Diagnosis

On March 8, 2012, Jen was diagnosed with breast cancer. At a minimum, it was Stage II, though a final determination was to come after a CT scan, chest X-ray, and surgery.

Specifically, after a biopsy, samples showed invasive ductal carcinoma (1.1-1.8cm in length, 0.1cm in diameter) in her left breast, and metastatic ductal carcinoma in her left axillary lymph node (0.9cm in length, 0.1cm in diameter), consistent with lymph node metastasis.

The presence of cancer cells in a lymph node suggests the possibility that the cancer may spread, and a mastectomy was recommended, along with additional tests. Fortunately, a CT and full-body X-Ray found nothing of concern, although Jen will require regular scans going forward.

The mastectomy was performed on March 22, along with the removal of several lymph nodes. Analysis of 25 removed nodes found five with cancer or abnormal cells, escalating the diagnosis to Stage III.

The oncologist recommended chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone suppression drug therapy. In addition, Jen will participate in a clinical trial studying the effectiveness on trastuzumab on HER2-low cancer patients (its effectiveness is already proven in HER2-high patients).

Chemotherapy ban April 26, every three weeks for six treatments, with an adjusted treatment every week thereafter for 12 weeks. Radiation commenced thereafter, five days a week for several weeks. The clinical trial will begin at the same time, and will continue some kind of treatment for a full year.

Once chemo and radiation was complete, genetic counseling and screening was recommended. About a year later, Jen had reconstructive surgery. Drug therapy was also prescribed for as long as five years.

In 2016, Jen learned that the cancer had returned, this time in her bones (which isn’t uncommon). As of September 2016, a variety of tests are underway to determine the extent and the treatment plan.

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4 responses to “Diagnosis

  1. Jen,
    You and Ryan have been so supportive of all of us fellow podcasters over the years. Please know that we offer that support back to you ten fold. Our prayers and positive thoughts go with you on your way to a recovery that is complete and permanent.

  2. Laura Eckhardt

    Jen,
    I’m one of your podcast fans from the Transmission days (SDOrioles). You are in my prayers. My sister is a breast cancer survivor and went through it all – lumpectomy, then mastectomies (was in lymph nodes), chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction and now long term medication. We both were tested for the gene and she has it but I don’t. Since completing all her treatment we have run 2 half-marathons and many other races – she is doing great. Anyway, if you want someone to talk to, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with her. It’s a scary time for all you. Thanks for sharing this with us – you and your husband are such treasures in the podcast world.

    With prayer,
    Laura

  3. With prayers and hugs- if you need anyone on heavy duty internet research duty I’m raising my hand eagerly to help out in any way at all

  4. I’m subscribing to your blog updates Jen. You’ll continue to be in my thoughts and prayers. Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you!

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