Pro-tip, oncology nurse. Maybe your *first* question shouldn't be, "Do you have a Living Will?" It throws a girl off her game a bit.
I finally have a treatment plan. Or sort of, anyway. I met with an oncologist and surgeon today (which, btw, took from 10:30 - 4:00, and I don't know how people without flexible jobs manage this kind of thing). I was hoping for a concrete staging, but it turns out that the MRI found a few other suspicious 'things.' We're going to do another biopsy Thursday morning (more needles, joy) to check out one of them -- depending on the results, I'm either going to be considered stage 1 or 2. Both still have very positive prognoses, and it probably doesn't really matter which right now, as the treatment plan is basically the same. But it would be nice to know -- uncertainty drives me a bit nuts.
Other results have come in -- my tumor is estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 positive, which are apparently good things -- it means that it should respond well to some targeted drug therapies, and ups my chances of survival. I still need to do the BRAC gene testing (as soon as my insurance approves it) -- if that comes back positive (unlikely, I think?), then I'd have a much higher risk of recurrence. We'll see.
Regardless, the next step is a five-month course of chemo. Yay. On the minus side, my hair will fall out (completely? not sure.) and there will undoubtedly be some serious fatigue. On the plus side, the anti-nausea meds are apparently much better than they used to be; I should be able to eat, mostly, and not be vomiting all the time. Which I'm really relieved about; I *hate* nausea with a passion. Honestly, the side effects sound a lot like the rougher parts of pregnancy, and I got through that, so I imagine I can manage this too. I am tentatively planning *not* to cancel my scheduled conference travel in March, assuming it works with the chemo dates. More on that soon.
After that, surgery, then possibly radiation. What kind of surgery is unclear right now -- we'll see what the biopsy says, and then how the cancer reacts to the chemo. At least a lumpectomy, possibly more. I had a somewhat politically fraught conversation with the surgeon about reconstruction, but I'm going to save going into that for another log (and probably another day). Second opinion scheduled for this Friday.
I am wrung out -- even though everything was mostly as expected, it was still hard to hear. (And I was very glad Kevin was able to come with me for the oncologist appt. -- thanks to all of you who recommended taking a friend; I wouldn't have thought to ask him otherwise.) After I came home, I tried to scan some materials for tomorrow's class, and my new computer didn't have the right scanner driver, and when I tried to download one, I got the Windows version by mistake, and I couldn't get it to work until Kevin came up and told me what I was doing wrong and by then I was crying over the stupid scanner driver, only not really, of course.
It's okay now. I've given up on cooking dinner today and ordered takeout Indian food, a rare treat. Samosa chaat, mango lassi, lamb vindaloo, tandoori chicken, saag paneer, aloo gobi, and garlic naan -- it's enough food to feed us for the rest of the week, which sounds about perfect right now.