We didn't do an ultrasound measurement today. However, I'll be having a breast MRI on August 13 and a pre-surgery mammogram on August 17. Additionally, on the 17th, I'll be having my all-day pre-surgery assessment clinic. This will basically cover everything I need to know prior to surgery. Since this hospital is chronically late for everything (!!!), they've recommended that I bring books and whatever to keep me occupied. I always have books and knitting with me, so that day will be no different.
The insurance company rejected our first appeal to pay for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutation test. This approximately $4,000 test would let us know if I have a gene mutation that would mean an increased risk in developing another primary breast cancer or developing ovarian cancer. We are making another appeal this week (through the doctor and genetics folks at UCSF) and hope to hear of an approval next week. The results could also be helpful for my sisters (not so much my daughter) for them to use for any testing they may want to consider.
The primary reason we would like the testing is for surgical decisions. If I test positive (an approximate 9% chance), then I would most definitely have my ovaries removed during my upcoming surgery. I may or may not opt for the bilateral (double) mastectomy. I feel that close monitoring could be an equal option for that. However, the ovary issue is more troubling as it's harder to monitor an early cancer in the ovaries.
Would you pray that the insurance company pays for this?
It's a simple blood test (my blood has already been drawn). The main reason they are not paying for it is because my mother's diagnosis was at age 51 and not under age 50. She discovered her lump at age 50, but waited six months prior to going it. It is highly likely that she had the lump prior to age 50.
Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, September 4.
Right now, it's on the books for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. (They will use a test to determine which nodes correlate with the tumor the surgeon will remove those particular nodes. They will be tested for cancer while I am still on the table. Should they come up positive, the surgeon will remove all the nodes under my arm (axillary node dissection). We'd like to avoid this as this can result in lymphodema later on. If they come up negative, the surgeone will simply close me up and send me home.
Yes, I've come from a Stage IIIb breast cancer diagnosis (considered to be late stage) to a lumpectomy, outpatient (most likely) surgery. How awesome is that?
Radiation will be needed post surgery and would be for about six weeks. I did find out that I can choose wherever I want to have my radiation treatments, so I will go to one much closer to my home. I have no desire to drive to San Francisco every day for six weeks. I've been including my primary care physician on all my reports so she can refer me to a more local site.
We continue to give thanks to God for every good thing and even for the not-so-good things (as they end up working for good . . . if that makes sense!). This journey is not over yet, but as I've said before, I'm expecting complete healing. Complete wholeness.
I've learned a lot so far . . . need to write more about some of that . . . but one consistent thing I've learned is the gratefulness for friends all around the world. You are absolutely AMAZING! I would love to meet everyone who has been praying for me and my family . . . the numbers are in the thousands and they are on every continent. I look forward to that joyful reunion in heaven (years from now!) when I can meet you all.
There are those who have provided so much practical support. Friends in China and friends in the US. Financial support, food support, kid support, etc. Today, one friend took my kids to the beach where Michael proved himself to be part fish. He fell in love with boogie boarding. Do I have a future surfer on my hands?
(By the way, the kids are both enrolled in their respective schools. The employees at the Sunnyvale School District Office were so nice and supportive and helped me every step of the way. They were pleasantly surprised that I had every documentation I needed for their registrations (I heard them tell many people that they had to come back with necessary papers) and that definitely sped up the process. I will be heading to the individual schools to check on what the kids need from their teachers, etc. I also need to get Rachel's elective course (art) into her folder.)
Review of dates:
August 8 -- hope to have positive response from insurance company regarding the BRCA gene mutation tests
August 13 -- Breast MRI
August 17 -- All day pre-surgery assessment clinic and post chemo mammogram
August 21 -- Rachel's first day of school
August 22 -- Michael's first day of school
August 27 -- Pre-op appointments
September 4 -- Surgery
First week of October -- Radiation
We'll keep you informed. Thanks again for sharing our journey.