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Oct 22, 2019 04:22PM
So sorry you're going through this, Cdel. When I was first diagnosed 10 years ago my head was on fire with all the info being thrown at me, and the struggle to make sense of this strange new cancer world I'd been thrown into. But you will get through this! It absolutely gets better. Those initial days and weeks after diagnosis are the worst -- worse for me than anything treatment did to me.
I had surgery first when I was first diagnosed 10 years ago, but now Im getting chemo first, and I find it very reassuring because when your tumour is still in place, your doctors can watch it shrinking on scans. When you have early stage cancer, there wouldn't be any markers in your blood, so the tumour is actually the one way you and your doctors can know for sure that the treatment is working. That said, the chemo is expected to work -- and the drawback is that they can't stage the cancer as effectively without removing it, and any lymph nodes, first. In any case, the research shows neither method has an advantage in prolonging life when they look at overall numbers.
But there are many individual reasons why one method makes more sense for each cancer patient, and your medical team would have considered these. For me, my oncologist really wanted to give me a lighter dose of chemo since I'd already been blasted with it the first time and sustained some bone marrow damage. So it became more important to make absolutely sure that this lighter chemo was working. As well, the biology of your tumor matters a lot too (i.e. hormone positive vs. her2+ vs triple neg).
I think you're smart to be asking these questions now, and I would make an appointment with your oncologist to ask him or her to explain why they want to do chemo first in your case, and to talk you through the benefits vs. drawbacks of this approach. If your onc has decent communication skills, thist should set your mind at ease and give you confidence in your team. Good luck!
11/1/2009, 1cm, Stage I, 0/9 nodes, ER-/PR+, HER2+
9/2019, IDC, Left, 1cm, ER-, HER2+