About a month ago, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. I've created this group as a clearing house of information and ideas regarding Kate's progress in her fight against breast cancer.
We are truly grateful for all our caring friends and want to keep everyone up to date on what's going on. However,it can be a little daunting to make sure that all of our friends are caught up on where she's at, so I decided it would be a good idea to just update in one place. Everything is developing so quickly that it's hard to answer everyone's questions, so hopefully this will be a good resource for our friends to check in and see how things are going.
I'm also fielding some of the discussion to give Kate a break from having to think her situation all the time. This doesn't mean she doesn't want to hear from everyone, because she does. The warm wishes and good energy's really been incredible. It. just helps cut down on the repetition.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kate's Cancer - IV & V

Update and some miscellaneous reflection:
Good news! After the first surgery to remove Kate's tumor, the pathological report that came back on the tumor left us a bit disheartened. They take the tumor and check it on 6 plains and if there's any cancer in the slides (in the margins), that means that cancer continued beyond the surface of the removed tumor.
We thought this meant that a mastectomy was the next step. However, Kate's surgeon said she felt confident she could remove the two remaining tentacles completely. So another surgery.
Yesterday (Wednesday) she missed a call from the hospital. Thinking it was her doctor's office (which it turned out to actually be a the medical oncologist who is in charge of the chemo side of things) she called there. The secretary said it wasn't her office, but she would check with Dr. Gadd. Dr. Gadd's secretary returned to Kate and said that it while the doctor hadn't called, she was just thinking of her (Kate) because she just got off the phone with pathology regarding her case.
The Margins Are Clear!
No more surgery for Kate! No more lymph nodes to come out and no mastectomy.
While we've been playing it fairly cool, there's tension lurking under the waters, so with this news there was a great burst of relief. Unfortunately I was at work with some stupid crap unfolding, but Kate made all the calls to the immediate must knows (mom, dad, etc.) and then took a nap. I worked through lunch and left early.
So on to Phase II - Chemo.
We have yet to meet with the medical oncology side of the house, but that's coming up on the 14th. Since there were cells found in her sentinel lymph node, they know some broke away from the tumor. To make sure they don't get lodged somewhere and become a breast cancer tumor somewhere else in her body, Kate will need chemo. Along with the radiation afterwards, chemo is really a mopping up procedure in this case.
More on this later.

On a personal note, this is all taking a bit of a toll. So many different emotions are jammed together and many not good. For one there's a bit of what I can best describe as survivors guilt. I wish I could shoulder the burden of treatment, but I can't. And now, with our life on hold, there's desperation for me to try and do normal things when Kate's up for it. Just getting out and doing the things we used to do is difficult as even food seems to have lost its flavor.
And there's a dark, resentful side which I'm ashamed of. I resent the cancer in that any ailment, funk, frustration that I might have expressed can now be easily met in my head with the thought that I have no right to complain because at least I don't have cancer.

It's hard to stay up to date with this. When we're not actually in the thick of treatment, we're just trying to be as normal as possible.
We met with the medical oncologist last week, who happens to be a proper Scots woman with an Oxford education. Kate's done a little background on her and it seems that here and her husband are a bit of mad scientists (they're researchers as well) when it comes to chemo and cancer. Anyway, the accent gave me an immense amount of confidence.
Here's what we expect:
starting the last week of this month, Kate will begin a series of 4 infusions every 3 weeks. Kate's decided Tuesdays is the most manageable day. The doctor asked Kate if she's chosen a wig yet. In other words, she is going to lose her hair. There will also be nausea and fatigue. Kate's put on a hell of a brave face although she's admitted that she's a bit nervous (as well as me). There's a likely hood she will need a port for the IV so they don't have to keep sticking her.
After this course, she's getting another course of one drug for 3 months weekly that will be less taxing on the system, although it may have some impact on the nervous system that will have to be monitored as she goes along.
Then, finally the radiation at the end. 6 weekly shots of that.
Today we get more details, so I'll provide specifics (drug types, etc.) for those interested in the next day or so.

I know I've been beating on this drum for a while, but it really is true - We are overwhelmed by the care and support from friends and family. It really has been the best medicine. I can't thank you all enough for taking care of The Kate.


  1. Both of you are in my thoughts and prayers. A few years ago my mother (who has since made a full recovery) was in a similar situation, so I feel for you both.

  2. Hey guys - just wanted to let you both know you are in my thoughts and heart. Love and strength to you both. ~Jen