three types of cancer caused by our body’s hormones. There is a maintenance treatment pill for those types. I don’t know all of the specifics since it didn’t apply to me.
She answers all our questions. My options are most likely to be a lumpectomy with radiation and chemotherapy or a mastectomy with chemotherapy. She has my genetics results and I have no genetic markers for cancer.
My cancer began in the duct of the breast. It grew out of the duct. My cancer is considered invasive. If it hadn’t broke free of the duct it would have been non-invasive. There are more than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed each year. Invasive is more serious because it can spread to other parts of the body. What this means to me, is that no matter what option I choose I will have to go through chemotherapy.
She tells me my doctor has scheduled an MRI to see if it looks like there is any other cancer earlier tests missed and if my lymph nodes appear clear. Its time to go home, wait for the MRI appointment and think about my options.
MRI is Magnetic resonance imaging. This is a test using magnetic fields to create a clear image if your internal body. They will do the MRI on both my breasts just to be precautionary.
Lumpectomy is the surgical removal of the tumor and the area around it.
Radiation is using x-rays to try to kill any lingering cancer cells. It is hard on your skin. It often leaves you looking sunburned and skin takes on a leathery look by the end of treatment.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment most often given by IV or port to kill any stray cancer cells. It is hard on the body. It also kills healthy cells while killing bad cells. You can lose your hair, get very sick, drop weight etc. There are varying side effects depending on exactly which chemotherapy medication the doctor prescribes.
Mastectomy is the removal of the entire breast. At the time of the mastectomy they also remove the sentinel lymph nodes to verify they are cancer free.