Day 14: On and Off Switches: “Got it all Susan! Got it all Sam! First there was very little additional cancer in the right breast. In the left breast we found nothing! The best news of all though is that there was no cancer in Susan’s lymph nodes! … [T]he surgeon was almost ecstatic he was so happy!” The Actual Dance
Once someone has breast cancer the biggest piece of news is if the cancer is in the “lymph nodes”. In many ways lymph nodes themselves serve as on and off switches for the spread of cancer. They are the gateways from the breast area to other organs in the body.
In 2000, the lab testing of lymph nodes for evidence of breast cancer was done in two steps. First, during the mastectomy the lab would look at lymph tissue under a microscope to see if cancer can be seen. Second, the lymph tissue was subjected to various “chemical and dye” tests to see if cancer could be detected.
Susan and I were delighted when the surgeon told us that there was NO CANCER visible in the lymph tissue looked at during Susan’s surgery. The hospital even sent us a report based on that visual exam. “There it is in black and white, ‘no cancer evident in the lymph nodes.’” I how I re-enact it in the play.
Now there was fine print in that report which said that the conclusion was contingent on getting the chemical and dye report, which would come later. But I was taking my cues from the doctor, who didn’t seem concerned in the least. Indeed, one day I ran into him in the parking lot of the local grocery store and he gave me a “thumbs-up.”
Maybe – just maybe – the “switch was off” and this journey was not going to end badly!
Stat of the Day: If there is no breast cancer in the lymph nodes survival rate is 99% If 4 or more nodes show evidence of cancer the five year survival rate is 66%.
Task of the Day: Start a Journal. Here is nice blog about journal keeping for caregivers. Who knows, maybe one day you can use what you write to create a play!
Resource of the Day: A great list of breast cancer blogs is here.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.