I met with a breast surgeon at City of Hope on October 16. It was the day after I had the PET scan. I had to drive there myself from work and my husband met me there. I remember City of Hope being a totally different animal - they assign you a number, you meet with a representative who orients you, they give you a patient card...a lot happened.
When I went into the examination room, I don't know why, but everything started to wear on me. I had handed over all my slides and information, I was waiting, I wanted my husband to be here now. The nurse spoke to me a little severely and I lost it (a little). It was embarrassing, I started to cry. Finally, she left.
It seemed like an eternity before my husband showed up.
When the door opened again, it was a man - not the doctor I was expecting. He was a surgeon fellow - and he looked like Zach Galifianakis. He was wearing a bowtie. He examined me and then once again, we waited.
Finally, the surgeon walked in. Immediately, I loved her. She was small and slightly frantic. For some reason I enjoyed this. She talked extremely quickly. Love! We started to talk about options. At City of Hope, their plan wanted chemotherapy first. The idea is to kill all the cancer cells floating about in the body before you have surgery. This sounds good...this sounds like a really great plan. Out of nowhere, there's a knock on the door, a hand pokes through with a stack of papers and the doctor takes them. Once again, I'm blown away by the amazing treatment we are getting. The report from my PET scan has been rushed and we have the results. Totally amazing.
I stare at the doctor and she stares down the page. Everything seems okay, until she gets to the end. At this point, my impatience gets the best of me and I ask if everything is okay.
No. There is one thing that concerns her. A spot on my spine.
Fast forward to today, these are the things that have happened:
1) I have a bone biopsy: totally cool. Completely knocked out for this - almost no residual pain. The nurses had a little bit of trouble with my i.v. Seriously...that part was torturous. But it's cool - one nurse called my veins squirrelly, which totally made my day.
2) I get the results of the bone biopsy: totally not cool. The breast cancer has spread to my spine.
3) I have a new job: I'm working closer to the doctors and the hospitals to make treatment more convenient.
4) I've been staged: I have Stage IV cancer. Here's the thing...from III to IV, there is a huge paradigm shift in terms of treatment that I was not aware of. We aren't treating to cure anymore. That is difficult to absorb.