The Hormone Hijacking

I can’t help thinking about the history of breast cancer. How 100 years ago I probably wouldn’t have been screened. How 50 years ago surgery would’ve been inevitable. I’m not exactly sure when the outlook changed.

When I spoke to my general practitioner about my biopsy results, she thought she was breaking the news to me. Little did she know that Solis, the mammography center, had called the day before. They gave me the name of a surgeon. They said I would be having surgery within a month. I told her also about the doctor who performed the ultrasound pre-biopsy. The one who twisted his mouth when he said, “I’m sorry. We caught this early. It’s tiny.” I had been processing this almost official news of the C-word for nearly a week. I had hoped for the best, was prepared for the worst, and would be unsurprised by anything in between.

My general practitioner said that I needed to see an oncologist first. She said she knew a good one. “But you’re driving this bus,” she said. “Where do you want to go?”

I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Still, “I want to go to MD Anderson,” spilled from my lips. I can’t drive to work without seeing an MD Anderson billboard or hearing an ad on the radio. I know many-a-person who has traveled to Houston for treatment. U.S. News & World Report ranks MD Anderson as the #1 cancer hospital in the U.S. It’s seven miles from my house. Duh.

Within days I was there. A day of more testing. Another day of meeting my team: my oncologist, my surgeon, my radiation oncologist, and my nurse practitioner.

I was told that statistically breast cancer returns at the same rate whether a person has a lumpectomy or a bilateral mastectomy. Both surgeries were options, but I had a third option. A medical trial. No immediate surgery. With such a tiny hormone-positive tumor (that means my hormones feed this cancer), I will block my hormones with a pill, once-a-day for three months. Then, I’ll have another ultrasound to check the size of my little friend. If there is no growth, I will have a round of radiation (we’re looking at January now) and stay the course with the hormone blocker. If the tumor happens to grow, I’m no longer in the trial. I would have the surgery of choice and radiation. This medical trial has fought and won for others, so I expect the same for me.

I’m a week and a day into blocked hormones, and how do I feel?

Like someone hijacked my hormones. Duh.

Early detection and treatment is still considered the best line of defense against breast cancer. Current technology lets researchers learn at a faster pace than they did decades ago.

As technology evolves, more treatments — and, perhaps, methods of prevention — will be uncovered.

Healthline, “History of Breast Cancer”