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Sunday, April 04, 2010 Kate, Community Member, asks

Q: My diagnosis is Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, Moderately Differentiated

So, it is infiltrating...that part I get but what does "Significant in SITU component and vascular invasion are not identified" mean?  Does that mean that they don't see alot of infiltration?

 

One more question if you can answer.  I'm going to have a mastectomy with chemo and possibly radiation.  I am a single mom, who needs to work.  I bought the short term disability policy offered at work but it only pays 60% of my salary so that means that I need to get back to work as soon as I can.  With the mastectomy and chemo, what am I realistically looking at for time being out of work?  A couple of weeks, a month, two months?

 

Thank you so much for being there for so many!!!

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Answers (3)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
4/ 5/10 7:43am

Hi Kate - Please read our Guide to Understanding Your Pathology Report; I'm sure you'll find it very helpful as you try to wade through all this medicalese! Also, please read our IDC FAQS for lots of good information about your general diagnosis.

 

The "significant in situ" refers to a non-invasive breast cancer - a kind of "pre-cancer" that many women have, along with their other cancer. And "no vascular invasion" means it hasn't traveled via lymph system or blood vessels - also a good thing.

 

If you're talking mastectomy with no reconstruction, you could probably be back at work (assuming you don't have a job with heavy lifting) in about a week. As for chemo, I worked all through it, and missed only the actual days when I got my infusion - 6 days total. That's not every woman's experience; and you won't know what YOUR experience will be till you actually have it, but chemo doesn't necessarily knock you out of work.

 

As for radiation - ditto, never missed any work, aside from having to go to the hospital each day for the treatment. Some women become very fatigued from it; I just didn't happen to have any side effects. If you have radiation, be sure to schedule it early or late in the day, so you don't have to miss too much work, OK? Anyway, you might be able to avoid radiation - it's a pain in the neck, just because of the daily schedule.

 

This is do-able - and being a single mom, obviously you're a strong woman. Stay in touch here, OK? We can help you through this. Good luck - PJH

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Kate, Community Member
4/ 5/10 10:35am

Thanks PJ!  I have to have a PET scan on Thurs so I'm a little scared on it because I don't want anymore bad news.  I'm wanting to get this show on the road and get it done and over with.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
4/ 5/10 1:58pm

Well, Kate, one thing you'll absolutely learn through this experience is PATIENCE. Surgeons go on vacation; radiation is backed up... Luckily, breast cancer is, in general, so slow-growing that in the end these little fits and starts probably don't matter - except emotionally, of course. Don't worry about all the scans (easy to say, I know!) - but they just want to be super-cautious during the diagnostic process, and make sure they've found everything that's there. Trust me - you'll get started down this road, and it'll all pass, and you'll be back on your way to good health again. Let us know how that PET scan comes out, OK? Good luck - PJH

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WillFightIt, Community Member
4/ 5/10 11:41am

My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
4/ 5/10 7:30pm

Kate, check into your disability.  You may not need to pay taxes on the disability check, which means that it would be more than 60% of your regular pay.  Ask your HR office the details to be sure you understand exactly what your would get.  How much time you would need off from work will depend on the type of work you do.  It would probably be at least a week before your doctor will want you to drive.  My surgeon estimated I would be able to go back to work after three weeks, but I had quite a few lymph nodes removed, so your recovery time may be shorter.  Many people do work through chemo, especially if they have a work environment that allows for rest and/or flexible hours.  I worked through part of my chemo, and I would have to say that home support was a big reason I was able to do it.  Don't hesitate to ask friends and/or relatives to help with meals and childcare so that you can keep that pay check coming in.

Getting well needs to be your first priority, and  extra rest will be an important part of healing, so try to balance your financial needs with your physical recovery requirements.

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Kate, Community Member
4/ 6/10 7:20am

Thank you Phillis!  I talked to my boss and he assured me not to worry.  He said that once my sick time was used up, that they would pay my salary for up to 4 weeks.  After that the STD would then kick in.  At last some good news!!!  Hope the good news keeps coming...I have a PET scan scheduled for Thurs. that has me a little worried now...gonna try to keep everything positive.   

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
4/ 6/10 8:53am

That's great news, Kate - it really helps to have an understanding boss/workplace. I'm betting this will all work out just fine - starting with that PET scan. Take care - PJH

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By Kate, Community Member— Last Modified: 09/06/11, First Published: 04/04/10