Alrighty, so the pathology on my receptor tests came in last night. Jennifer Glover, nurse coordinator extraordinaire called to tell us the facts.
Before I get to my results, here’s the scoop, as I currently understand it (I’m a newbie to all of this). They look at my cancer to determine if it’s receptive to (read: fed by) estrogen (ER), progesterone (PR) and/or Her2/Neu. If the cancer is fed by any one of these (or all three) the doctors treat it with hormone therapy. So, for example, I believe that Giuliani’s cancer was fed by estrogen, so her after care treatment includes taking tamoxifen for 5 years. That is an estrogen blocker (hence the reason why her doctor told her she shouldn’t carry a pregnancy herself — because her body would produce estrogen as a normal part of pregnancy — that’s why she opted for a gestational surrogate). So, basically, the doctors give you pills to stop the your bodies’ production of the hormone that feeds your cancer. Makes sense, right?
If you are “triple negative” (test negative for ER, PR and Her2/Neu) that means your cancer is not fed by hormones, so your treatment plan will likely be more aggressive because they don’t know what’s feeding the cancer. From what I’m told, those with triple negative cannot escape chemo.
So my results are:
ER – weak positive (1-5%)
PR – negative
Her2/neu – negative
According to Jennifer Glover, the weak positive ER will likely be read as a negative by my docs. Meaning that hormone therapy probably won’t be of any benefit to me. Upside to this news (or at least that’s how Paul and I are choosing to look at it — as an upside), I probably won’t be on estrogen blockers for years like Giuliani — which means there is still a chance I can carry a pregnancy after all this crap is behind us. Down side to this reading is that I’m probably a triple negative — which means I’ll probably have to have chemo. OMG. Yuck.
We meet with the oncologists today and will hear all that they have to say. Everything we know so far came from our nurse — and she can’t interpret any of my test results. She did give us some good advice though — she said “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. I like that.
Paul is worried that I am in total denial. I am. I still think that this whole thing is no big deal. But hearing “chemo” last night made it a lot more real for me. However, my brain is playing tricks on me again. It’s convinced itself that, because our beloved Jennifer Glover is a nurse, not a doctor — I don’t have to listen to her at all. I have about 4 more hours until our appointment at PAMF. I choose blissful denial for now…