Monday, May 16, 2011

The Battle Begins

Like the strongest of armies my loyal, strong, loving soldiers assembled immediately. My Amazing husband rushed home from work as soon as he heard the news was "not good". My Dad and Becky extended so much love, warm embraces and nurturing as they took us to their home and fed us, loved us and helped share the devastating news with family and friends. And we all know my wonderful, die hard Momma would have been here the second she heard my broken hearted little voice, but I was in cahoots with my awesome Step Pa Scott who was helping me ensure she got home safely from work before I told her the news, that I knew was going to break her heart. She and Step Pa rushed down as soon as I told her...of course! and YES, I AM BLESSED!!!!!

Of course I was terrified about having cancer, but I was also amazed by this overwhelming feeling of love and comfort from others as I shared the news of my diagnosis with my friends and family. I know I said this to a few people I talked to that night "If someone has to go through this I'm probably one of the better people to do it because I have so much amazing family and friends who are going to support me through this...I've got an army to fight this battle with". And that was it. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to fight this hard. no question about it. Cancer picked the wrong bitch y'all!! (Sorry that is my favorite cancer saying so far).

So what do you do the day after you get diagnosed with cancer and you wake up and you think "ohh yeah I have cancer!". The temptation to go sky diving was there but I decided to hit the town with as many people as I could rally and have as much fun as possible...ok maybe that's called avoidance but it was really really FUN! My mom, step pa, BFF Erica and her amazing hubby Scott, Mike and Lindsay Brenner and I hit Capitola and Santa Cruz hard! Drinking, bowling, drinking, SC boardwalk, drinking, mini golf, video games, Wii party! It was an amazingly fun day and my family and friends helped me cry and laugh through a tough day. Thank you all so much for that day!

The next day it was time to face reality a bit. We met with Carol, who is a nurse navigator at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) where I am being treated. Carol was great! She gave us SO much information on breast cancer and introduced us to the many many intricacies of breast cancer including the different types, the testing process to determine what type I have, the different treatments for the different types, fertility issues...This is where my heart broke a little. I was armed and ready to fight breast cancer, but I had not even thought about breast cancer impacting my ability to have children. Peter and I were excited about getting pregnant sometime in 2011, but we realized this was going to delay things, but never did either of us think this might take our chance away, we were both a little heart broken. This is still the one part of the whole cancer battle that is hard to handle.

Carol helped us understand the slue of  doctors we were lined up to meet over the next few days and the roles each of them would play in my treatment. First, we met with Dr Dakkuri a surgeon at PAMF and a real sweetheart. Dr. Dakkuri was wonderful in helping me and my entourage (Peter, Dad, Mom and Step-pa) understand more about the type of Cancer we could be dealing with, the testing that would determine the type  and my options for treatment and surgery. Dr. Dakkuri had me return to Carol for the blood testing that would tell us whether or not I had one of the breast cancer genes (called BRACA 1 and BRACA 2) The following day we met with Dr. Glen Wong an oncologist at PAMF. He elaborated further on the types of breast cancer and the various treatments. We discussed all the possibilities and then we waited for the results...

The results came a piece at a time. First, I got the call that it was "triple negative" breast cancer. I cried. Then I laughed because I couldn't remember if that was good or bad, so I called my Dad who explained that it was good for my chances of having a baby naturally because I wouldn't need long term treatments, but also was considered by the doctors "more agressive" because it was not growing off hormones or proteins. Then I got the call that I had not one but BOTH GENES!

BRACA 1+ BRACA 2= Stanford Cancer Center

Having both genes, I found out later, was extremely rare. I had a 1 in 400-800 chance of having one gene and....drum roll please.....bddddddddd....1 in 640,000 chance of having both genes! Craziness. Having one of the genes qualified me for a clinical trial at Stanford Cancer Center and having both of the genes made me "the golden child" of the Stanford clinical trial :) Well at least that is how the study coordinator and I described the doctors and researchers excitement at the ability to see how someone with both genes, ME, responded to the treatment. Especially since women who had one of the genes were responding significantly well to the treatment.

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