The Most Important Day Ever: No Chemo

There is an anxiousness in the air and my nerves are on edge.  I’ve been waiting for this day for weeks now.  This is the day I see my oncologist to find out if the pathology results show that I need chemotherapy or not.

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After the initial pathology report came back and confirmed the size and type of cancer my tumors were, my oncologist wanted to send the tumors off to another lab for additional testing.  He said I was a good candidate for this test.  It’s called the OncoType DX Test.  It takes an additional two weeks to get the results.

This test gives you a score from 0 – 100.  It’s called the Recurrence Score. A lower score means there is less chance of the cancer returning than if you have a high score.  A low score also means that chemotherapy will have minimal benefit to the patient; whereas, a high score means the patient would have a significant benefit from having chemo.

Waiting as patiently as I could for the physician to come in to see me, the only sound in the room is the steady tick, tock of the analog clock on the wall. It seems deafening to me sitting here in the silence, and I think to myself that it’s quite obnoxious.  I don’t think anyone that’s designed these patient rooms has ever sat in one in the silence to realize how loud they are when you are waiting anxiously for news.

Instead of the doctor coming in to see me, his nurse came in who I’ve never met before today.  She asks me if I know my score yet and I said that I didn’t.  It’s a 17 she says and chemotherapy would not be recommended for me.

As my brain began to process this news, tears filled my eyes and flowed uncontrollably down my face with relief.  My Recurrence Score is low enough that chemo is officially off the table.

She discussed the fact that I will be going on Tamoxifen for the next five to ten years.  It’s an estrogen suppressant.  I have to take it because my breast cancer was estrogen positive, and it is more likely to come back if I don’t take this medicine.  There are a lot of possible side effects from Tamoxifen, and I’m nervous about going on it.  I have some questions around it and will do another post just about it.

Jumping for joy in the exam room after she stepped out to get my oncologist, tears were still rolling down my cheeks.  I doubted that I would ever hear those words, but she really did just say them to me.  The relief is something I don’t think I can even put into words appropriately.  The thought of going through chemo had weighed heavily on me, but I had resigned myself to the fact that it was a possibility and that I would do whatever I had to in order to be cancer free.

When my oncologist came in to see me, I ran over and just hugged him.  It was the best news I could’ve received under the circumstances.  He was excited to share the news with me, and he told me I should go celebrate big!

He’s so wonderful and the first thing after discussing the news, he asked me what needed to happen to get me flying again.  How awesome is that?  I told him that I needed an FAA Medical Examiner to help me navigate the process.  He suggested a physician he knows and said he would make an appointment with him for me.  Yes!

I’m going to fly again!  Did you hear that?  I’m going to fly again!  The words echoed in my mind.  I’m really going to be able to fly again after I get through this!  I’ll still have to have reconstruction surgery but with no chemo and no radiation treatments, the FAA doesn’t really have a reason to deny me.  I just have to work through the process to get cleared to fly again.

Tears filled my eyes with relief and excitement.  I thought I’d never get to finish my dream of becoming a pilot.  Now, if I can get through these subsequent surgeries and navigate the FAA process, I can do it.  I want to scream at the top of my lungs and celebrate with everyone! Now, I really believe I will get to fly again.  It’s just a matter of time.

Velocity SE
Velocity SE

I know that there’s been much sadness in me over the last several weeks.  I was stressed about whether I’d have to go through radiation treatments, then whether I’d have to have chemo just to name two reasons.  I thought for sure I’d need at least one of the two. Those take time and can have some really serious side effects. I am thankful beyond words that I don’t need either.  This whole process is still very difficult and the surgeries aren’t easy.  I wasn’t sure if I went through treatments that I could get cleared to fly again but now, there’s a new hope inside of me.  Perhaps that fresh wind has come, and will ignite this ember that’s still glowing in my soul.

My broken wing is mending well, and I believe I’ll fly again. Bear with me as I work my way back to flying, it might be a story worth waiting for. I couldn’t be any happier at hearing this news than I am right now.  I think I’ll be celebrating for quite some time!

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