First, I realize that my last post was a book! I apologize for being so long-winded, but as a few others have noted, typing all that stuff out helps me organize my thinking, so it is therapeutic.
I have a few pieces of good news. First, I saw Dr. Faddis on Tuesday, who removed the drains and who said that my skin is healing nicely. However, some of the skin on the left nipple was "sloughing" off. So, he asked that I go in and see Dr. Havard. So, I saw Dr. Havard yesterday afternoon and while the upper layer of skin had died and was sloughing off, there was some new pink healthy skin underneath. So, we'll just wait and see. "Pumping up" starts December 10. We'll see how that goes. The best part is that Dr. Havard took off the ace bandage (which had been binding up my chest for 11 days!) and said I could start showering! One never realizes how good a shower feels until you're deprived of it for awhile! I luxuriated in it for awhile this morning! Whew!
I also found an article that relates to Her-2 positive breast cancers. I'm not sure I understand all the stats, but this is what I think the article said. First, there is a pretty strong correlation between Her-2 positive cancers and having 3+ positive lymph nodes. Generally, I think that means that Her-2 positive cancers are aggressive and tend to spread to the lymph system. But with this group of tissue samples, the people who saved the samples didn't have long-term data on the rate by which these women had relapses or died. So, they studied a second group of breast tissue samples. All of these samples, first of all, were lymph node positive. And, they found a strong correlation between cancers that were positive for Her-2 overexpression (like mine) and relapse and death. In other words, it seems statistically significant that Her-2 positive breast cancers in node positive women tended to relapse sooner and their deaths were earlier. This, from what I have read in another book related to Her-2, is the first study to look into Her-2 positive cancers and it is this study that all the other websites and recommendatons are based on - namely, Her-2 positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive, relate to relapse and metastases and earlier death.
But, my lymph system is blocked, as I noted in the last blog. Soooo, does this mean I can breath easier? Not yet - I still need to find data on Her-2 positive, lymph node negative breast cancer, if such data exist. Or, better yet, Her-2 positive, no lymph drainage women.
The other good news is that I got to thinking about the prior radiation I had to the right breast. I have been told by Dr. Havard that radiated tissue loses some of its elasticity and then I got to thinking about how that might affect my blood supply. I noted that post-surgery, I had a lot less fluid drainage on the right side (lymph and blood) than the left. So, I found a website that said something that "radiotherapy lowers the blood flow to the area" and also that "radiotherapy can sometimes break blood vessels in the area". Now, whether this is a long-term affect (i.e., it would still affect that tissue after five years) or short-term (in which the tissue recovers) was not answered, but given that the drainage on the right side was about half that on the left, I conclude that the blood supply to the right side was also compromised due to the radiation. Again, that might cut down on any paths the cancer may have had out of my breast, which is a good thing.
Okay, my outlook is improving . . . thanks for listening!
Thursday, November 29, 2007