Tuesday, May 30, 2023

State of the Schafer: Celebrating good news

Got some very good news last week: the pathology report for the tissue excised in my 2nd surgery came back clean, no evidence of cancerous or abnormal cells. WHEW. It was such a relief, it honestly took a little while to sink in. It wasn't until many hours later that I shed a few happy tears. I think I've been so braced against the possibility of bad news, I had all the emotional walls up high and tight. 

But now I can relax a little. No more surgeries! Chemo officially off the table! That is very good news indeed. I may still need radiation treatment--my surgeon will be discussing my case at a tumor board meeting tomorrow, plus he'll have my cancerous tissue from the first surgery sent off to an overseas lab for a special test that examines the cell characteristics and estimates risk of recurrence with and without radiation. 

Most women who have excision/lumpectomy surgery do go for radiation, but in my case, the cancerous area was deep in my left breast, close to my chest wall, which means an increased risk of heart and lung damage from radiation treatment. So, I will need to weigh the risks: potential damage to heart and lungs vs. risk of cancer recurrence. Having a really good estimate of that recurrence risk will be a big help in deciding, so hooray for modern medicine. (The test my surgeon has ordered is an example of AI used for good, in fact. My personal risk based on my tissue characteristics will be estimated by a model trained for accuracy on medical datasets. Note the part about "trained for accuracy"...as opposed to "trained to sound like a human", like ChatGPT. There's a tremendous difference there.)  

So....still a bit of waiting and uncertainty to go, but with far less worry and stress. That's a win in my book! Especially because now I can start planning to get out in the mountains again. The recovery from the 2nd surgery has been faster and easier than the recovery from the first, so I'm raring to go. Even if I do have radiation, it wouldn't happen until a month or more from now, because they'd want the tissue to be completely healed from surgery. That means I've got 4-6 weeks with nothing medical planned, woo hoo! It's not quite ski season yet, but the mountains are still looking mighty fine. Time to enjoy them.

On the Mt Iron trail overlooking Wanaka

Lake Hawea, with Mt. Maude behind

1 comment:

  1. Whoo and WOOT! So glad to hear the news. And a high five to modern medicine as well! If I was your doctor, I'd write you a prescription for "Many scenic hikes, taken as needed, and enjoy the heck out of 'em!"