…which means there’s either good news or bad news to share, and I’m afraid it’s the latter 😦 No way to really buffer the update, so I’ll just come out with it – liver mets (that’s cancer lingo for metastasis). Damn. Damn, damn, damn. 5cm mass making a home for itself in a pretty important organ, though it could be worse and I’m grateful that 1. the CT scan showed all the other important trunk organs were clear, 2. there’s only one tumor as opposed to multiple, and 3. even though the growth is not small, we probably caught it fairly early. I’ve had several instances over the last few months where I experienced sharp to diffuse radiating pain in my abdomen up under the rib cage. Twice they did liver function tests and those were normal. I was told it was likely indigestion or something else gastrointestinal. Plus I’ve been losing weight like a mo fo (too much to be explained away by improved nutrition and exercise). Usually oncologists won’t do scans unless there are symptoms pointing toward metastasis, and being only 4 months out from finishing active treatment it seemed soon for another tumor to take hold (at least with ‘normal’ breast cancers), but I convinced my onc to do the CT scan and here we are.
I’m writing this from the airport as I head off to Florida for 10 days of fun and sun, friends and family, relaxation along with some outdoorsy activity, beach drinks and beach volleyball. The week I get back will be chuck full of more diagnostic tests/scans and appointments. There will be a liver biopsy to determine if these are, indeed, rogue metaplastic breast cancer cells that have infiltrated the liver or something new (not bloody likely). The onc is also sending samples off for gene sequencing to look for any markers that might be driving this beast and if there is anything to target on that front (though the results won’t come in for several weeks, so it’s more like bonus info for down the road once other treatment has started). They’ll do an MRI to check for brain mets (maybe my cray has a legitimate foundation!). My radiation oncologist is in on the convo at this point and she’d like to hit it with targeted rads. They are bringing in a surgical oncologist that specializes in all things hepatic (Dr. Emily Winslow…haven’t had a chance to do any research on her, yet) to look at the scan results and determine if the tumor is operable. Either route (or both?), they will likely opt to do a systemic treatment first, like chemo and/or immunotherapy, to shrink the tumor before going in with the localized approach. Sounding familiar? My onc is also going to get in touch with Dr. Stacey Moulder @ MD Anderson in Houston, where they are leading the charge against metaplastic breast cancer through research and treatment, and hopefully she’ll be able to weigh in with some sound advice.
That’s about it. You know what we know. I’ll keep folks posted as we find out more. This was a blow, no doubt…would have been much easier to win this cancer fight if it didn’t decide to rear its ugly ass head again 😦 But I’ve been through this shit already once before, so I’m seasoned and ‘cancer mature’ enough to know roughly what to expect, be my own advocate, and continue to view each day as a blessing. I also know there will be ups and downs, and I’ll need help to push through on the tough days. I know you guys got my back, because I have the bestest support team ever! The plan is to stay FIERCE!
For now, I’m going to hang in Florida with friends and family while seeing if I can kill off some liver tumor cells with copious amounts of alcohol. If you are reading this on the fb, feel free to chime in with your own liver meme or gif, the more personalized the better (I know there are some creative folks out there – give it your best shot!).
Peace and love and hugs-