While I was all set for a hurreidly-decided March 13 "double set-up" "frozen section" procedure,
where the right breast was to be removed if the 6-cm tumor was found malignant, there was a nagging question on my mind if indeed this was a good decision.
Days ahead, and in my talks with family members equally ignorant of other options in beating cancer, everyone seemed to accept my decision as good and most probably the best and quickest way to get the cancer out of my system. Everyone, except my Beloved, who had expressed we must find a second opinion. I hesitated at first, thinking it will only delay things; after all, we had talked to 3 doctors already at the UST Hospital.
Fortunately, and perhaps by Divine Intervention, at a social get-together dinner we hosted for a visiting friend a week before the dreaded March 13, some nieces who were practising nurses
came over. I did not want to talk about the disease at a party time like this and not to the younger ones at that. But in the course of the evening when we got to talk about their hospital duty caring for children with cancer, our conversation led deeper into a discussion of my case. I ended up showing them my lab results.
Vernice Tamayo the company nurse at SM conglomerate referred us to Surgeon-Oncologist Dr. ROMEO DIAZ who has set-up the Springfield Breast Care Center at the SMX, in the Mall of Asia. Dr. Diaz, a gentle-smiling, and highly experienced oncologist used to practise at Ohio and Springfield in Massachusets USA before deciding to move his practise to his homeland in the Philippines.
The appointment was for Monday, 4 days prior to Friday the 13th. After the physical examination, Dr. Diaz prescribed a different approach to treating the cancer on my right breast. In fact, a total reversal in approach. Instead of rushing to remove the tumour, and the entire organ, he explained very calmly that a BIOPSY must be done FIRST:
1. To determine the type of cancer, how aggressive it is
2. To determine if it has spread to lungs, liver, bone or brain.
3. To determine the stage of the cancer, so a WHOLISTIC treatment plan can be achieved.
This sounded plausible, especially when he explained that he might be able to SHRINK the tumour first with CHEMOTHERAPY, kill the surrounding cancer-stricken LYMPH NODES and if possible, save my breast.
His approach made more sense to me; I never imagined that he could even make use of the tumour as an indicator if the chemo will work for me.
I was all set that very day. I cancelled the appointed March 13 surgery at UST Hospital.
And for the first time in my 56 years, I went under the knife of Dr. Diaz for a BIOPSY right there and then at his homey clinic Springfield Breast Care Center.
The specimen, looking more like fatty bone marrow meat, was analysed at the Makati Medical Center, where Dr. Diaz also sent me for Liver Ultrasound, Bone Scan and several Blood Tests.
Although I came clear with the tests for lungs, liver and bone scans, the biopsy results bearing the Breast Panel and Ki-67 tests confirmed the 6-cm malignant tumor and several cancer-stricken lymph nodes. The scans could see about 6; Dr. Diaz says that there might be more, smaller that the scans cannot see.
I was diagnosed Stage 3A. But hopeful now with a better, perhaps the best, Treatment Plan ahead.