Today I went to see the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist and the breast surgeon.
We have a plan.
Assuming the chemo goes as expected (ie my immune system keeps rebounding and I don't get any infections), I'll be having a lumpectomy and axial dissection (with sentinel node injection) sometime late July or early August. That is a three day hospital stay. Then I do set up for radiotherapy 4 weeks later and start radiotherapy 5 or 6 weeks after the surgery. Radiotherapy goes for six weeks, 5 days a week at the same hospital that I'm getting chemo at. That's a good hour round trip five days a week - just like work! Except I'm not working and I need to have 2 minutes of treatment not 7.5 hours of work a day. They will be targetting the areas of surgery and the lymph nodes at the base of my neck, just to be sure. The sixth week of radiotherapy is a "booster" on the surgical site itself.
I should be done like a dinner by my birthday. Stick a fork in me, I'm done! (Mebbe not - likely to hurt) Hooray! That will make it almost 9 months of treatment, rather like a baby only without the baby at the end... but heck, it will give me a decent shot at living out my expected life span, not a cancer shortened one and that has to be good! I might need to have an end of treatment and happy birthday party :-)
So the test results were pretty good. The PET scan at the start showed three very obvious spots - BC and two lymph nodes - apart from the expected heart, kidneys and bladder. The PET scan halfway through chemo shows a small shadow in the breast and nothing else (except the expected heart, kidneys and bladder). The biopsy at the start had pretty much 100% tumour cells, now it has 30% (I should've asked if that meant mitotic figures or what). The tumour has shrunk quite a bit, enough that they are looking at doing a lumpectomy not boobectomy.
All in all I am happy. I know what I am up against, I know what I have to put up with and hopefully at the end we get a good result. I'll be calling on folks for some help though - things like for two weeks after surgery, I can't lift anything with my right arm and I'll be limited in what I can do. Can't drive, for example (especially given Helmet does not have power steering), various of the women I've talked to online can't cook, etc. Can't do washing - dishes or clothes. I'll have horrible drains hanging around me for anything up to a week. Yep, they put tubes in to the surgical sites to drain excess fluid (read blood and extracellular fluid) and that fluid gets caught in bulby type things.
Now I just have to put up with another three chemo treatments. The chemo oncologist said that with taxotere, people have the most side effects from the first treatment. Here's hoping! He also said that glaucoma can be a side effect of the dexamethasone and that yes, maybe half the symptoms I have are from the dexa. Blah. But given I've been feeling pretty good this last week or so, I can put up with a week of feeling like I've been run over by a truck (minus the track marks). The alternative isn't!