January 18, 2018, will ever be seeded in my memory. That day the phone call from my primary care physician (who is also a personal friend), was interesting. I am used to him being goofy but that day his voice, his concern, his care was discerning and dead give away that something was wrong and the news was not good one. I told him to lay it out to me straight! He shared that the MRI results were in and that my cancer had returned but in my spine! I asked what does that mean? He said “not good”. What about the prognosis, I asked? “I am so so sorry. I am so so sorry” he responded! Although stunned, I wasn’t surprised (I wonder why, I will have to think of it some more), but at that moment, I started to feel his devastation and despair as though he had failed me in some way.
Almost immediately he worked with my oncologists to order a battery of tests including CT scan, bone scan, more lab draw, etc., and I went and saw my oncologist on 1/26. He shared that because its now considered chronic/palliative, the treatment will be somewhat different that before. Although bone biopsy was conducted, he was 100% positive that it was breast cancer of the spine! He did share that this (breast cancer) perhaps is the best cancer to have given the amount of progress that has been made in this area of research, and how people are able to live a long and meaningful life even with it. His treatment plan which he shared with me was interdisciplinary, which included consultations with neurosurgery (to assess spinal cord impact as the lumbar/thoracic location was an area of concern), radiation oncology, dentist, etc. along with ordering CT guided bone biopsy, more lab for hormone markers, continuation of steroids, etc. The preliminary treatment plan was to start me on Tamoxifen and once a month (this plan is pending and awaiting bone biopsy diagnosis confirmation). My oncologist is a thoughtful man and very thorough in his planning and execution, I know I am in good hands!
Next, my sweet boss came into play. She is a sweetheart and the best boss that I have ever had – she is effective with a great heart and soul! I am so very grateful to have her as a blessing in my life at this stage especially. Thank you Sandy! Being a manager in the healthcare field and a physical therapist by training, she knew to get me in touch with one of the finest neurosurgeon she knew. Not only did this neurosurgeon personally contact me but thanks to in network electronic medical records (EMR), he was able to dial down my fear of spinal cord impact and said it looked good and was going to message my oncologist to commence treatment immediately. My appointment with him for further evaluation in on 2/28.
Next met with radiation oncologist consult on 2/1/18, who was another sweetheart and who once again went over the tests. Based on her assessment, my history of breast cancer, and neurosurgeons consult for starting treatment immediately, she too was confident that treatment can be commenced immediately (without need of definitive bone biopsy diagnosis). I started my10-day radiation treatment this week! Day 5 today and am feeling stronger already.