St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Margo Home!

Margo at home in her "hospital room settings."  She has a sore chest, but Oxycodone is quite wonderful for killing pain and
bringing a smile to her face!

Margo has the start of hair regrowth! It is coming in quite dark--so she is pleased with that.  In a few weeks, she can choose to have a flat top haircut, just like her 87 year old father Merlin, who got one  in the service back in 1946 and has kept the style and his dark hair ever since!   
Wednesday March 13 
Update.  Got a call from the surgeon today.  The pathologist finished examining the removed breast and lymph node tissue.   At the start of chemo there were several tumors including one large 5 cm one in the breast and at least one lymph node with cancer (they biopsied only one).   The good news was that there was no cancer remaining in the breast tissue and in the 6 lymph nodes removed and identified, there was only one with some cancer cells--a spot about 1 millimeter in size or less.
  What this means is that since chemo has gotten rid of all of the known cancer in the breast and all but the one lymph node, it is also likely to have gotten rid of any that may have spread elsewhere in the body.   This info goes into making the decision to do radiation or not with the complication of Margo's arm and hand swelling.  My guess is they will probably say radiation is not required and probably not a good idea--generally radiation is not a good idea if one has scleroderma--maybe what Margo has in the hand and arm.  But we will find all that out next Monday when we visit the doctors again.     

Tuesday March 12th
Margo came home late yesterday afternoon.   She is doing good.  The surgery site is sore and needs regular pain killers yet, and two drainage tubes are likely to be in for a week or so, but she is pleased to be home again.

Next week she visits the oncologist and radiologist to talk about radiation therapy.   The plan was to  do 35 , 5-day per week sessions April and May.   However there is some concern that the radiation may further damage her swollen arm and hand, so the doctors hinted that if no cancer cells were found in the removed breast and lymph nodes, radiation may not be needed.

Margo's triple negative type of breast cancer is treated quite aggressively as it is not easily defeated, and there is no "standard" treatment like there is in the other three types of breast cancer.  Thus the  long and multiple drugs used in chemo, the radical mastectomy and the radiation in the plan.  That said, the doctors were very encouraged that the tumors and lymph node cancers seem to have totally disapppeared after chemo, and their giving the possibility of skipping radiation.

The theory is that if the chemo had totally gotten rid of all of the known cancer in her left breast and lymph nodes; and since the chemo treatment goes through the whole body; it has likely gotten rid of any cancer cells wherever they may be hiding out.   The initial pathology report back from the tissues is that there was no cancer in them left.   However, a closer look is being done to be sure.   And, if there is no cancer found, then radiation may be a choice rather than an necessity. Next week with the doctor visits we will discuss it all.   The complicating factor is Margo's left hand and arm that are likely to be damaged more by radiation.

In the meantime, Margo is walking around, eating, and other than twinges of pain when she moves the arm and her pain killers wear off (she has to learn how often to take them), she is doing well.  Thanks for your thoughts, prayers and support.