I drove home, obeying all traffic laws, and called them back. Dr. M only had a few minutes to talk to me, but it was enough time to tell me that the Oncotype Dx results were "good". My score is well within the low-risk category. This means that chemo would not benefit me. As he said, "Chemo would not be good for you." That is the take-home message, my friends.
So now, I've scheduled my appointment to go in and get set up to begin radiotherapy. After that starts, I'll see Dr. M to begin taking Tamoxifen. This is known as "hormone therapy", and is given in the majority of breast cancers. Most breast cancers have hormone receptors, which means, in a sense, that they feed off those hormones. My cancer was mostly estrogen receptive. Here's the kindergarten explanation (which is about where I'm at in all this!) of what Tamoxifen does: it keeps estrogen from getting to the cancer cells, starving them of what they need to grow. Most breast cancer patients take it for 5 years. It has some side effects, but is shown to be remarkably effective.
This is all good news. In fact, it's great news! Yesterday after I got off the phone, Jason and my parents were asking me how I felt. "Aren't you relieved?" I am! I really am. But to tell you the truth, I didn't really feel much of anything. Yes, I worried a little about the number, wondering if it was low enough. I think, with something like this, you second guess it no matter the result.
Really, my emotions in general have been subdued over this whole thing. I think it just makes it easier to cope. I wasn't elated with yesterday's news, but I wasn't sobbing when I was told I had breast cancer, either. To hang my heart on every doctor's phone call and lab result is frankly too exhausting for me. I think I have tried to adopt an even-keel kind of outlook, because I know that I have to deal with whatever the news is going to be--good or bad. So, even though I've had a positive outlook and tried to believe the best, I've never taken chemo off the table. Until yesterday. I was honestly ready to do whatever I needed to do. And to do that, I've needed to not be too emotional about any of it. Roller coasters are fun for a very short time, but after that they just make everyone queasy.
I'm now feeling the same way about this genetic testing. If the results come back that I have the gene mutation for breast cancer, a lot of things get put back on the table. (I'll explain more on that later!) So in my mind, it's almost like these issues: possible surgery in the future, radiotherapy, fertility, cancer returning, etc., are all file folders open on my desk. I won't close any of them yet because it would be too difficult and upsetting to get them back out again once they've been filed away. Or at least, that's how it works for me.
But I can file away the one labeled "chemotherapy". And that's a good thing! I know I'm kind of rambling here--it sounds so abstract, even to me! I mean, obviously talking to y'all is therapeutic for me in some way. And all your comments and thoughts have been so helpful and encouraging to me, too. I guess if I were reading, I think I'd be interested to know what this is like from the "inside". So many of us have friends or family that deal with breast cancer at some point. Or I think that if someone who's in the same situation stumbles across this blog, maybe they'll relate. In a way, I want people to know that dealing with this is not tears and misery 24/7. Yes there is stress and frustration and fear, but it is do-able. It is. If this card comes up for you...you can get through it.
I know I'm one of the lucky ones to be able to say that: with an early stage, treatable cancer, and that I might feel very differently if my diagnosis was different. But I guess this is just my perspective, which is why it's a blog!
Anyway, that's the latest from meeeee. I have been venting emotion in other ways, though. I find I speak my mind more freely with people lately, and Jason tells me I have been much more sassy than usual. Actually, I think he said surly, but sassy sounds much more charming, doesn't it? I even got into an political debate on Facebook today! Me! Of all people! The most non-confrontational person on the planet! I never go there. (It's my number 1 FB rule. That way lies madness.) Obviously there is some pent up stress needing an outlet.
Anyone else been blowing off steam lately?