Today was spent with different oncologists at Tripler Medical Center. This morning we sat down and discussed treatment options with the Medical Oncologist (Chemotherapy Doctor). We left the appointment well informed and feeling better about the chemo treatments during pregnancy.
We've been told that chemo can be safely administered (with some risk) during pregnancy, but I was having a hard time understanding how that could be possible.
Drink alcohol while pregnant = Baby born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
Chemo (poison) while pregnant = Baby born normal
It just does not make sense! But, the doctor here has personally treated 12 pregnant woman with chemo, and all 12 have delivered healthy babies. THAT IS PROMISING!
As I've found myself doing lately, I will cling to God's word.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. --Proverbs 3:5
It looks like Sara will start chemo soon after our arrival in San Antonio (probably mid-April). It will be up to the oncologist at Wilford Hall as to what regimen of therapy Sara is treated with, but they will time it so she is done 3 weeks prior to the baby's scheduled due date. They want Sara to be "STRONG and HEALTHY" for the delivery.
Chemo will consist of visiting the hospital once every 3 weeks for drug administration. She will get 2 or 3 different drugs through IV for a few hours each time. Each 3-week time period is 1 cycle and she will most likely have 6 cycles.
Then the baby arrives...and then it's time for radiation therapy.
This afternoon we sat down with the Radiation Oncologist and got more questions answered. We were told initially that if she got a mastectomy, rather than a lumpectomy, that radiation would not be required. However, the oncologist recommends that she receive a round of radiation therapy regardless of the operation performed. As previously stated, we're going aggressive with her treatment. A round of radiation will increase her chances of a cure (to kill any leftover cancer cells that survive the surgery and chemo). The doc said that with her being young and healthy that the benefit is worth the risk.
Radiation treatment will require DAILY VISITS (Monday - Friday) to the hospital for 6 - 7 weeks. Each treatment will last approximately 10 minutes. They will focus 3 beams at different sections of her body (one at breast level, one at axillary lymph node (armpit) level, and one at clavicle lymph node level). They will "tron" her with powerful X-rays to kill the cells in those areas. Side effects will include "sunburn" and general fatigue. The doc said that based on recovery from chemo, most patients are elated with the way they feel during radiation. She'll still be fatigued due to a newborn at home.
Our next appointments are on Thursday when we will be meeting with the OB/GYN to discuss our "high-risk" pregnancy. We will find out the DNA test results to see if she has the BRCA gene mutations, and then we will have our final consult with the surgeon. If all goes well, we could be back in Misawa by Sunday (tentative).
Sara's mom, sister, and nieces flew out this evening and we're looking forward to a few days of doing NOTHING (including blog updates)! Thanks for your genuine concern and know that we appreciate all the prayers, emails, and cards.