And the official pathology report says…
A month ago, I told you about the results of a biopsy of the original tumor site, and how it came back negative. And we cheered and celebrated…
But that was just a biopsy — that was just whatever that big fat biopsy needle grabbed. As great as that news was, it only grabbed a little bit…
But this is the big one, the important final news. This is the actual pathology results on the actual tissue that they took out of me — all of the original tumor area, plus some extra bits all around it in every dimension.
No cancer found. None.
Check it out:
That first bit, the #1: that was the sentinel node (I described that procedure in my previous post), showing “negative for metastatic carcinoma”. As in: no cancer there, so no reason to remove any other lymph nodes.
And item #2: the tissue removed. And it says in black and white: “No residual invasive carcinoma identified.”
Proof that we killed all that cancer. As in, no surviving cancer. (Yes, they still had to remove it. We’re dragging the bodies off the battlefield.)
Also important: the phrase “Negative margins.” When they remove tumors they also remove some tissue all around it, the “margins.” This is done to be absolutely sure there’s no cancer left behind. The margins are tested, and if cancer cells show up there, they have to go back and take out more. So, it’s important to have clear margins. I had clear margins.
(By the way, that other phrase there, “Focal lobular carcinoma in-situ” — Don’t be concerned. Despite the word “carcinoma,” lobular carcinoma in situ is not cancer. It’s a pre-cancerous condition. Here’s the Mayo Clinic’s explanation of it. And here’s Wikipedia’s. And my thanks to pal Mary Ann Eldred for clearing up my own confusion on it.)
So. No cancer. Otherwise known as pathologic complete response (or “cPR”). This is considered a significant indicator of an excellent prognosis, especially with my type of cancer (HER2-Positive).
So, to recap:
Really good prognosis going forward.
It all looks… just great.
I’m sort of stunned…
When we met with the surgeon on Friday to get the pathology results, he smiled and held up the report for me to see. After a while he said, “I’m waiting for the grin.”
It took me a while. I read it, read it again. Blinked, and read it again. Did an internal “Wait, what?” Read it again.
“Still waiting for the grin,” the doc said.
“I’m grinning,” said Sabine.
Eventually I said something like “Does that really say what I think it does?” And yes it did.
And yes that is a pathologic complete result.
And yes, there is no cancer left. And yes, and yes.
So. That’s it.
Still to come: a few more weeks of healing from surgery, then about six weeks of five-times-a-week radiation therapy. Also: continued Herceptin infusions every three weeks until next April.
But the big fight: it’s over, and the good guys won.
We got more champagne, even though it was only 11AM. After some cheering and dancing around (on Sabine’s part), and wandering around with a dazed expression (on my part), and hugging and crying (on both our parts), we drank it all.