I am cancer-free.
Two days after the mastectomy Dr. C called me with great news: the margins were clean when they removed the tumor remnant in my left breast and they found nothing in the right breast. What should have been a Publisher’s Clearing House Winner reaction was the total opposite— I was so drugged up with pain pills and muscle relaxants that all I felt was relief.
The following week we met with Dr. C for a post-surgery visit. He walked us through a copy of the pathology report, dense with medical terms, and then asked if we had any questions. I had to hear the words from his lips, "Am I cancer-free?"
He took some time to explain that despite everything we’ve done with chemo and surgery, he can’t guarantee some microscopic amount of cancer might be lurking in my body. Since the cancer was invasive ductal carcinoma, there’s a slim chance some cancer may have escaped— we know it reached the sentinel lymph node in my left armpit but we removed that and we’ll treat the area with radiation in the coming weeks. With my early stage cancer and the combination of treatments, my odds are very good.
I love Dr. C but I was sitting there thinking, “Yah, yah, yah. You’ve told me this before, just tell me the words I want to hear.”
He shared that his wife had breast cancer in her 30s and again in her 40s. She’s now in her 60s and doing great. Then he told me he wants me to focus on recovering and living a long, long life because I am cancer-free. Finally!
I’d like to say we celebrated with champagne and an all-night dance party. Instead Jason and I took our youngest out to our favorite local restaurant for lunch and then I went home to take a Percocet-induced nap.
Just like it took a while for the diagnosis to hit me, I’m finding this hasn’t quite hit me yet either. It can be hard to believe at times because my body hasn’t recovered and I still have radiation and implant surgery to go. I need to be healthy and strong enough for all-night dancing before I really feel cancer-free but each day I get better, the happier I become.