To say the past 6 months has been a rollercoaster (emotionally and physically) would be a gross understatement. I’ve felt anxious, scared shitless, grateful, frustrated, hopeful and confused. I’ve completed a clinical trial, cut my hair off and underwent a double mastectomy. I’ve felt each and every emotion very acutely and I’ve been in physical pain and discomfort. I’ve cried many tears of sadness but the best feeling was crying tears of joy today when my medical oncologist confirmed that my lymph nodes show no signs of cancer at all. I finally got the news I’ve been waiting for and it’s an emotion that’s really hard to describe – intense relief, gratitude and joy – a weight has finally been lifted. It sounds dramatic to say (whatever, now’s my time to shine as a drama queen) but my sense of hope has been renewed and I see the light at the end of the tunnel for the first time. Not only were the lymph nodes clean, there was no sign of invasive cancer in the tissue AT ALL. What was left was a “battlefield” – an actual footprint of where the invasive cancer was. It’s the best result possible – what they call a complete pathological response. And the left breast tissue was completely benign. What they did find is Ductal Carcinoma In Situ – abnormal cells that are not invasive (aka they hadn’t left the duct) but that was to be expected since my treatment did not target those cells. This is all incredible news not just for me, but for HER2 positive patients in the future who will get the same amazing results and avoid traditional toxic chemotherapy thanks to the research and trials at Dana Farber. My doctor’s faces were beaming, they hugged me and told me they’re proud of me but really, I’m proud of them. Their work and dedication is life saving and I’m so thankful for them.
I have said it – and believed it – in the past but now the reality that I’m actually beating cancer feels so certain and so close that I’m now flooded with emotional and physical strength to finish this fight with a chemo TKO. Chemo begins weekly for 12 weeks on January 24. The treatment is a combination of Herceptin and Pertuzumab (similar mix of drugs from the trial) as well as Taxol (a more traditional chemotherapy drug and the reason why I’ll have yet another thing in common with George Costanza soon – shrinkage and now hair loss) to ensure no cells that escaped or could possibly be left behind will survive. After the 12 weeks of chemo I’ll continue to get the Herceptin every 3 weeks for 9 months, which will greatly decrease the risk of recurrence. So while there’s still a year of treatment waiting for me and I’ll be bald soon (no you cannot rub or palm my head – ok maybe but only if you give me a present first) I have never felt stronger or better. I am overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude – and a little champagne right now – that nothing can get me down. I finally feel like a cancer beating warrior. BYE CANCER! Go fuck yaself!