Friday afternoon my phone vibrated. I looked down at the number and took a deep breath. I immediately recognized it as a call from Karmanos Cancer Institute, and sure enough it was Dr. F, my oncologist. He informed me that there was just enough tumor sample in my ovaries to allow the lab to complete the testing for the genetic mutation. As he talked for a couple minutes, my mind started to swirl and I knew it wasn't the news I wanted. This was taking too long...he was dragging this out...he kept talking...he would have told me by now if it was good news...I know him well enough to sense these things.
The biopsy was negative. Damn it.
What comes along with this news is the fact that I do not qualify for the treatment we were hoping to try next, called Piqray. It acts upon a mutation in the tumor called PIK3CA. Approximately 40% of women and men with my type of breast cancer (ER+, HER 2-) have this genetic mutation and Piqray works to inhibit this pathway. It has shown to be a very promising treatment, with minimal side effects, which is why we were really hopeful this would be our next move.
So, it's time to pivot.
What do we try next? How many options are there? What does the research say? What are the side effects? Nausea? Neuropathy? Fatigue? Which are infusions that I have to go into the clinic for? Which are shots? Which are pills? What about clinical trials? What will allow me to have the greatest quality of life?
Mike and I will have a telehealth appointment with my oncologist on Tuesday afternoon to discuss all of this and hopefully formulate a plan we feel comfortable with. The extremely difficult part in all of this is that no one has any definitive answers to these questions. Nothing is black and white. None of this is that simple. There are averages, probabilities, statistics. We don't know what will work next. It feels like a crapshoot, and that is tough to digest.
Not even 40 minutes later, my phone vibrated again. My boss called and notified me that I was being called back to work, starting Monday. I am grateful to have my job back, but I couldn't help but shake my head at the irony of all of this. After 8 1/2 weeks of being laid off and also waiting on the next treatment decision, all of this is happening at the exact same time. I was hoping to be able to use this down time to adjust to a new treatment regimen, but that's not the way it has worked out.
Once again, it's time to pivot.
Luckily, I am able to take over our telehealth patients which will allow me to work from home for a bit, until I am needed in the clinic. Of course there will be a learning curve while figuring out how to treat my patients remotely, but I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to ease back into work in this way....and to minimize my risk of exposure to illness by being in the clinic.
A lot of news to digest in less than one hour.
I felt a wave of emotions on Friday night...nervous, anxious, disappointment, relief, fear, worry, gratitude. I have been in a safe, lovely little bubble with Mike and the pups for the last 8 1/2 weeks...and I'm not ready for that to end. I don't want to be anxious about my health or feel stressed over work.
I woke up Saturday morning and made the conscious decision to choose positivity and to focus on gratitude. That has always been my compass which will steer me back to living life to the fullest, no matter what circumstances swirl around me.
Today I choose to be grateful that I even have treatment options.
I choose to be grateful that I have an oncologist whom I trust.
I choose to be grateful that I have a husband who will support any treatment decision I make.
I choose to be grateful that I will trust my gut, advocate for myself and ultimately be the captain of this ship - always.
I choose to be grateful that I haven't had much pain over the last couple of weeks.
I choose to be grateful that I have a job; one that makes a difference in peoples lives.
I choose to be grateful that I will have a paycheck; that I can work from home, and that one day I will be back in the clinic with my co-workers who are dear friends.
I choose to be grateful that we have had such a wonderful weekend and that it reminds me that the sun always rises, the world keeps on turning, and that life goes on.
We will continue to ride this wave.
We will continue to be resilient enough to handle what comes next.
Time to pivot.
We have continued to make the absolute most of this slower pace of life and extra time together. Hiking, biking, gardening, kayaking, relaxing...it's been such a blessing amidst all the chaos in the world right now.
My blog to keep you all