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Friday, August 10, 2007


Some background (for those who didn't get the letter I sent out about a month ago)

This is a rather dry, technical post, meant to provide information, rather than entertainment. You can skip it if you want!

Two years ago (July 2005) I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I had DCIS –which is cancer in the milk ducts. The cancer is contained and doesn't behave the same way as invasive cancer. Some even refer to this as "pre-cancer", since there is supposed to be no threat of metastesis.

In September 2005, I had my first surgery: a lumpectomy and a sentinel node biopsy (they inject the breast with a dye in order to identify the lymph nodes that the breast drains into first, then those lymph nodes are removed and biopsied.) Usually 1-3 lymph nodes are removed. I had 8 lymph nodes removed. All the lymph nodes were cancer free, but the DCIS was a bit more widespread. In December 2005, I went to the US for a "three in one": mastectomy & reconstruction and, as a bonus, they fixed my hernia at the same time! ;-)

The combination of the type of breast cancer (DCIS) & the clear lymph nodes, led the doctors to believe that I would not have to worry again about cancer on that side.

In June 2007, in my annual mammogram/ultrasound, the radiologist detected swollen lymph nodes. He was not overly concerned, because that can often happen, but he took a cell biopsy to check. The biopsy came back suspicious, so he did a core biopsy. While waiting for the results, I had my annual oncology visit. I asked my oncologist about the lymph nodes and he said that it was highly unlikely to be cancer.

I got the results on the first day of summer vacation: there is cancer in my axillary lymph nodes.

So I met with my surgeon and we made up the initial game plan: tests to make sure the cancer didn't spread. I did the usual array of tests: bone scans, CT, blood tests, etc.

To our surprise, and dismay, we discovered that the cancer has metastasized. I also have cancer in my bones, liver and lungs.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

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