Diagnosis & Treatment

Because this is a blog about me having cancer, I figured it might be helpful to have a page about my diagnosis and treatment. This is the more boring side of my life; or, for those of you who are scientifically or medically minded, the more technical side. I’ve included the more medical denotations and translations.

I am not BRCA+ (either 1 or 2), but I do have a mutation of uncertain significance on my p53 line (one they normally see in lizards!).

Original diagnosis in October 2010, at age 25: Stage IIIb, DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) and IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma) (yes, that’s right, I had two kinds of cancer). Grade 3 (fast growing), 9cm tumor. 1/17 lymph nodes (which means they extracted 17 lymph nodes and found cancer in 1). ER+, weak PR+, and HER-2+ (this last one means very aggressive and fast growing, also prone to reoccurrence).

Treatment: Did 9 weeks of taxol and lapatnib on clinical trial; single mastectomy; 12 weeks of A/C (adriamycin and cytoxan); a year of herceptin; radiation to my left chest wall; tamoxifen.

Second diagnosis in March 2013, at age 28: Stage IV, IDC. Grade 3. Mets to my bones (on my L1), liver (about a dozen spots, 4cm at the most), lungs (one tumor on my right lung, small with groundglass around it), and the lymph nodes around my liver. Same pathology (ER+, weak PR+, HER-2+) as before.

Treatment: Did three month cycle of taxol, herceptin, and pertuzumab from early April to early July. Three month scans revealed tumors in lungs, lymph nodes, and bones (of which there are more than initially found) gone; tumors in liver still present but shrunken. DId three more months of taxol, herceptin, and pertuzumab; subsequent scans were totally clean.

Third “diagnosis” in November 2013, age 28: Brain scans revealed about a dozen small brain tumors, the largest at 1cm. None in particularly important places. I give this it’s own diagnosis section because brain tumors are treated separately from systemic disease. Think of them as two different diseases, as different treatments work for each.

Treatment: Did 10 rounds of whole brain radiation in late November 2013. Tumors initially shrunk.

Continuing Treatment: As my cancer is still present in my brain, I continue to move forward with new treatment options.

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