i had the appointment yesterday with the radiology oncologist. I've seen a lot of doctors, especially recently, and this woman was IMPRESSIVE. The second she walked in, without even my chart or file on her, she knew EVERYTHING about
my case. When I would ask questions, she would reference the answer based on facts that were specific to ME alone; like the fact that I was a grade 2, or that my ki-67 was 48%, and that though my margins were "clear", it was only by 1 millimeter, and although i only had one lymph node with cancer, that it had "nearly escaped the node capsule". Unfortunately I am in the "grey zone".... if 4 or more nodes had cancer, or if it had spread to the chest wall or anywhere else, then yes, definitely need radiation... if zero nodes, and no other spread, definitely no radiation. One to three nodes is the grey zone. The gist of the visit is, of course, that she recommends I have radiation, 30-33 treatments.
She went over the side effects, the sunburn, which could range anywhere from redness to blistering and peeling, and fatigue. There's a small chance that the radiation can damage my thyroid gland, due to the proximity of the thyroid to where the radiation beams will be aimed, which would lead to hypothyroidism. There's 5% chance that the radiation will cause a totally new cancer. And there is a 20% chance of getting lymphedema. I knew I was already at risk for that since I had all my left axillary nodes removed. I didn't think to ask if the radiation makes my risk 20% higher than it already was from the surgery.... I'll have to look into that. I need to find out more about
lymphedema as well.
For some reason I had it stuck in my head that after chemo, I will be about
95% sure that the cancer won't come back. I don't know where I pulled that number, but it was what I'd been considering as gospel. According to this doctor, with chemo alone, I am 80-85% clear. Add in radiation, and it goes up to 95% clear. I spent a couple hours searching online for statistics, and they are all over the place. One site will say 65%, another will say, 75, or 83,...... lots of numbers and none of them approached 95% cure rate from chemo alone. Also, none of the sites were organized in a way where a person could view stats based on the facts of their particular cancer.
I don't need to decide right away if I'll add radiation after chemo. I have time to do research.
Money is a factor, unfortunately as it is for almost everyone! I just recently reached my maximum out-of-pocket for health care costs for this year, so I am no longer having to pay my $75 co-pay! Yeah! But that will end Dec. 31, 2016, and I'll have that multi-thousand dollar amount I'll have to be out-of-pocket again. The chemo alone is scheduled to continue through April, 2017. If I add radiation, that would take me through June. Oh, and having radiation means that my final breast reconstruction would be delayed --she said I'd have to wait 6 months after the end of radiation before doing reconstruction. So now I'm into early 2018 to have the reconstruction, and once again having the thousands of dollars out-of-pocket! My head is spinning. Time to do something relaxing. I can't think about
my cancer anymore today.
Best of health and positive thoughts to all who are reading this.
Post Edited (exqualls) : 10/29/2016 10:22:03 AM (GMT-6)