Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pathology

Yesterday we received the official pathology report from my mastectomy. How very strange. I don't have the pages in front of me now to quote directly, but I can tell you that the first paragraph is a physical description of the thing itself - size, shape, skin color, biopsy scars. It even details the "erect" nipple, it's dimensions and color and "eccentric" location. I was interested to learn that my breast weighed 716 grams - a little more than a pound and a half. I would have guessed more.

And then the report goes into the location and size of the tumors. The most important details, as far as my doctors are concerned, are these: (1) The largest dimension of the largest tumor was 4 cm. (2) There was no cancer within 10 millimeters of the edge of the excised tissue. (3) Of the mass of lymph nodes taken from my armpit, there was cancer in just two of them.

Tumor size and number of involved lymph nodes are major factors in predicting my chances of survival. Later today I'll see the oncologist, whom I presume will explain my prognosis in detail. In the meantime, according to my amateur calculations, my chances of being alive and cancer free ten years from now fall at 70%. Seventy percent sounds okay when you picture a crowd of one hundred. I can see myself safely among the majority there. But if you think of 70% as so very close to 66%, and translate that number to a crowd of three where one of the three does not make it, well, I feel a whole heck of a lot more vulnerable.

In a way, I don't care at all about the numbers. I have to move forward and live, a pound and a half lighter. Simple as that.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

This sounds like pretty darn good news, do you think? They got very very clean margins--huge--and only two lymph nodes involved. Does this change the staging and/or treatment? It must be difficult for you but also, given what you've been going through, thrilling to be attacking this head on and quickly.

Suebee

gycif said...

This seems to be very good news, Amy!
Hope you can have a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving, along with a peaceful Wedding celebration.
Will be thinking of you all.
Love,
Gayle

Anonymous said...

Amy-

I have read through your latest blogs and I am glad you are tackling breast cancer like the true champion you are. You have always been a fighter and it seems like they caught the cancer pretty early on.

Stay strong and I will have to figure out how to email you as Mary Ficara had to explain the difference between blog, tweeting, etc...sounds like I am so old fashioned.

Happy Thanksgiving and wanted you to know that I was thinking of you.

Sari Kershnar Reikes

Suzanne said...

What a strong and inspiring attitude. Amy, you are a star. You will be alive because you are a fighter. I said it before and I'll say it again. You live life so fully and are so authentic to yourself and those you love. I'm so proud to "know" you these past five years.

I love the odds, by the way. It is wonderful news that it didn't get farther. Just wonderful. I'm thankful for knowing you and I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family.

Your strength amazes me. XO

Suzanne

Paula said...

You are right that numbers are only numbers, and it's easy to fixate on them and interpret them in a dozen different ways.

You are utterly beautiful and inspirational. Yes, there's life outside of cancer diagnoses and statistics, life to be lived!

Be thankful for that and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Tash said...

I'm so pleased that you've had such good news. The numbers are just that, numbers - don't let them bother you. For now you're here, blogging, loving and most important of all... living. Your strength is inspiring to anyone going through the same thing and I hope that you've had more good news from your oncologist.

I'm keeping all of my appendages crossed for you, hoping that you've had a good week and that you are feeling much better.

Mijk said...

I recently heard of a dutch clothinglabel that decided to make clothes for women like you who don't want to reconstruct or wear a prostetic I think it looks amazing and thought you might like to see it

http://www.lobstar.nl/nl/sellingpoints.html Long time lurker Mijk

Anonymous said...

Just want to say a big THANK YOU for your blog. I stumbled across it a few months ago while searching for blogs on IVF.

After reading your story, and hearing that a close friend had also been diagnosed with breast cancer, last week I finally check my own breasts. Properly. And I found a lump.

On Friday I head to a specialist breast clinic for scans and a consult. I don't know what to expect. Whatever happens, I'll be forever grateful that I came across your brilliant, honest and moving blog.

Em in Sydney, Australia

Lisa Adams said...

I was searching to find more about the details of your cancer so I would know your background, history. I find it fascinating how some reacted to your news with "great news!" and " good news, don't you think?" ... of course it's not as bad as it could be, and that's good, but i doubt that many people could consistently think that breast cancer, a mastectomy, cancer in 2 nodes and a 4 cm tumor are "good news"?

Maybe I'm projecting... I didn't like when people tried to tell me that things were "good news" ... it IS cancer, after all. If YOU think it's good news, that's what is impt. But saying "don't you think?" implies that that is what you SHOULD feel.

maybe I'm splitting hairs. Just wanted you to know I am reading, and thinking of you.