Unexpected histology results - had been coping well but suddenly floored by yet more unexpected news

Hi all

I’m really struggling with unexpected histology results so just writing to share and see of anyone has any advice or reassurance.

As I know is true for many, there have been many twists and turns along the way since I was diagnosed last October with early hormone positive breast cancer in my left breast. I was offered lumpectomy but then found out I have the BRCA2 gene which made me much more likely to get a new breast cancer in the other breast, so decided to go for a bilateral mastectomy. I had this three weeks ago, and the recovery was much better than expected - I have tissue expander implants which have been expanded enough to look fairly similar to my old breasts in clothes and I am recovering well. Until this week I had been generally managing to come to terms with things, and feeling relatively positive, especially after surgery, feeling relieved it went well and less upset about losing my breasts than I expected.

However I got my final histology this week. The histology showed a larger tumour (20mm) plus many smaller multicentric tumors over a wide area, plus 2 positive lymph nodes out of 9. In all my previous conversations I was expecting to be offered radiotherapy and tamoxifen at the most, but am now facing full axilliary clearance surgery, likely chemotherapy and then radiotherapy (plus tamoxifen). I am also now awaiting results of a CT scan, and having a bone scan to check for spread - I had previously not even considered this a possibility, which was probably a bit naive!

This news has completely floored me and I am struggling to cope with this change in what I was expecting. I think the worry about spread and the idea of chemo are the things that are scaring me the most. And just coming to terms with this different picture, when I was feeling so relieved that I thought I was through the worst.

I am 42 and have 5 and 11 year old sons. We have been open with them so far and I had been able to continue being with them and enjoying it, and protecting them from the worst/scariest parts - but since my last appointment I am struggling to be with them and not think about everything. I am so sad to have another surgery as I had just got back to being able to cuddle my youngest in bed.

I have never used this forum before and hope this post is ok. Not sure what I’m looking for really but just sharing in the hope it will help a bit.

Thank you all xxx

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Sorry you find yourself here but glad you have reached out :heart:take things a day at a time and don’t try processing everything all at once, take it a step at a time and treatment at a time, things can chance each step do be kind to yourself many of us have had changes during treatments and many will have changes during treatments :heart: you are doing your best and that’s all you can do so please be kind to yourself :heart: if you can do ring the number on here and speak to a nurse and also tge someone like me option both you may also find useful as well as posting as much or as little as you need on here :heart:everyone will reach out :couple::heart: I think everyone of us has had a wobble through things, you will find your joy and what works for you, don’t let it take your joy, it’ll try but don’t let it :heart: :two_hearts::two_hearts::sparkles::sparkles:Shi xx

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Sorry that you’ve had to join this forum but you’ll find many people who understand. I was in a similar position of changing diagnosis, from what was originally a non-invasive cancer to post-surgery results revealing invasive cancer and three positive nodes. Going from what I had thought might be just an op and possible radiotherapy, to needing CT, bone scans, axillary clearance and chemo also floored me! I was 40 so similar age to you.
Things to help you cope - lean on Breast Cancer Now - I didn’t access the forum at the time, but I rang the helpline constantly and the patient nurses on the other end of the line would listen to my fears and help explain things/put them into context.
I called the GP and got started on anxiety tabs, I also started counselling which was amazing. Tried every day to get outside moving and keep on with normal life as much as possible.
I really started to feel much better once the surgeries were over and I could move forward with the next stage of the treatment. Then time seemed to pass very quickly.
Wishing you well for the next steps and just take it a day at a time x

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So sorry to hear this.I would say take 1 day at a time.We are here if you need to talk about anything .When I was diagnosed we got my 2 lovely rescue dogs.They have helped with the ball of stress I felt in my chest.Walking the dogs in the countryside really helps the stress .Going for lunch with my friends helps as we can talk about normal things too which helps keep sense of wellbeing x

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My story is, in many ways, similar to yours.
I was 38 (Dec 2022) when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the left breast. Despite the initial shock, I held on to the “positives” - lymphnodes looked normal, it was ER+PR+, grade 2, and despite there being a large area of DCIS, the invasive bit was under 2cm. The plan was mastectomy (my breasts are really small and tumour was in a difficult position, under the nipple), potentially followed by radiotherapy and defintiely tamoxifen. I was very positive, and was really relieved when the breast was gone. Recovered well, mentally and physically. 3 weeks later, I was told the 2 sentinel nodes were cancerous, it was now grade 3, and the DCIS had several sites of microinvasion, so they took the whole area (12cm!!!) into account, making me stage 3. I was rushed to have a PET scan. The wait were the worse days of my life. No eating, no sleeping. Looking back, I should had taken something for the anxiety. That came back all clear. Biggest relief ever. 3 weeks later I had the axillary clearance. Recovered well. I had seroma and cording, but both went away after a few weeks, doing the exercises religiously. I have full use of my arm now, I go to the gym, and so far no lymphodema. I was then given what felt like excellent news - one of the nodes had micrometastasis, but the other 7 were clear. At this point I found out I was a carrier of the BRCA2 mutation. This affected my chemotherapy plan, as Carboplatin was added to the mix. Make sure you ask your doctor about that - my initial oncologist was not onto it, but when I probed, he colsulted with colleagues and was advised that for BRCA, Carboplatin should be added to the usual EC + Paclitaxel regimen. Chemo is scary, but was not too bad for me. I managed to keep working (I worked from home) at reduced hours and taking care of my children (4 and 2 years old). I kept most of my hair by using the cold cap, so didn’t need to go into details with my kids (too young anyway). It all went really quickly, it feels like a distant dream now. Radiotherapy was, again, not too bad, just time consuming. I’m now on Zoladex, examestane and zoledronic acid. I’m considered high risk, so they are throwing everything at it. Physically, I’m really well at the moment. Mentally, I have dark moments, but also many good ones. I’m also on a target drug called Olaparib, taken for a year to reduce the chances of recurrence in BRCA-mutated patients. It is a recently-approved, high-cost drug, so you need to fit specific criteria, on top of being a BRCA carrier. On the NHS, I think you need to have at least 4 positive nodes. I was lucky to have my insurance cover it. When I finish with this one, I need to have preventative surgery. I hope you won’t be so high risk, so won’t need any of that, but I suggest always being informed of these things and asking the oncologist many questions.
From my experience, the stage you are now in is the worst, not wonder you are anxious. I send you hugs and hope for the best possible outcome. If you want a chat, feel free to message me!
Also, I don’t know where you are based, but in Kent there’s a group called BRCA Kent that is amazing. We meet regularly. They have a nice website and Facebook group too, where we support each other. xx

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Thank you so much for this. I’m so sorry you had to experience this too, but it is so helpful to hear of others with similar experiences. What was your treatment in the end?

Hearing from people on this forum has really helped and I saw some friends today which helped me stop ruminating at least for a short time! Xxx

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Really glad you reached out. Please keep using this forum as from personal experience I know it helps. I’m sure all of us have similar breast cancer‘journeys’. You get your head around one bit then something else crops up and feels like another punch in the stomach you have to deal with. I’m currently having some counselling free counselling from bupa through the MacMillan cancer website and it does help. It really does help to know we have each other and can relate to the rollercoaster avalanche of feelings that go along with it all. Lots of love being sent your way xx

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Glad the forum is helpful, I wasn’t ready to access it when I had my diagnosis, but I wish I had!
After the surgeries I had 8 rounds of chemo (once every three weeks), which were 4x EC plus 4x taxol. After that I had radiotherapy, then I started on hormone therapy for 10 years of which I’ve done 2.5 years so 7.5 to go! The chemo wasn’t pleasant, but do-able. I wasn’t offered any genetic testing as there is no family history of BC in my family, but worth asking if you’re eligible.

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