A touch of Spring and The Follow-Up

I wanted to bring you a montage of Spring (flowers, pond videos etc) to entertain you all before I went back to my stage 1 breast cancer journey tale. If you’ve just arrived the first instalment is HERE and the second HERE. 

So here is Spring – Cornish style (well in my garden anyway)

You can engage in some peaceful Newt Watching  [click here if reading on email  ] and just listen to the birds in the background! Or a wriggle of Tadpoles [click here if reading on email]
and just look at the flowers – all late – but here they come – and a nice bumble-bee too –  new life – JOY !

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And so now, in a relaxed and positive frame of mind, on to the second part of today’s blog, my stage 1 breast cancer journey continues …

The Follow-Up

Maybe I had over-done it at Belly Dance the Thursday before – but my breast was a bit tender and the bruising was still changing from blue through those wonderful yellow shades, so didn’t look a pretty sight (see below) Not that it would bother the surgeon, I’m sure. He was mostly interested in the healing of the incisions … which was good 🙂

He then went through the results: No cancers cells detected in the margin of ‘healthy’ cells they took out with the tumour. (GOOD NEWS) No cancer in any of the 4 lymph nodes that they took from under my arm. (Extra GOOD News!)

Of the tumour – a total of 22mm – the central 9mm was Grade 2 stage Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – the outer layer ‘intermediate* grade’ Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ (DCIS) (*as in between 1 and 2) Not such good news – as the grade 2 is invasive –  and had already broken out of the milk duct it began in.

To mop-up any stray individual cancer cells – or other cells in the breast that were planning on turning cancerous – 3 weeks radiotherapy was recommended. This is not without risks, varying from minor to major, from as common as one in four to very rare, and can be very uncomfortable and tiring at the time and for a while afterwards.

Then he told me that the cancer was Oestrogen Positive. {often written ER+ because the Americans spell it Estrogen} This means that the cancer uses oestrogen to stimulate it’s growth. Now, being past menopause – you would think there wasn’t too much oestrogen kicking around anyway – however, there’s enough to be a problem! So the recommendation is a five year course of oestrogen blockers ‘hormone therapy’ – that stop the uptake of oestrogen by the cancer cells.

Which – hang on ladies – can throw you back into all those menopause symptoms you thought you had at last got over! Yep! Hot flushes, night-sweats, brain fog – whatever was in your bag. And after doing five years to get through it ‘cold-turkey’ (i.e. no HRT – one thing that is shown to increase chances of breast cancer) is a teensy bit annoying.

However – there are more than one ‘family’ groups of oestrogen blockers – and if you don’t get on with one – say after 6 months (because it takes at  least that long to settle into it) you may be changed to another to find one that does suit you. They say it is rare that someone doesn’t get on with any but with my reactions to so many medicines (and anaesthetics!) I’m a little trepidatious but I intend to take it up…

WHY? well, because taking the oestrogen blocker stops the cancer cells getting hold of their growth boosting ingredient – and this is shown to give a better chance of surviving after having breast cancer treatment.

The doctors will use a tool called Predict – to tell you what your long-term chances are if you ask (that is – five years and ten years after surgery and whichever treatments you have).  Once you have all your details you can find it for yourself here :  PREDICT

The difference that oestrogen blockers make in an oestrogen-positive cancer patient with my details (age, how detected, size of tumour, HER2-,  grade, treatment plan) is 2.9% after ten years (from 79.2% still alive after 10 years, to 82.1%)

So … watch this space – as they say … quite a while to go yet though – radiotherapy first … and I’m not really looking forward to that either having watched Dad go through it all not so long ago!

Oh, I promised you a picture of how it is healing up? … hang on … there – healing well – complete with ‘interesting colours’  🙂wp_20180428_07_30_40_pro

Let me add – this is just my experience. I couldn’t find any early stage breast cancer stories on blogs – so decided that I would do it – for others who want to see what this stage is like ( as opposed to the drastic cases usually written about) Being positive, being informed, and getting on with it, is my way through. Hope you found something useful – and if you want to share your experiences please do use the comments. If you want to praise the bounties of Spring – you can do that too!  🙂

Best Ann

ps If you are reading this on email and would like to comment just click onto the title and it will take you to the actual blog – so you can comment there 🙂

pps If it is the first time you have written a comment don’t worry if it doesn’t appear immediately, your first comment has to be verified (to keep the spam-bots out) and I do this personally – so I am sure to see your comment – thanks for reading – Ann

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