Things are happening! And also not happening.
I got a phone call from Dr. Ching (breast surgeon) to confirm that we’re switching the order so that I’m doing chemo first then surgery. She had two things she wanted to talk to me about that change. First, sometimes the tumor shrinks so much from chemo that it cannot be found easily. In order to ensure she can find the tumor site after chemo, she told me that I needed to have a clip, or marker, put in place where the tumor is. Other women who have had negative biopsies have had this done so that during the annual mammogram, the radiologist can make sure to look at that area. I had the clip put in this morning. It’s not bleeding as much as when I had the biopsy, and the pain is definitely less, but it’s still a wee awkward to be icing my breast for 10 minutes every hour at work.
The 2nd purpose was to let me know that there are some increased risks in other areas by doing chemo first. “Baseline” refers to doing surgery first, then chemo.
1. Baseline, 3% of surgeries are unable to “find” the sentinel lymph nodes b/c the radioactive dye does not travel through the milk ducts to the lymph nodes. Doing chemo first increases the chance to 4%. If I’m in the 4%, Dr. Ching will remove ALL the lymph nodes on my right side.
2. Baseline, the % of false positives of taking just the affected lymph nodes is down to 6% (from previous 10%, using the sentinel lymph node technique). Doing chemo first increases the chance to 12%, so the recommendation is that she will remove all 3 lymph nodes (the first grouping of lymph nodes) during surgery, not just the sentinel lymph node. (False positive in this case means thinking that surgery removed all the cancerous material when in fact it did not.)
Oh well. I guess there are plusses and minuses to everything.