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.