The NHS angels were looking after me again, in that I was supposed to get my results on Friday, but I received a phone call to say there had been a cancellation. This meant I was able to find out the CT scan results two days early.
Fortunately, it was good news. The scan didn’t show anything concerning other than a swollen lymph node under my arm. Having said that, being ‘slender’ (not my words!) makes the CT scan less clear so it is unlikely anything would show up. The consultant informed me that the team had already met that day to discuss what to do next with me. There came the bombshell as the oncologist had said he would recommend an operation to remove all of my lymph nodes (axillary lymph node dissection). So in one way the difficult decision of whether to do the POSNOC trial or not had been taken out of my hands, but I was a little bit shocked nonetheless.
I had done a fair bit of research since our last meeting and I had made up my mind that the POSNOC trial was not for me, as the decision of whether to have and operation or radiotherapy to treat the underarm area is randomly selected by a computer. I wanted to take a bit of control of the situation so I had already abandoned that idea. My research showed that the operation is likely to cause long term side effects, such as shoulder stiffness, lymphoedema (swelling of the arm), numbness and odd sensations in the arm. In terms of the effectiveness of each procedure, there really isn’t a huge difference, so I was swaying towards having the underarm treated with radiotherapy. I did convey this to the consultant, who informed me that the oncologist is actually a radiotherapy expert and yet he was still advising surgery as the best option for me. What could I say to that? I am not going to argue with the experts. The advantage of operating is that they will know if there is any more disease there, whereas with radiotherapy, they would never know.
Originally, I had been told that if they were going to operate, this would follow after chemotherapy. The consultant, however, revealed that they want to go ahead and operate this month, in fact, next week. I’ve come to the conclusion that they are very good at dripfeeding this type of information (pardon the pun). While she excused herself to go and talk to the admin team about scheduling in the operation, the breast cancer nurse stayed with us to carry out some swabs. No pre operation assessment needed this time as my previous one is still recent. I was handed a cotton bud to twirl around my nostrils, apparently to check for MRSA. I was more worried I might extract a bogey or two! The nurse also carried out a swab on my underarm wound. And it was as simple as that, I was good to go.
The following day I received a phonecall from the hospital to confirm my operation for the following Friday. Things are certainly moving along fast!