Today I met with my doctor and received the results of the bone scan that was taken yesterday. There was good and bad news and the doctor didn’t mince words.
The bad news, he said, is that the bone scan found cancer in my spine in the T3 disk. But there was a lot of good news in my eyes. While there were two disks that were called into question as having cancer, only one of the disks showed up on the bone scan. The disk was said to contain “a small focal area of uptake” with the doctor emphasizing “small”. It is a small metastasis of the breast cancer, according to my doctor, and the plan is to watch what happens to it as the next level of treatment is given to me. There is more good news. Because of the spot found by the CT scan and the bone scan, the doctors supervising my cancer care have agreed to proceed with the mastectomy but have cancelled the axillary dissection (the removal of my lymph nodes). I really prayed that God would spare me of this pain and the likely permanent swelling of my arm if the procedure was not necessary, and God provided a way to have the procedure cancelled. God is still in control and He answers prayer!
The plan is for me to have the surgery as planned on February 11th and about a month after the surgery I would start taking a pill that would block my estrogen. The pill will help because the cancer is estrogen positive and is using estrogen to grow. My doctor will also watch the spot and use it to determine if the pill is being effective stopping the growth of the cancer. If the cancer gets smaller or doesn’t change at all, it is a positive sign that the treatment is working. My doctor told me that many patients who have metastatic breast cancer live longer than ten years so he expects I have years ahead of me to live.
The next surprise was a call this afternoon from my surgeon. He verified that he will not be removing my lymph nodes and he also questioned the finding of the bone scan. He said that often degenerative disk disease can be mistaken for cancer. Since the bone scan verified that I have degenerative disk disease, he thinks that the spots that were found on the CT scan and the one spot found on the bone scan are related to the disease and are not the spread of cancer. He told me that I should request to have a PET scan which is much better suited to finding cancer. It is only administered in Vancouver about 8 hours away, but he thinks that this test should be given to me before any treatment happens on my spine. I was very encouraged that the surgeon was questioning the diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. I am going to ask my doctor to book the test for me sometime after I heal from my surgery. I am so thankful for the prayers on my behalf. It has been a bit of a roller coaster ride again, but the ride has been more positive this time, praise the Lord!