attypatty's Journey with Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcin...

Patient: Breast Cancer > Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma

Patient Info: Living with cancer as a chronic illness (undergoing adjuvant therapy), Diagnosed: over 5 years ago, Female, Age: 65, Stage IIA, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: Yes

  1. 1
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
    attypatty's Avatar

    Here's one that is apparently rare - I have been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, on the other side. Contralateral breast cancer. I guess that's the good news because it is not a recurrence or a metastasis.

    Oh No

    It started with a call back from a routine mammogram. I had no lump and no history of breast cancer in my family. But microcalcifications showed up on a mammo in both breasts and subsequent biopsies confirmed IDC in my right breast. I was in surgery for a lumpectomy within weeks. In retrospect, it all happened so fast, but at the time, the waiting between the second mammogram, the biopsies and getting the results were an anxiety-ridden purgatory. When the call finally came with the diagnosis, I spent a sleepless night crying in disbelief. This couldn't be happening to me. But it was.

    0 Comments
  2. 2
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

    Procedure or Surgery

    My surgeon removed the sentinel lymph node and one other. Both were clear of cancer cells! The axillary surgical site actually hurt more that the breast surgery in healing. I still have a numb spot on the back of my armpit and a weird scar under my arm.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  3. 3
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
    attypatty's Avatar

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Since my tumor was very close to my nipple, the surgeon was unsure if the nipple could be saved but she promised to do her best. And she did! All the margins were clean so she got it all. The lumpectomy made very little difference in the appearance of my breast and the scar is minimal, barely noticeable. When the surgery was over, I felt like the surgeon had given me my life back.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  4. 4
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    The chemotherapy drugs have all the side effects you hear about. I am on a dose dense regimen of AC which will be followed by Taxol. The nausea is pretty well controlled by Zofran, Decadron, and Emend. Plus Compazine as needed. I am just about to lose all my hair - it's coming out in clumps even as I write!

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  5. 5
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Bone strengthening drugs

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I am on a dose dense chemotherapy regimen and so take Neupogen for white blood cell count build up. I have to inject myself, which is hard because I hate needles (I could never be a drug addict!) The Neupogen does cause a lot of bone pain within hours after taking it. I feel a little like Jack Nicholson turning into a werewolf!

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  6. 6
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Clinical Trial

    I am in a clinical trial at Kaiser of Northern California to test a regimen of chemotherapy followed by Herceptin for breast cancer patients with my diagnosis - Stage 2, ER+, PR+, Her2 negative. My Her2 status is negative but on the higher end of the negative scale. So this trial will give some patients additional treatment with Herceptin after chemotherapy to see if it makes a difference. It is not a blind study so we know which group we have been randomly assigned to. I am NOT in the group which will be getting Herceptin. Still, I am glad to be part of a study that may help future breast cancer patients recover fully.

    0 Comments
  7. 7
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Anemia (low red blood cell counts)

    Side Effects

    My first blood labs showed my red blood counts very low - anemic. And the hemoglobin count was about half of normal. The only good thing is that I have a type of hereditary anemia (Thalassemia) and so my oncologist tells me that for me the anemia will be easier to bear because my body is already used to dealing with low red blood counts!

    1 Comment
  8. 8
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Constipation

    Side Effects

    The Zofran causes some severe constipation. A daily dose of senna along with Colase seems to help.

    0 Comments
  9. 9
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Hair loss (alopecia)

    Side Effects

    Hair loss- 6 days after my first infusion of AC and the hair is coming out in handfuls. I am planning a head shaving party on Sunday to get rid of what little is left. It's not like it's my hair, now, anyway - dry, brittle, thin and not shiny. So it's outta here!

    1 Comment
  10. 10
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Hair loss ended voluntarily

    Celebration

    Three weeks after the start of chemotherapy, the hair was coming out, in handfuls, in clumps, in sheets, whatever. I was like Pigpen, but instead of a cloud of dust trailing me, it was a cloud of falling hair. So I shaved it all (what was left, anyway) off!! What a relief. Now I wear beautiful scarves wrapped in exotic ways and pinned with antique jewelry and people love the way I look (or at least that's what they say to my face!)

    0 Comments
  11. 11
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 5 years ago
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    Finished AC and neupogen shots

    Celebration

    Last AC treatment and last time to give myself a neupogen shot! I hated those needles! Upcoming round of Taxol is not supposed to be as bad as the AC.

    0 Comments
  12. 12
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    about 5 years ago
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    Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)

    Side Effects

    Into my 8th round of Taxol and began feeling numbness, tingling and burning in my hands and feet. Also, I had facial neuropathy after my 6th treatment. My face tingles around my lips and feels numb in my chin and between my eyebrows (what's left of them!) Toes sometimes go numb and cramp. Uncomfortable but not unbearable.

    0 Comments
  13. 13
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    about 5 years ago
    attypatty's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    April 4 - my last chemotherapy treatment! Hooray!!!!!!

    Easy to Do: Not Specified
    Minimal Side Effects: Not Specified
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Not Specified
    1 Comment
  14. 14
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    about 5 years ago
    attypatty's Avatar

    Hormone therapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I started Arimidex April 26. I've been on it for 10 days and am experiencing slight nausea, severe dry mouth, and dry skin on my face. Compared to chemotherapy, though, it's much easier to endure. Good thing,because I will taking it for at least five years, maybe ten!

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  15. 15
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 5 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    12 down, 8 to go! Not too bad - just a lot of time consumed for a 5 minute treatment - changing in to the gown, getting set up, then ZAP! ZAP! And every day - it's like having a part-time job.

    Painless Experience: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  16. 16
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 5 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    Radiation is almost done and so far, so good. I have a definitely tan but no burning. The skin has thickened and the pores are enlarged, so it looks like a plucked chicken!

    Painless Experience: Not Specified
    Minimal Side Effects: Not Specified
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Not Specified
    0 Comments
  17. 17
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 5 years ago
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    reaction to radiation

    Oh No

    Finished radiation a week ago and thought it was finally safe to go back into the water, and then!!!! The skin peeled off the areola and I got blisters and weeping sores around the nipple. And pain. Radiation - definitely the gift that keeps on giving.....

    0 Comments
  18. 18
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 5 years ago
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    Friend with breast cancer is in hospice

    Oh No

    A dear friend who had breast cancer (surgery and radiation) 10 years ago has had a recurrence, with metastases in her brain and liver. She was admitted for hospice care last week. She will lose her battle with breast cancer very soon.

    0 Comments
  19. 19
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 5 years ago
    attypatty's Avatar

    Anniversary

    Celebration

    A year ago I had the mammogram that discovered my cancer. I had my first mammogram since then last week. I just got the results today - exactly one year since that fateful mammogram and (drum roll, please!) there is no evidence of cancer!

    2 Comments
  20. 20
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 4 years ago
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    Other

    Oh No

    After suffering excruciating joint pain with Arimidex, my one switched me to Aromasin. Everything was going great until! Overnight an intense, red, itchy, bumpy rash spread all over, head to toe. An allergic reaction, so had to be taken off Aromasin. Now trying Femara. Third time's the charm, I hope.

    0 Comments
  21. 21
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 4 years ago
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    Patient turns into caregiver

    Oh No

    In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction turn of events, I have just learned my 88-year old mother has been diagnosed with melanoma. Seems to be early stage based on the biopsy; still she will need surgery at least. But it's the shock, the reality, the fear that goes beyond the diagnosis. She was strong for me the past year; now it's my turn to return the favor.

    0 Comments
  22. 22
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    almost 2 years ago
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    Oh No

    New cancer possible. Call back mammogram - sent immediately for ultrasound then needle biopsy. A tumor in my other breast - possibly malignant.

    4 Comments
  23. 23
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 1 year ago
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    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Lumpectomy and axillary surgery for removal of lymph nodes. Second time around.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  24. 24
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 1 year ago
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    Genetic testing positive

    Oh No

    Genetic testing results show I am positive for the BRCA2 mutation. This is a game changer. I won't know the course of treatment until next week.

    4 Comments
  25. 25
    • attypatty
    • Experience with Invasive (Infiltrati...
    over 1 year ago
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    Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Bilateral mastectomies due to BRCA2 mutation. Very painful. Still recovering after surgery 16 days ago. Expanders are in and cause LaL kinds of discomfort.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
    0 Comments