The Her2 test....this is the result I am waiting on now. When I was in the office on Friday they were still waiting for the biopsy results on the Her2 and the ER/PR (estrogen or progesterone receptor).
The ER/PR tells if the cancer is estrogen-fed. If it comes back positive, then it means it is estrogen fed. Your body produces estrogen and then this cancer pulls the estrogen from your body to feed on. I'm actually surprised I'm still producing estrogen since I had an ovaian cancer scare about 6 years ago that resulted in a hysterectomy and pre-cancerous cells being found. And to think that the doctor then put me on an estrogen pill! I took it for about a year and just dropped it myself....I had heard too much about it being tied to breast cancer. Now I understand why! And did you know that ovarian and breast cancer are tied together? Me either until I started researching! The good thing about it being positive for being estrogen fed is that there are pills on the market that can treat it. One of the pills is called Tamoxifen.
- The drug tamoxifen, taken by some women for up to five years after initial treatment for breast cancer, helps prevent recurrence by blocking the estrogen receptors on breast cancer cells and preventing estrogen from binding to them.
This pill will block the estrogen in your body from the cancer cells, therefore they will not be fed (starve those suckers!). They won't have the estrogen to feed on and this helps hold down the reoccurence rate. It is harder to treat cancers that are not estrogen fed because these pills are not helpful since they don't feed on the estrogen anyway. So, it is a good thing for this test to turn out to be positive (you usually want your tests to be negative but in this case positive is a good thing). I got a phone call around 4:30 Friday that that result had come back as "positive". That is a good thing! :=) A huge weight was lifted from my shoulders! Now I know I'm a candidate for this pill. They actually talked with me about this pill last year and the possibility of taking it to help cut my chances of getting breast cancer and I got different opinions from two doctors, so I wasn't sure what to do. Of course now I'm second-guessing myself on whether it would have made a difference if I had gone ahead and begun the pill. Yes, you can take this pill even when you don't have cancer....if you're "high risk". I was still considering it and thought I had time...and they were watching me closely (I had so many mammograms last year, with the last one in August. They were all over my boob last year!). Who would have guessed I'd get cancer so quickly! I think it even surprised the doctor....she said, "we were watching you closely and you still got it". The only regret I may have is that I didn't start on that pill last year....then my body would have been blocking the estrogen that fed this cancer. But, hindsight is 20/20 and I was getting mixed opinions and thought I had time to research some more and still decide to take it. You can't go back and have a re-do......and it looks like the decision has been made for me now. I'm sure I'll be on this pill after all of my treatment is done....Dr. Zusan already mentioned it. We were just waiting to see if I was a candidate for it.
The HER2 is a protein that your body produces and if you are producing too much of this protein, then the breast cancer tends to be more aggressive and fast growing. This is the test result I am still waiting on! I'm sure I'll get this result tomorrow. I WANT this result to be negative. If it does come back positive, there is still another drug (Herceptin) that has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of recurrence. It is not without risks though, with the real risk of heart damage and possible lung damage. I am soooo not a "pill person" (I'll put up with a headache before I reach for a tylenol...yeah, I know that's nuts!) and hate the thought of another pill...BUT, on the other hand, I'm thankful that so much research has been done that there is a pill available now to help reduce the chances of reoccurence. I'm sure years ago women didn't even have these treatments available and that is why the survivor rate is so much higher these days. So, I'll put aside my hate for pills and do what needs to be done. But, the results aren't back yet....so I'm hoping for a negative report. With a negative report, this is one pill I can do without!
Triple-Negative Breast Cancer - While I now know I do not have this type of cancer (because of my positive on my ER/PR test), I wanted to include a description of it because this is the type my sister, Sheila, was diagnosed with last year. As you can see, it is a rarer kind and we're still scratching our heads on why she had to be so rare. She IS a "rare breed" though...LOL...in a good way!
Some breast cancers -- estimates range between 10% and 17% -- -are known as “triple negative” because they lack estrogen and progesterone receptors and do not overexpress the HER2 protein. The majority of breast cancers associated with the breast cancer gene known as BRCA1 are triple negative. I find this last little tidbit interesting and Sheila is working on getting the genetic testing done too.
The unfortunate part of the Triple Negative breast cancer is that it cannot be treated with the Tamoxifen or Herceptin drugs, making the possibility of reoccurence greater. This is why my sister chose to do the double masectomy and I believe I would have chosen the same if mine had turned out to be this. So, you can see why this test result weighed heavy on my mind and it was a weight off my shoulders when they called with my positive report. Although I don't know at this point what my decision will be, that is one deciding factor I can cross off my list. In my opinion, a masectomy would give you the best chance to fight reoccurence in this particular cancer. But, it's a hard choice to make and I applaud Sheila for having the faith and strength to make this decision. She is also a fighter and has done well with her treatments. My biggest prayer for her now is that there is no reoccurrence. One thing I'm realizing is that once you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you celebrate every day, every month, every year that you are cancer free!
And now you have "the rest of the story" (as Micky Rooney would say). I want my blog to be educational as well as informative of my own journey. I believe that "knowledge is power". Before my mom and sister were diagnosed, I knew very little about breast cancer. My father passed away from lung cancer and I wish I had researched it more when he was diagnosed. After my mom and sister were diagnosed I found google to be one of my best friends and I learned so much! I always just thought "cancer is cancer". Not so! There are so many other factors that decide the treatments and the prognosis and reoccurrence rate. It's actually been fascinating to learn about it and I feel I understand so much more what is going on with my own body. I understand the things that the doctor is telling me so I can make good decisions. I remember last year when they told me I had 4 calcifications...I thought, "Well, what the hell-o is that? (sorry, but it's what I thought!) " So I came home and reseached until I understood it better. So many times doctors throw these words out and you have no clue what they are talking about....I think they just forget that it's a different vocabulary than we have...LOL! So, I've learned to research, research,. research if I don't understand anything! I will say this....Dr. Zusan (my doctor) was excellent in explaining things to me in a very understandable way! I just love her and only met her last Monday. I could not ask for a more compassionate, thorough doctor! And besides that...she called me young! That just endeared her to me even more! LOL! How can you not love a doctor that calls you "young"!?! :=) Now, on the other hand, she IS young and very pretty!
Here is a good link for information on these cancer types..,
Here is a good link for information on these cancer types..,
Ok, tomorrow is the MRI and genetic testing (which is done by a simple blood test). I've had plenty of those in my life, so that's a piece of cake. On the other hand....the MRI...well, I'm sorta kinda claustophobic and I think I'll be lying in some machine for like 45 minutes. I'm not definite on this (I think I'll go research it now)....but they did tell me it would be 45 minutes. Now here's a funny visual for you. I will lie on my belly side and my boobs will fall through two holes that are cut out. LOL, Linda! She cracked up when she heard this at the doctor's office. I was already familiar with this "special table" because I've seen it on...where else...google! I'm wanting to hear a negative on the HER2, on the genetic testing, and on the MRI (for more spots). So, from here on out...negative, negative, negative. Who ever said "negative" is a bad thing? :=)
My sister Sheila is on the right. My sister Kim is on the left.
And that's me in the middle! I've always been a "middle child" out of 6 of us! So, these are only two of my siblings. I'll introduce you to the others later, but wanted to introduce you to these two "cheerleaders" today and ask for you to also remember Sheila in your thoughts and prayers. Like I said, she's in remission. She went through so much last year and is my inspiration for what lies ahead. My prayers for her is that there is no reoccurence and she can enjoy her kids and grandkids for many more years to come!
Ok, it's a beautiful day out, so I need to get off of here and go enjoy it! I'll let you know what I find out tomorrow! I know I might appear a little "windy", but have you ever met my sister, Sheila? LOL! She can talk circles around me (and anyone else) while I can write circles around her and others! LOL! Everyone loves Sheila! She's a special lady! :=)