Spreading the happy
I’ve never stated what “stage” my breast cancer was on this blog. That was intentional.
“Advanced Breast Cancer” seemed like enough information for people.
*Quick Education: Breast Cancer has five stages: 0, I, II, III, and IV. Stage 0 means that you have a teeny weeny bit of cancer, Stage IV means that you have metastasis. Metastasis are when breast cancer has spread to one’s bones, liver, lungs, and/or brain. Stages 0, I, II, and III are “curable”; it means that the cancer is confined to the breast/lymph nodes. Stage IV is not curable. That is my off the cuff education; I have a strict rule that I do not Google breast cancer. Ever. No good can come from that.
Does it surprise you that for the past 10.5 months I’ve been hoping/praying/praying/hoping that I
have had Stage III breast cancer?
Who hopes for Stage III breast cancer? People who accept they have breast cancer and want to be healed!
Early on, in March 2012, it was quickly determined that I had a whole lotta nasty cancer. My cancer doctors cried when they assessed me in those first appointments. Crying cancer doctors = bad news bears. We had ups and downs and ups and downs with scans: spine spots, clear spine, liver spots, liver biopsy negative but spots still there, liver spots gone after chemo–were they cancer? Dr. Wonderful never committed to a stage with me. I’m okay with that, I’d rather be a person than a number to him anyway.
I’ve kind of been teetering on a tight rope. Am I Stage III, curable? Or am I Stage IV, and will be in aggressive cancer treatment for the rest of my life? The PET scan from last week was big: no sign of metastasis in the five and a half months since chemo ended. Praise the Lord. As an extra measure, Dr. Wonderful gave me a cell search test last week. It’s a test that’s only given to Stage IV patients because it is looking to count the number of cancer cells in the blood (which is the defining quality of Stage IV: cancer in the blood means that it has access to all those other organs and will eventually find a home and metastacize.) For the test, the nurse draws a vial of blood, and the lab analyzes it. Smart science-y people look for cancer cells, and count them. You want a low number, right? The lower the number, the fewer the cancer cells.
Want to know what my number was?
Zero. I have zero cancer cells in my bloodstream.
Squeeeeeee!!!!! I have never been so excited to get a Zero in my entire life!
ZERO means that there are no rogue cancer cells floating around in my bloodstream. It backs up the clean PET scan and gives us more evidence that I am cancer free and maintaining my NED (No Evidence of Disease) status.
***I’ve had a few questions about why I’m getting PET scans and more “extra” tests like this cell search test. The answer is that I had lots and lots of cancer; I was teetering on the edge of Stage III/Stage IV. In my unique case, we have to rule out the Stage IV factor. For most Stage 0-III breast cancer patients, tests like these would be overkill. If your doctor doesn’t think you need a PET scan, celebrate! It means she/he doesn’t think you have cancer! And if you don’t trust your doctor, then get a second opinion. I hope that helps.
I still don’t know if I
am was Stage III or Stage IV. I do believe that I have been miraculously healed of some Ugly Fugly Cancer; I believe that God and medical science cured me.
Dr. Wonderful is on vacation this week, so it was Nurse Practitioner Rockstar who gave me the results of the cell search test. She clicked on my chart, scrolled to the right spot, then did a fist pump and exclaimed, “Zero!”
I jumped up and gave her a hug, “Yes! That is so awesome!”
She said, “Yes, this is great. Oh I’m so happy for you. I might even have to text the boss (aka Dr. Wonderful) on vacation and tell him about this.”
I grinned. I love that. Happy news, happy people. I love spreading the happy!
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! –Psalm 47:1