Thursday, March 5, 2009

Biopsy & Genetic Testing

Hello all,

Tuesday was another day full of pokes and prods for Sara. The doctors allowed me to stay in the room for the entire procedure. I've often said that if I was unable to fly that I would want to be a doctor. My experience in the hospital on Tuesday confirmed that fact.

Here is the info on the biopsies. The doctors had Sara lay face down on a table with a hole cut in it (at breast level). Once situated and in the correct position, her boob was compressed and X-rays were taken of the mass. Then the X-ray machine was rotated +15 degrees and -15 degrees from center and more pics were taken. Once the location of the tumor was derived, the largest needle I have ever seen was positioned for entry. I had to look away when the doc scalpeled her where the "needle" was going to penetrate. They numbed her up and started the countdown. "3...2...1...Deploy the probe." A large blast of air released and the pencil sized needle was jabbed into the lump. There was some cutting noises and then suction as the sampled tissue was removed. They dumped the tissue (6 pieces about pencil eraser sized) onto a tray and then took that for X-ray (to ensure the calcifications were in the sample). Biopsy # 1 complete.

Then, it was over to the other table for the lymph node biopsy. Sara was positioned on her right side with her left arm up over her head. With the ultrasound, they found the largest lymph node and got 4 syringes ready for the FNA (fine needle aspiration). They numbed her armpit and inserted the needle into the lymph node. Once it was in the middle of the node, they pulsed it back and forth to get some cells in the needle. The needle was removed and the sample was extracted onto a glass slide for viewing under a microscope. The cytologist (lady who studies cells) was there with her high powered microscope to ensure a valid sample was taken. I got to look through the microscope at all the lymphocytes (it looked like 100s of tiny tadpoles). Once all the samples were taken, the pathologist came upstairs and looked at the samples to confirm that there were enough cells for a diagnosis. Biopsy # 2 complete.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went in for genetic counseling and decided to have her blood sent away to a lab in Salt Lake City for DNA testing. Here is what they are going to be looking for...

Location of BRCA gene



For those of you interested in Abstract Art, I think a large painting of BRCA2 would look good on the wall in your living room.

Following is a paragraph from the pamphlet we received from the genetic counselor...

"Two specific genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 play a big role in preventing breast and ovarian cancers. Normally, these genes act like brakes that help stop abnormal cell growth. However, ALTERATIONS, or MUTATIONS, can occur in these BRCA genes. When this happens, the genes do not work as they should, and there is a loss of control on cell growth. Certain groups of cells can grow at an abnormally fast rate, and cancer may develop."

We found out yesterday, that surgery is NOT going to occur on Friday. On Friday, we will find out the pathologist's findings from the biopsies and develop a plan with the surgical oncologist. We need to wait to get the results back from the DNA test prior to surgery (if she has the gene mutation, she is probably going to get a double mastectomy). The genetic counselor put a "rush" on this sample and we are meeting with her next Thursday.

I promise to update the blog on Friday, once we get the results back from pathology. Our hope and prayer is that the mass is contained within the breast and that the lymph nodes are clean.

Keep praying! Thanks, B & S


The Sanders said...

You guys have been in our prayers - what a lot to go through. It's been inspirational watch and read of your complete faith in God and His goodness. A good reminder to all of us, whether we're facing obstacles or not. I did like your wall art idea of BRCA2 (I liked the alpha helices and beta sheets it contained!). May God bless you two - we're praying for you.

Dan, Tami and William

Kim said...

the prayers are flying!

Kim and Derek

cowart family said...

I don't think that the GI Bill is big enough to pay for med school

Love you guys... and praying obviously

Ph, D, Nat, Lil B

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the update guys! We'll keep on praying! :)

Jim said...

I can remember playing the waiting game with Jimmy when he was testing for cancer. Sometimes I think that's one of the worst parts. We continue to pray for you both. Our love, Jimmy and Charleen

Mindy Haig said...

You guys look so beautiful together in the photo! Keep smiling! We love you!
Bob & Min

The Rurkas said...

What a gorgeous picture of you guys on the beach! Great updates. We'll continue to check your site daily for new news!

The Rurkas

Christina said...

Ok, so I know this could just about be the most mind boggling comment you ever received....but as I was reading through your blog I found something very interesting.

I was admiring pictures of your new little girl and couldn't help but think how amazingly similar she looked to my daughter Emily.

I wasn't going to say anything {because it's really not my place} but..... then I came across this post....this post where you discussed your wife's genetic testing of chromosome #17.

Interestingly enough, my daughter has a small deletion on her 17th chromosome & I know that doesn't really mean much to you {because you don't even know me} but because of the uncanny resemblance to your Chloe.............I felt like I wanted to tell you.

For whatever it's worth.........

Is this crazy that I am even telling you this? YES it is! But I had to say something....... just in case.

If you want to e mail me:


PS. I am really not a crazy blogger person, I randomly found your blog & I believe there are "reasons" that people are brought together. Even during these trying times.

Love & Prayers!