Friday, September 9, 2011

Resist the Devil

There is a chemotherapy drug that is often used in the treatment of Breast Cancer called Adriamycin.  It is better known as "The Red Devil" because of its red color. Perhaps it has also been given it's ominous nickname because of the fact that in addition to the many general side effects of chemotherapy, Adriamycin also has the potential to cause damage to the heart. I have been reading a little bit about the effects of this type of chemo and was fearing that this drug would be part of my chemo cocktail. Yesterday (Thursday) was our first appointment with the Oncologist, Dr. Garg.  I was anxious about this appointment because I kept feeling like he would be delivering my "Chemo Sentence".  Once again, God "WOW"ed me with his faithfulness through this appointment. 

The three of us (Blake, my mom and I) were all very impressed by Dr. Garg's knowledge and dedication to Oncology (evidenced by his sharing that his mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer). I feel so blessed that he is the one chosen to be my Oncologist as I will be under his care for at least the next five years. He began our meeting by explaining in great depth the meaning of my post-op pathology report. He explained that there are many positive aspects to the pathology report: 1. My surgeon was able to get the two tumors out (they originally thought three) and the sizes of them were 1.8 cm and 1.4 cm which are not particularly large.  2. There are good margins around the cancer (in other words, they do not feel there is a threat of cancer near my chest wall) 3. My cancer is Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Positive and Herc 2 Neu Negative (in other words, I am opposite of Triple Negative). 4. There is no cancer in the lymph nodes. 5. I have Stage 1A Breast Cancer (almost the lowest possible stage). However, there are two aspects of the pathology report (the Nottingham score and Ki-67) that concern him and they involve how aggressive the cancer may be.

After explaining the pathology, he states that because the cancer is Estrogen and Progestrogen Receptor Positive, I will take a drug (in pill form) called Tamoxifen for five years and this is a good thing. It will have it's own side effects which aren't fun, but it is very effective in reducing the recurrence rate of the cancer.  He says that because of the specific pathology results I have mentioned, it would be best to order one more test on my tumor cells called an OncoType Dx test that will provide more information about whether he would offer me Chemotherapy. In case you missed that, he said there was a question about whether I would need Chemo!  Needless to say, this came as a huge shock to me.  At the same time, he gave us the impression that his feeling (from his experience) is that the results of the test will show that I would benefit from Chemotherapy. We have been prepared from the very beginning that Chemo would be a part of this journey so if the results of this test show otherwise, we will Praise the Lord with all that we are. But the truth is, I am already praising Him with all that I am because Dr. Garg said there is no need for me to have "The Red Devil"! If I do need Chemo, it will involve one treatment every 3 weeks for a total of 4 treatments (3 month duration) and my cocktail will include drugs that will likely have the common side effects of chemotherapy but will likely be more mild.  

With all these thoughts of "The Red Devil", I can't help but think of the Devil that scripture speaks of, the Devil that Pastor Greg spoke of last week during his sermon. 1 Peter 5:8-9 tell us that the Devil is alive and well in this world, and he is out to tempt and deceive us. There are many days that he has attempted to deceive me about this journey I am on and steal my joy. But as Greg mentioned I am trying to resist the Devil with scripture and prayer as part of my every day.  And when I have days like yesterday and today, it makes it even easier to resist him.  

Today we met with the Plastic Surgeon during which he injected more saline into my expanders and removed the two remaining drains.  I had expected the expansion which again is pretty uncomfortable; however I was not expecting that my drains would come out because of how much fluid still seemed to be draining into them.  Dr. Chappell, who is also head of the Wound Center at AAMC, was confident that the risk of infection was too great to keep those drains in place.  Although, I am a little worried about where that fluid goes now, I was not going to complain about getting rid of the drains.  They are no fun!  And thankfully the removal of the drains was not nearly as painful as it was last week. He also checked my incisions and feel that everything looks "really good". I will continue to come near to God because He most certainly feels near to me!

James 4:7-8a "Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and He will come near to you." 

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