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Thread: Help for sister asap please.

  1. #1

    Help for sister asap please.

    My sister (53) was just diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Apparently Stage 3. Growth rate 7, aggressive. It's 1.8 in size and irregularly shaped with jagged edges.

    From my minimal understanding she has the most common type of breast cancer. Her tumor is small. It was found early. So all reasons to be optimistic.

    Her lumpectomy is scheduled for Monday.

    Here are my questions and concerns.

    Her surgeon is in a smaller town. He's not a surgical oncologist. But he told her he's done over a 100 of these procedures. And he sits on the board with the Erlanger Breast Center (Chattanooga TN). He told her the board will meet to go over all of the results (pathology, images etc.) to recommended her treatment after the lumpectomy.

    As I shared her lumpectomy is scheduled for Monday. Having had cancer myself (not breast) as well as our father, grandmother (breast cancer), great aunt (breast cancer), uncle, aunt (ovarian) and we lost our 15 year niece to non Hodgkin's lymphoma only 9 months after her diagnosis. So I admit I am leery and even very protective of my sister.

    When I've have had lymph node dissections there has been a pathologist on site. Apparently this lumpectomy will be an out patient procedure which I understand is common but there isn't a pathologist on site. Even doing a lumpectomy do they try for clear margins the first time while the patient is on the table to avoid going back in? Am I wrong to question if a pathologist should be on site for at least the lymph nodes?

    I understand there is waiting in cancer. It becomes an unwanted partner. But when she had her needle biopsy she had to wait over 5 days for the results because they were done in the smaller town and the specimen was sent to the Erlanger.

    If you're wondering if anything is preventing her from asking for a referral and going to Erlanger the answer is no.

    This has all happened in the space of 2 weeks most waiting. I'm in eastern NC and due to the hurricane have been prevented in leaving. But I am flying to be with her this weekend. My parents went with her to her appointment yesterday and my sister had a long list of questions and was prepared to ask for a referral to a surgical oncologist.

    After the appointment she said they (she and my parents) felt comfortable with her surgeon and he was knowledgeable.

    It is her choice and I will always respect that which is why I am turning to this forum.

    I believe my sister will beat this. But I want to help her stack the odds in her favor for "now". So 3, 5, 7 years down the road we aren't living with regret.

    I also understand to expect the unexpected. No matter the best cancer surgeon and center more surgeries and treatments are common place.

    But what can you share with me about her cancer and the few specifics I have to share? Should genetic testing be pursued in this scenario? On our maternal side our great aunt and grandmother (they were sisters) had breast cancer. On our paternal side the history isn’t complete but our Aunt is currently fighting ovarian cancer. She seems reluctant due to cost and impact on future insurance. But it doesn’t seem that her doctor is concerned with the testing either.

    What have you done?

    What would you do?

    Today is Thursday. Her lumpectomy is Monday.

    How can I help her? It feels as if I am trying to get a ph.d in a few days.

    But have no doubt. I am positive. I love her. And most importantly it IS HER body and decision. And I support her.

    Will you help us with sharing your knowledge and experience?

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User lisa1962's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Sorry to hear of your sister's diagnosis and applaud you for being a wonderful advocate for your sister. When it comes to the lumpectomy, since she is comfortable with her current surgeon, combined with the fact he/she is working in conjunction with Erlanger, then it should be of no reason for concern after all, as you said, it is her body and decision.

    Since there is some family history, then yes, genetic testing probably should be strongly considered. I would have an open discussion with your own doctor about the process.

    For some reason, probably because there are many forums dedicated to Breast Cancer specifically, this forum tends to not be very active so you may or may not receive responses. Regardless, do check back for possible responses and let us know how it works out with your sisters appointment next week.


  3. #3
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    I don't have breast cancer, I have lung cancer but I am hoping I can reassure you and your sister a little. It is important your sister likes and has confidence in her doctor and it seems like she does. Because he is on a Breast Cancer Board that is great because he alone won't be making her treatment decisions but many other doctors will have input in deciding her treatment. In my case, there is a Tumor board that meets once a week and goes over the cancer cases and this has really reassured me in my particular case.
    Yes, cancer is a waiting game. We are always waiting on tests, to schedule and then results. After my lung biopsy I waited almost 1 week for the results. And yes, always expect the unexpected. You love your sister a lot and being supportive in her decisions and being with her at this time will help her a lot.


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