Types of Breast Cancer

I’m so bloody confused. I have been told one thing and now another. How can professional Medical Oncologists interpret scientific  results differently?

So for the past few weeks I have been thinking  that the type of Breast Cancer I have is triple negative.  A few months ago I had no idea that there were even different types of breast cancer! Triple Negative they say. What the hell does that mean?

Basically a triple negative breast cancer diagnosis means that the offending tumor is estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative and HER2-negative, thus giving rise to the name “triple negative breast cancer.”

Every woman has estrogen and progesterone in her body so these hormones can fuel the growth and spread of some types of breast cancer. The purpose of hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, is to remove or block those hormones to prevent the breast cancer growing, spreading and also for recurrence.

Imagine the breast cancer has little antennas on it that pick up signals from hormones. The drugs you take for hormone therapy sends messages to the cancer telling it to STOP!  They act as blockers for the growth and spread of cancer.

For weeks I had thought that is was NOT an option for me as I have a triple negative breast cancer, thus no antennas. The thought initially scared the shit out me as I wanted every possible back up plan as an option. That’s why yesterday I went and saw another oncologist / head of clinical research at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, to see what my options were in case Chemo didn’t work. Could I be considered for any clinical trials? And of course, am I on the right treatment plan.

A Spanner was thrown in the works to be honest as he was absolutely certain that the breast cancer I have isn’t triple negative, but rather is estrogen positive. Thus hormone or endocrine therapy would be an option, and yes, would be recommended by him.

Seriously? How can the same pathology report be read by two medical professionals and their opinions differ? I’m frustrated too.

I mean this should be amazing exciting news. But to honest my heart sank when he  suggested I do 3 yrs of treatment (after chemo and radiation of course so still about 6-8 months away). Every woman’s treatment plan is different subject to cancer type and whether they are pre or post menopausal. Generally a common hormone therapy is recommended for 5-10yrs after Chemo & or Radiation. However because of my youth and mad desire to have a baby, he recommended i do the hormone therapy for 3 yrs instead of 5-10 yrs. Apparently within this 3 yr period the likelihood of recurrence is greatest.

I know I should be happy to cover all bases and make sure the cancer doesn’t come back, but the idea of waiting 6-12 months for my ovaries to possibly start up again is a lot to deal with, but now the idea of waiting another 3 yrs to try and even have a baby by IVF is overwhelming. Not that age should really matter, but it does to me right now in this moment. I’ll be 34 before I can even try and conceive through IVF. We have one embryo frozen. One chance at a pregnancy. Unless my ovaries start up again of course then that might mean more opportunity and chances. But the fact I have a low egg count to start with also puts a damper on it and reduces those chances according to my specialist.

But I can’t let my mind go down that path as it’s too painful to fathom. So instead I’m holding onto so much hope when I think of that little embryo that’s chilling out , waiting patiently, praying to the universe to look after it and keep it safe until the time is right and the stars align.

For now, I’m going to just focus on getting through the 14 cycles of chemo that I face over the next 5 months. I need to trust that the rest of it will all fall into place. I’ve got to let go of confusion and frustration as it’s exhausting. The type of cancer doesn’t change my chemo treatment plan so I’ll get on with this and focus on this first phase for now.

I’ll deal with the hormone therapy once the time arrives. Day by Day they say!

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