I got my Oncotype score back and I am in the low risk category!
Okay, what does that mean? Well, with a low Oncotype score if I didn't have that pesky micro metastatic bit of cancer in my first sentinel lymph node then I would not have to do chemo. But of course since they did find that .7mm smidge the current wisdom is to do chemo therapy.
So, how is that good news then, you may be wondering?
Well, the Oncotype score is based on a 21 gene assessment of my actual tumor specimen to gauge the aggressiveness of my individual cancer cells. The tests indicate the likelihood of a recurrence. The score is broken down into three categories, low, intermediate and high. Any score less then 18 is low, mine was 16 -- again, if it weren't for the micro mets in my node, chemo would be out.
Now, my oncological surgeon felt that my positive node was due to something called displacement...basically when they remove the tumors from the breast during biopsy or surgery some microscopic bits of cancer can break lose and end up caught in the first sentinel lymph node. That's far different than if it migrated there by itself, if the cancer spread of its own volition.
However, usually if there's a positive lymph node then they go back and do an axillary dissection, meaning they take out all the lymph nodes. This is both to diagnose if the cancer got further up the system and potentially could have spread elsewhere and to prevent a future recurrence in the lymphatic system later. But my second sentinel lymph node was clear...and while it's technically possible for cancer cells to skip nodes along the chain, it's not as likely.
Plus I've been scanned up the wazoo throughout this whole process...from MRI, PET, CAT, and a few other initials combinations tossed in for good measure. Not one suspicious bit of anything anywhere else.
What this all says to me is that while it's unfortunate I may not know for sure how that microscopic tidbit of cancer hit my first node, it is good news that my recurrence rate would probably be low to begin with...so chemo should successfully annihilate any unlikely but potential malignant cells that could have theoretically made it out of the breast.
Sooooooo......I am fairly sure I'm going to get to forgo an axillary dissection, which my surgeon agrees with as well, tho some oncologists might disagree -- in fact, this is a hot button issue in the cancer world right now. But I feel that this is the right course of action. Losing your lymph nodes can lead to some major life-long health issues that I don't want to deal with if I don't have to.
Chemo is still necessary just in case, but it is also very likely overkill (literally) and that makes me feel better somehow. Well, sort of.
The other bit of good news is that my wound has made wonderful progress according to everyone that looks at it -- the plastic surgeon, the visiting nurse and the hyperbaric RN's & MDs. I can't really tell too much of a difference yet myself but all assure me that I am healing rapidly and whatever I'm doing I should keep it up.
So, what am I doing? Along with the hyperbaric therapy I am consuming protein, protein, and more protein -- that's what wound healing needs most. Additionally I'm eating plenty of nutrient rich vegetables and grains and practically no sugars. And just to be extra sure I get my vitamins I've added some supplements that promote skin health/growth: A, D, zinc and iron (I was found to be iron deficient from the surgery due to blood loss). I'm also taking something called QBC-plex and a homeopathic remedy called Arnica. Those last two were highly recommended by someone on the message boards at BreastCancer.org -- and after researching it myself I thought they sounded like exactly what I needed. My wonderful nurse discussed it with me today and she wholeheartedly agreed with my choice -- always a good thing to have traditional medical professionals check out anything supplemental one takes.
Well, there you have it, my good news for the weekend -- many thanks to all who gave me extra love after my last post, your lovely kindness, that good cry and this heartening Oncotype score has lifted my spirits immensely :)
Have a great weekend!!!