At the end of last week, I received the best news from my medical oncologist: the tissue examination from my double-mastectomy breast cancer surgery on January 7th showed that all of the cancer cells had responded to the chemotherapy! There were no cancer cells left in either of my breasts and none found in any of the lymph nodes!!!
A result like this is called a pathologic complete response. It’s the A++ pathology report for chemo-before-surgery (neoadjuvant chemotherapy) high-grade triple negative breast cancer gals (like me) – and it’s almost more than I could have hoped for. My oncologist even said that he had to read the report three times to be sure it was true because, even with the aggressive chemo that I received, my odds of getting this result were less than 10% given that I had breast cancerous tumors in each breast. I can only attribute my great fortune to the multitude of prayers and all of the positive energy and white light that was sent my way by everyone.
Honestly, this is nothing short of a miracle and I am again counting more blessings:
- I am blessed by a great pathology report that means I do not need any additional treatment for breast cancer. I get a break (and might even be done)!
- I am blessed to have a less than 10% chance that this aggressive type of cancer will return to kill me in the next 5 years, meaning over 90% chance (perhaps even higher since we caught these cancers early) that this nightmare is gone for good.
- I am blessed to have all of you sending me the miracle-creating prayers, light, and positive thoughts to support my care.
- I am blessed that during chemo I had many friends and volunteers who walked with me daily and practiced yoga with me weekly, both of which upped my chances of this excellent outcome.
- I am blessed by the words of encouragement that so many people have sent and that helped me weather the emotional ups and downs of breast cancer surgery treatment and kept me positive, which also upped my chances of getting this amazing result.
- I am blessed to live in a community that has an abundance of knowledge and resources for a healthy, supportive diet for cancer patients. I availed myself of that bounty and I believe it made a huge difference in how the intensive chemo treatments worked to kill the very aggressive cancer cells without making my body so sick that the chemo needed to be lowered.
- I am blessed to have access to excellent and progressive medical care that guided me through the many difficult medical decisions that I never expected I personally would have to face.
- I am blessed to have my loving family, who are at my bedside, doing the most mundane tasks for me now that both of my arms are out of commission.
The sum total of all of our efforts yielded a probability-busting result – and it means that I can see a life for myself after breast cancer surgery treatment.
I want you all to know how grateful and awed I am by your support during these first three harrowing phases of my breast cancer and BRCA gene mutation (for breast and ovarian cancer) journey (diagnosis-shock, chemo-endurance, surgery-surrender).
The journey continues for a while longer and next up is the removal of my fallopian tubes and ovaries. But first, I’m going to take a few months to fully recover from the 6.5 hour double-mastectomy/phase-one reconstruction surgery. I’m also going to bask in the glow of this fantastic pathology report before I ask myself to face yet another pathology report (this time on my tubes and ovaries – any bad news would bring back the threat of six months of chemo plus another horrible and even bigger surgery). I also have the continuing five-month process of reconstruction, including another surgery with general anesthesia, and the gradual recovery from last fall’s four months of dose-dense chemo. Nevertheless, I can see the light at the end of this tunnel and a future that includes a full head of hair again. Hopefully the most intense and worst part of this breast cancer surgery journey is over. And… today I have my surgeon’s “OK” for my first post-op shower, another blessing!
It’s such a pleasure for me to send you this great news and to thank you for your support in getting me to this place. The future looks brighter and I look forward to sharing my love of dermatology and skin care with you in 2014.
Blessings and Gratitude, Cynthia Bailey MD
If you have enjoyed my breast cancer surgery good news too, please show your support for other people with breast cancer by commenting in the Facebook comment window, “liking”, sharing, share in Google+, tweeting, and “pinning,” this blog post with friends and family. Everybody wins.