Answers and More Questions

“A two steps forward
A two steps back…” – Paula Abdul, “Opposites Attract”

Okay, maybe not steps back…. but sideways, maybe?

A few things to update.

  1. I went to my PCP yesterday and had a bunch of lab work done. Good news is that most everything looked great – my counts, my cholesterol, etc. Liver levels are a little wonky – my rheumatologist brought that up too, so likely autoimmune related. Vitamin B and D levels a little low, so upping my supplements temporarily. Frustratingly, my thyroid function levels are all also within normal range. So, I have antibodies present that indicate something’s screwed up, but it’s still …. normal. And the endocrinologist I was referred to scheduled me for December. I’ll be looking for an earlier appointment, thanks.
  2. I had a follow up with my surgeon today. She took two skin punch biopsy samples to test for inflammatory breast cancer. Because it’s tough to tell what’s autoimmune and what’s not, this biopsy should give us a definitive answer. From there and with the CT scan results (now happening Friday), we should be able to make better decisions on surgery.
  3. I also got my full prognosis report back from the stereotactic biopsy. Estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor negative, HER2 negative. So no clear indicator that chemotherapy will be necessary, but the sample was sent for further testing to get the oncotypes tested. If those numbers come back as high, then I’ll likely have to have chemo. If they come back OK, then I might not have to have chemo. The estrogen receptor being positive, though, means at least five years of an estrogen blocking medication. Wa. Hoo.
  4. I may still need further genetics information to make surgical decisions. If today’s biopsies come back as normal and/or not inflammatory breast cancer, then I’d like to know my risk factors from genetics before deciding on lumpectomy vs. mastectomy.

The CT scan was originally supposed to happen today, but I had to reschedule because my insurance hadn’t yet approved the test, and paying $4K out of pocket as a self-pay just wasn’t an option. (…. insert crappy American health care system rant here …). So now it’s scheduled for Friday. Fingers crossed that it can happen then, as it’s kind of holding things up now.

One thing my surgeon said is that the similar case I mentioned a few days ago (that triggered a consult with another rheumatologist, coming up) actually cleared up once they started cancer treatment. As if all of the autoimmune stuff was triggered by the cancer, and once that went away, so did everything else. Fingers crossed, I guess?

I’m trying to take one day at a time, and trying to both think about questions I have and what I need to be taking care of ahead of time. Both are daunting prospects. But there’s only so much I can control, and I’ve got a grasp on that. My frustration right now is with my body, and its flawless ability to screw itself up so spectacularly. Like, one thing at a time, please? But no, it’s all the things. My PCP was just like… “I don’t even know what to say. It’s so much.” Yep. Thanks for the reminder, I guess?

I met with the therapist too. I don’t know how that’s going to go. I still hate therapy but I recognize its importance and I can see how it might be valuable.

Up next… CT scan Friday. Radiology oncologist appointment Monday. Medical oncologist appointment Thursday. Acupuncture appointment Friday morning. Somewhere in the midst of that, I will hopefully get the first genetics panel results and results from the skin punch biopsies. And hopefully get a different endocrinologist appointment. Is that all I’m waiting for? Sheesh.

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