Subject: My cancer diagnosis
I am dealing with breast cancer. To date, I have had surgery only. According to my pathology report I am on the cusp of early stage 1 or 2A; i.e., I had a 2 cm tumour with clear margins and clean lymph nodes.
However, my tumour was a grade 3 and I was to be set up with preventative chemo. I did a lot of personal research, along with watching 14 hours of video time on The Truth About Cancer. I did not think I needed the chemo. I was led to the Oncotype DX test which analyzes 21 genes, paid by Medicare; it determines the probability of recurrence as low, intermediate or high risk.
Low risk does not require chemo. I told my oncologist I wanted this test. She didn’t even seem to be aware of it, and did not think I would be a candidate regrading a grade 3 tumour but I assured her I had the requirements which did not include tumour grade. I will say she looked into it and said okay. It came back with a low RS.
Personally, I SAVED MYSELF from drinking the kool-aid.
Upon researching further, I find that older women (I am 75), with Luminol A breast cancer can do slightly better with hormone therapy alone. I thought Great. My naturopathic doctor has already told me she can spare me tamoxifen by lowering my estrogen level by natural means.
I looked up Luminol A cancer and found out that apart from not knowing my Ki67 percentage I am in that category. Continued research enlightened me to the fact that a low Ki67 percentage is good; it means the cancer cells are less prone to spreading. I also found out this percentage should be noted on my Oncotype DX test, so I called the secretary of my oncologist to ask her if they have my Ki67 value listed.
Next thing, I am connected to the oncologist who tells me in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t care HOW low my Ki67 is, I am required to have radiation. End of discussion. Since then, I have called the Genome place who tested me in California and this is confidential info.
I have emailed my family doctor to see if he can obtain this information, along with sending him an explanation of what has transpired and my Internet findings. Still awaiting a reply.
My Oncotype DX test of which I have a copy of the summary, states my risk of recurrence (RS) is 8% with hormone therapy alone. I am scheduled for a radiology consult Thursday, June 9th and my only hope now lies with hearing something positive from my GP or the radiologist, and/or my oncologist who said, once I assured her I would explore every avenue to get a Ki67 value, that perhaps she could get me the info but it would take time . . . time which I don’t have.
To do more personally is to beat my head against a brick wall. I am not secure enough to go with a gut feeling alone regarding no radiation. Even my naturopathic doctor is on the fence about the radiation, though she was not promoting chemo. I am aware of the risks of radiation and don’t want to have it unless it is really necessary; conversely, I worry there may be a few malignant cells floating about following surgery that can cause recurrence.
I am grateful if you can offer an opinion. I am a person who puts all the facts together and I rely totally on myself to make a final decision and have gladly signed the disclaimer below.
I have to begin by saying that your email is one of the best cancer consultation emails I have read. Your thinking, reasoning and research is spot on. I am dismayed (to say the least) that your oncologist told you:
“Next thing, I am connected to the oncologist who tells me in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t care HOW low my Ki67 is, I am required to have radiation. End of discussion.”
It is NOT the role of an oncologist to require patients to do anything. They can recommend, advise, encourage, even beg, but NOT require any therapy.
Having said this I can only tell you what the research says. Radiation lowers the risk of relapse by a tiny amount. Yes, it causes side effects. Yes, if you have radiation to your left breast you may incur heart damage. My mom had early BC in her early 70’s, had an aromatase inhibitor, local radiation and now, at 87, lives with chronic a-fib.
My opinion is to agree with your naturopath. No chemo but I am on the fence as to the need for local radiation. I am a product of the research I read. There are many non-conventional therapies that reduce your risk of relapse. And at the age of 75 it is important to consider your life goals.
I am sorry I can’t be more specific. Let me know if you have any questions.
Hang in there,
Multiple Myeloma survivor