For the first time in 12 years, I used all my vacation time for this year. Traveling in Spain and Morocco for the month of May with Robbie and Carol was so engaging that I didn’t think much about cancer. I had a fantastic time. I saw architectural wonders, learned a lot of history, met wonderful people, ate tapas and drank Spanish wine, and experienced that most Muslims (in Morocco) are gentle, loving, family-oriented people.

Shortly after getting home, I had the surgery that was scheduled before I left. A lymph node under my right arm (metastatic breast cancer) was removed. My oncologist said it had grown from 1.7 cm to 2.5 cm since it had been scanned in February. It was starting to grow out of the lymph node into fatty tissue. The surgeon says she doesn’t use the phrase “clean margins” with lymph nodes. That’s not the news I wanted to hear.

Since it is estrogen positive, my oncologist recommended that I take a hormone treatment. I’ve taken Arimadex before, and had a recurrence while I was taking it. I can’t believe in it. I feel like I need to do something, but Western medicine doesn’t have much to offer. I’m again overwhelmed with the many choices in the world of alternative medicine.

In a guided imagery a friend took me through last week, when I asked a wise woman for advice, she repeated what the minister of my church had recently said in one of his messages – “all solutions are spiritual.” Since the first of the “six treatments” I am following is to deepen my spiritual life, this message is consistent with the beliefs I already have.

I will have a PET/CT scan again mid-August. A scan before that would be useless because the inflammation from the surgery would show up and we wouldn’t know if there was any cancer. I have six weeks to work on this spiritually before I get more hard data. I don’t know yet exactly what that means, but I’m excited to have a direction that feels right.

Later – Since writing the above, I had an appointment with my surgeon and I am so grateful that she gave me a copy of the pathology report. It said the mass that was removed (not the tumor) was 2.5 cm. When that was sliced, the lymph node was measured at 1.1 cm. There was no mention of the size of the tumor. Turns out they didn’t actually measure the tumor. I now know it wasn’t 2.5 cm because what she removed also included some fatty tissue around the tumor. It was starting to grow out of the lymph node, so it was bigger than 1.1 cm, but definitely not as big as the 2.5 cm mass she removed.

This is encouraging and exciting news to me. It means that what I have been doing could have been making a difference. It’s also amazing to me that my oncologist reported it to me as if the tumor had grown by .8 cm. It now seems equally likely that it had gotten smaller. I’ll never know. I only know it was at least 1.1 cm, and smaller than 2.5 cm, compared to 1.7 cm four months ago. And I know I can’t depend on my doctor to see and communicate to me the possibility that anything I am doing that’s not Western medicine could be making a difference in slowing the progression of my cancer.