When I had first talked to the CTCA in Tulsa on the phone, they were very nice. Answered all my questions, told me how they would take care of me. I talked to them on Sunday, 2/26/17, and they took my insurance paperwork and all of my information.
They called me back on Monday to tell me how the insurance would pay. I signed a release to get the doctor's information so that they could discuss my next steps.
Once they got my doctor's information, they scheduled an appointment for me for Sunday, March 5th and possibly until Tuesday.
My first appointment was at the lab draw so they could get my blood work results. The person I met in the waiting room of the lab draw was really what cinched the whole thing for me, that I knew this was the right place for me. The couple was from Texas and the wife had pancreatic cancer. They had such good results with the CTCA and had come from a cancer center in Texas, but they were much happier with Tulsa. They answered all my questions and all my fears were for not. It's one thing to hear about a place like this from someone that is already there and very happy.
The next morning, I met with several doctors. I have a HER2 positive protein that makes the cancer cells spread very fast. Here's the definition of that:
HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. In about 1 of every 5 breast cancers, the cancer cells have a gene mutation that makes an excess of the HER2 protein.
Chemotherapy is the use of any drug to treat any disease. But to most people, the word chemotherapy means drugs used for cancer treatment. It's often shortened to “chemo.” Surgery and radiation therapy remove, kill, or damage cancer cells in a certain area, but chemo can work throughout the whole body.
The chemo for me consists of two medicines:
Then I also receive a drug called Herceptin, which kills the HER2 protein. I will do that drug for an additional 12 sessions, but only that one, not the other two chemo drugs.
So this means, I will be doing 6 sessions = 18 weeks, plus an additional 12 sessions = 36 weeks, basically well over a year with of trips back and forth to Tulsa.
After I get through the first 6 sessions of chemo, then we will do surgery. The surgery will probably consist of a mastectomy of either just the left breast or both. I'll have time to decide about that and what reconstruction options I have.
During my first initial visit, they ran an MRI that told us I had 3 more spots farther inside the left breast, these 3 were in additional to the 2 that they found at the Lebanon hospital during the routing mammogram. They did not think the lymph nodes had any issues, however, they will still have to check them during surgery. No lumps showed up on the right breast, which was very good news.
I asked them at my second trip if it was spread throughout my body. They said that I was designated a Cancer Stage 1 and they didn't not think it had spread further. So that was also really good news.
I'm in great health otherwise, all of my blood work came back well within the normal levels, the EKG and ultrasound they did on my heart were really good too. They monitor these blood levels every time I go in and the measure my heart every 90 days or so.
I think that covers most everything on my treatment plan. Everyone's plan is different and uniquely tailored to the person. I am certainly learning a lot.
Thanks to everyone that prays for me, that gives me hugs and warm thoughts and love. It's been truly amazing. I'll write on that more later.