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Start of the battle

Posted on Friday Dec 16, 2005

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Our lives were shattered by Sherrell’s diagnosis.  Putting things back together again is practically impossible.  The time between diagnosis and the actual surgery is the toughest time emotionally.  The doctors do a ton of tests and look for signs the cancer has spread and after each test you’re anxious for the results.  It’s an up and down roller coaster ride leading up to surgery which usually has an open ended outcome based on what the surgeons find.  To complicate things, we really wanted to stay in Mexico, so we had to learn the latest treatments and procedures and find a team of doctors, medical equipment, and health care providers we felt were the best – all in a foreign language.


After two frantic weeks of research and help from family we settled on a private clinic in Guadalajara, Mexico.  They use the latest techniques, equipment and handle a lot of breast cancer cases every year.  The team works tightly together following the modern procedures used in the top facilities in the US.


On Dec. 16th Sherrell went under the knife.  There was a suspicious lump in the right breast and the left breast still needed more tissue to be removed as well as the sentinel lymph node.  The possible outcomes ranged from a bilateral (both sides) mastectomy to just a single tissue removal and a few lymph nodes.  We had a plastic surgeon also standing by for reconstruction if the cancer was too difficult to remove and a single or double mastectomy had to be performed.


Surgery lasted only 2 hours.  They were able to remove a clean section on the left side and the lump in the right side was benign which they also removed.  They tested the sentinel lymph node and 3 others and found microscopic traces of cancer.  On paper this is considered a negative result, but because the meaning of the presence of microscopic cancer isn’t yet fully understood, the surgeons removed more nodes (levels 1 and part of level 2) for further testing.  The overall results are really positive and our chances of killing off the cancer are excellent.


Sherrell’s recovering slowly and next week we’ll meet with the doctors again to discuss the follow up treatment.  It will most likely consist of 6 months of chemotherapy with about 5 weeks of radiation therapy.  Hopefully we can get the chemo done in Mazatlan, close to family and friends in a relaxing warm place.


Thanks to everyone who has written letters of support because they are working!


If I could only be remembered for one thing it would be for beating cancer.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

-- Lance Armstrong