My journey began on Mother's Day, May 8th 2011 when I discovered a lump with swelling and discoloration on my right breast. I had just had a mammogram in December with clean results. I was able to see my GYN the next day and he had another mammogram and ultrasound performed. My doctor called the following morning. He was concerned and said it didn't look good.
I had a biopsy done on May 17th and had a consultation with a surgical oncologist. I do believe it was the longest wait in my life. She received the results on May 19th and called me that evening & told me that I had cancer. She diagnosed me with invasive ductal carcinoma. Jacques and I went in to her office the next day and she explained the cancer and what it entailed. During my exam, she was able to feel lumps in my lymph nodes and ordered a PET scan to determine the extent of the cancer. She explained the treatment plan to us-- chemotherapy followed by a mastectomy and then radiation therapy. She recommended a colleague and medical oncologist to provide my chemo treatments.
I had a PET scan on May 23rd and went to see my medical oncologist, on May 25th. She reviewed the results of the PET and additional results from the biopsy with us. It showed the cancer to be stage 3C which meant it was in my right breast, lymph nodes, and chest wall but had not yet spread to my vital organs. From the biopsy results, my Onc. said the tumor was ER and PR positive and Her-2/NEU negative.
My Oncologist explained my course of treatment---chemo, surgery, and 6 1/2 weeks of radiation. Prior to beginning the chemo, she recommended having a port placed in my chest that would make it easier to administer my chemo treatments. I began chemo on May 30th, 2011. I had 4 treatments of Adriamycin/Cytoxin. Then I was given the choice of 12 weekly doses of Taxol or 4 dose dense treatments. I chose 4 of the heavier doses. I completed chemo on Sept. 19th.
On Oct. 24th I underwent a bilateral mastectomy. Unfortunately I wasn't a candidate for immediate reconstruction due to my late stage. My surgeon removed 15 lymph nodes, 13 of those ended up being positive & in 3 of them, the cancer had broken outside the nodes.I had a place on my chest wall as well. My Oncologist recommended 8 more chemo treatments due to this finding.
Three weeks after my surgery on Nov 14th I began chemo again. This time I was treated with Carboplatin/Gemzar to see if I'd have a better response. In late January 2012 I finished with my second go 'round with chemo. I had another PET scan on Feb 6th. On Feb. 9th I was given the blessed news that my PET scan showed no cancer!!!!!! I still had to undergo radiation to pick up any remaining cancer cells that might not be seen.
A couple of weeks later I began radiation. I finished my 30 rad. treatments on April 3rd of 2012. As I'm writing this I just began taking Tamoxifen and will have to have one more PET scan in May.
Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer I've tried to learn everything I can about this disease by reading, listening to my doctor, doing research, and talking to other women with cancer. It was such a shock learning about my diagnosis. I had no family history of breast cancer, and have always been healthy. After reading all I could...I found out how little I really knew about this disease.
Despite being diligent on never missing my mammograms & ultrasounds my tumor was missed. If I had not found the lump myself it frightens me to know what could have happened. I was already in stage IIIc, but it had not yet spread to any vital organs. Now I can't stess enough the importance of self breast exams and being proactive in your health. If you're not satisfied with an answer your dr gives you...get a second opinion or ask to have more tests run. Is our bodies and lives we're talking about! I have come so far in my journey. I feel so blessed!!!!
Update Oct. 8th 2012: I had my breast reconstruction on Sept.14 2012. I decided on DIEP flap recon. I'm still recovering & very pleased with the results. I will have part 2 of my recon.
Update Oct 31 2012: I had my routine PET scan which turned into an MRI. It showed 3 spots of cancer. Two on my L3 vertebrae and one on my sacrum. Fighting again with stage 4.
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