Yesterday we met with Dr Nicole Hodgson at the Juravinski Cancer Centre here in Hamilton and got more clarity on Helen's condition. It's worse than we had hoped, but not as bad as we had feared, so we're experiencing a mix of relief, hope, and trepidation as we look at a difficult road ahead. The bottom line is that the cancer is an invasive type, is spreading within the breast, and is present in the lymph nodes under Helen's arm and possibly in those on the other side of her breast. It is estimated to be a late stage 2 or a stage 3 cancer. They won't know the precise stage or the grade of aggressiveness until after they analyze what is removed by surgery.
Dr Hodgson sees the need to move quickly, and is scheduling a modified radical masectomy, which includes the removal of two of the three strands of lymph nodes under the arm, for sometime between April 21 and 28. If all goes well, Helen will then spend one night in the hospital, and then return home, where home medical care will be provided. Once the tumors have been analyzed, the specific regime of chemotherapy and radiation treatments will be decided. We had hoped that chemo and radiation would not be necessary, but because of the invasive nature of the cancer, and the involvement of the lymph nodes, it looks as though it is the best way to go.
We were very impressed with Dr Hodgson and by the Juravinski Centre. I don't think we could ask for better care or expertise in tackling this. Now we're preparing for the next step, and learning a lot about embracing the unique joys and challenges of each day. Thanks so much for your prayers!
Greg, Helen, Eryn and Daniel