So I got the results from the pathology today and heard lots of positive news. My lymphs are clear, which means nothing has spread, and there was no invasive cancer (‘microinvasions’) in the affected breast. There was no sign of anything troubling in my right breast.

But.

When they took the breast tissue and spread it out they discovered the ‘margins’ namely the space between the cancer and the sample were very narrow indeed, less than 0.1mm, which means I am at a higher risk of a recurrence on my chest wall, for instance. Dr. Leong doesn’t believe follow up radiotherapy is required, but is going to take my case to the review panel to check.

The DCIS was very long – 9.5cm. Given the mammogram & ultrasound estimated 3cm and the MRI 5cm, this goes to show how the best imaging can only tell you part of the picture.

A positive thing this demonstrates quite emphatically is that a mastectomy was definitely the best, in fact the only choice in my case. If I’d have gone for a lumpectomy, they would have had to reoperate. So that’s a relief.

There is masses to be grateful for. How much longer before it became invasive? How much more concerning would the lousy margins be if invasive cancer were detected? And some people’s results show no margins whatsoever.

Also, is the story as bad as all that? I agree with Robert that there could well be an element of arse covering:

I hate how specialists so often leave the ‘small chance’ language to linger. I sometimes wander if it’s a ‘cover my arse’ strategy due to fear of litigation. I think we’re all ‘ones to watch’ these days, there appear so many things out to get us! Like sharks in the harbour – make the water cleaner, have more pleasure cruisers and what do you get? More shark sightings. Not necessarily more sharks.

Am I disappointed that the all clear isn’t clearer? Yes. I had hoped such comprehensive treatment would make the likelihood of a recurrence miniscule. It is still pretty small, though.

Plus who amongst us can hope for a life free of worry? I know my worry list today is a good deal shorter than it was yesterday. When I feed Theo tonight, for example, will I contemplate whether I’ll still be there when he’s in secondary school, like I did last night? No. I am going to be there, for sure.

There is still plenty to celebrate. Plenty.

Cheers!

9 Comments on Woo! hoo?

  1. Hi Sam – so delighted to hear such positive news and once again really thankful that you had the original test that started this whole traumatic journey but has now given you, and all of us who care about you, such hope for the future. Lots of love xx

  2. Hi Sam
    Good news. This is all sounding very positive. I am so pleased. X
    Your physical and emotional stamina, fitness, health and determination ( not to mention all the love and support around you) will be major strengths on the road to recovery. Hate to be the pragmatist but I think you know you are looking for certainty in ambiguous waters. Your feet, heart and mind are firmly placed in the sphere of living a healthy life and to a ripe old age. But there is also a small part of you that knows there is a risk, however slight, of a return/ reburgeoning of the cancer – so no need to obsess about that but do allow it a small part in your future thinking. Bit like scenario planning, Focus on a vision of the best outcome – that is sustaining and reassuring, allow the possibility of a wiorst outcome while doing what you can to avoid it but plan around a middle case scenario because (and I don’t understand the theory of probability at all) that is the most likely outcome. I think you’re on a journey. You have most of the pieces, start pooint, destination ticket and and the preferred methhod of transport but with the vagaries of public transport you also need to be ready to adapt and be flexible. You can do this Girl, Woman, Confuscian thinker or Amazon warrior!

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Les. I am sure I’ll see the bigger picture eventually. It’s all terribly raw. Love the idea of being an Amazon, they cut off their boobs too, didn’t they?!

  3. Hi Sam,
    This is the first of your blogs I have read but from a couple of your status updates recently I realised something was happening. Blimey Sam. It all sounds as if this has all happened very fast. But that things are looking positive? Clearly I need to go back and read all your blogs to properly understand a little more of what you have been going through. Needless to say I am thinking of you and your family, wishing you so much love and good wishes for the years to come. I am being checked out for breast pain at the moment (mammogram imminently) so I feel reading your brilliant writing may stand me in good sted. All the very best and keep writing. Lots of love, Annie xx

    • Hello silver lining! How nice to hear from you. I hope all goes well for your mammogram. I’ll be thinking of you old (as in from lots of years ago!) friend x

  4. I raise a virtual glass of champagne to celebrate your results, your positivity & long lovely life ahead. Our state of mind counts for so much. X

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