Monday, January 19, 2015

Cross Lymph Nodes??

During an exam at my last doctor's visit in Dallas, my oncologist discovered she could feel a tiny lymph node on my left side. She reminded me that I had some small cross axillary nodes pop up in a CT scan back in August. At the time I didn't realize "cross" (that is, on the other side from the primary tumor) lymph nodes meant metastatic, so I didn't freak out about it. I was just happy I didn't have cancer in my liver/lung/bones.

Just a few weeks prior to that scan (when the cancer was worse) I had a very thorough ultrasound of my left breast and armpit at MDAnderson. Nothing showed up during that scan. On my most recent PET scan (when the cancer was worse), I had nothing pop up there either.  So it's hard to say if the one CT scan that found "sub-centimeter sized" cross lymph nodes was a fluke, or if the person reporting the scan was just being thorough to mention it, or if it indicated the presence of cancer on that side.

I have heard that sometimes doctors will continue to work in a "curative manner" (as they like to say) on cross lymph nodes, as long as they're axillary (in the armpit) and not behind or above the collar bone. That would mean having an axillary dissection (where they take all the lymph nodes out of your armpit) and radiation on the left side as well as the right. Obviously I would be totally fine with additional surgery and radiation if it continued to give me a chance at being cured.

So that is the big question currently on my mind- did I just go from having a 1% chance at survival to a 0%? For some reason, if I have a 1% chance, it feels like a still have a teeny weeny chance- but 0% means I need to start giving away my things and writing letters for the boys to open on their 18th birthdays.

We head back to MDAnderson next week and will meet with a nurse practitioner (my oncologist is out of town). I'm hoping they will be able to spend more time with me than the doctor normally does and answer more of my questions.

If I find out I'm for sure Stage 4 and therefore "incurable", there will definitely be a mourning process similar to what we went through after first finding out about the diagnosis and when we learned that the tumors had grown through chemo.  Please pray that the latest chemo drugs have been (and will continue to be) effective, and that the cross lymph node my oncologist felt is actually nothing.

I'll leave you with the verse that keeps my mind on Jesus when the fear of dying so soon tries to overwhelm me:

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 
2 Timothy 1:7


  1. Ashleigh,
    I just wanted to let you know that we are praying for you. I check your blog every night. You are a very strong women and I know Jesus is holding you tight. His love is flowing not only through you but through all around you. Thank you for sharing that love. Please let me know if there is anything we can do for you and your family.

    God Bless,
    Christa S

  2. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and pray for your healing.

  3. I have been going through the process of wrapping up my "affairs" in the event of my death. I am so thankful my mom has spearheaded the difficult parts of this aspect of chemo. I have gaurdianship for my children, my financial info is in the right hands, my exh who is uninvolved with my children is being informed by the attorney and we got a medical power of attorney in place as well. Don't leave these things for if you are given a terminal dx or end up progressing to stage lV. If someone else can do the leg work for you it might be a little easier to swallow and having a husband like you do greatly helps your situation over mine but it's still such an important thing to do. I have started writing letters to my children and filling out a wonderful book a friend got for me called "all about me" with hundreds of questions so that my kids will know me after I'm gone. I have a 10 yr, 8 yr, 5 yr and 2 yr old. I also fear that my youngest ones will not have memories of me. Also I wanted to point you in the direction of an organization that does professional free videography services to leave a legacy for your children.
    We always want to hope and stay with our children but this scary disease gives us empowerment to overcome things for ourselves. You are a strong person because of your own spirit and light!

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