jamrck's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 14 years ago, Female, Age: 68, Stage II, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: Yes

  1. 1
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I had just returned from a business trip when I got the call that I should have a second mammogram. In the next 2 weeks, I had the second mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy, diagnosis, and met with my primary doctor, oncologist, breast surgeon and plastic surgeon. Having had extensive conversations with my sister-in-law during her experience, I was better prepared than most newly diagnosed patients. I knew I wanted a double mastectomy and reconstruction. As long as we had a plan of action, I was ok.

    0 Comments
  2. 2
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Having had numerous conversations with my sister-in-law, I knew better than most newly diagnosed patients what to expect. I didn't have any infections, I came through the surgery as well as could be expected. The first 2 weeks were painful, but manageable because my husband could spent a lot of time with me and did everything he could for me. I had met with a physical therapist before surgery and I started various exercises the day after surgery. It wasn't fun, but it paid off - I lost no range of motion.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
    0 Comments
  3. 3
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Breast Reconstruction (Implant)

    Procedure or Surgery

    I had the most wonderful plastic surgeon - anyone who could make you feel good through this experience is magnificent. I had the fills done every 2 weeks, completed them in June, had the implant surgery in December, then 2 more surgeries for the nipple and aureola. Had one little glitch with the aureola in that the skin separated, creating a hole. I called my surgeon and it was repaired that same week. I feel good about how I look and told everyone that I got new boobs and new hair for Christmas.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  4. 4
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Again, I was very fortunate. The meds they gave me for nausea worked very well. My sessions were 2-3 hrs every week for 12 weeks. The pro side was that the treatments weren't as strong, which probably helped the nausea factor. The down side was that I didn't have recoup time between treatments, so my appetite dwindled to nothing and I lost 18 lbs. Food and drink either had no taste or a bad taste but I forced something down every few hours during the day to keep the weight loss to a minimum. This is the one time you can eat anything and everything to keep up your strength. My blood pressure normally is low but I went through a period where it dropped dramatically so I almost passed out when I stood up. They recognized what was going on, gave me some meds for a couple of weeks, and I was fine. It was suggested I get a wig before I lost my hair, so when it started coming out after the second treatment, I was as prepared as I could be. My friend cut it really short, then my husband shaved it a couple of days later. I was startled to find out how cold my head was the first few days. Have to admit this was probably the toughest part of it all.

    Easy to Do: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
    0 Comments
  5. 5
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Side Effects

    I had had a bone density when I was in my early 50's and it was fine. Had another when I was being switched from Tamoxifen to Aromasin and found I was osteopenic, a forerunner of osteoporosis. I'm now taking Fosamax weekly, as well as Vitamin D supplement daily. My fingernails have never been stronger!

    0 Comments
  6. 6
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Side Effects

    With Tamoxifen and Aromasin the hot flashes I had experienced during menopause returned with a vengeance. I figure it's a small price to pay. I'm told they will subside about 6 months after I stop taking these meds.

    0 Comments
  7. 7
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Side Effects

    Chemobrain is very real and very frustrating. You have to learn to laugh or it will drive you crazy. I laugh and tell people it's a combination of chemobrain, the hot flashes are frying the brain cells, and I just have too much to remember. In reality, I take better notes than I ever did in school and I pause in my conversations because I can't remember what word I want or what I was saying. In the research I've done, for the majority the chemobrain will start to subside 2-3 years after treatment. For a smaller percentage it can last much longer. It's been 4 yrs and mine is definitely not getting any better. If this is the worst side effect I have from my treatment, so be it. I got through everything else with flying colors.

    0 Comments
  8. 8
    • jamrck
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 10 years ago
    jamrck's Avatar

    Remission and Volunteering

    Celebration

    I finished treatment in early July 2007 and have had good reports since. Ironically, the further away I get, the more concerned I am that it will come back. You hear about people having reoccurrences or new cancer 9-10 years later. The good side of that is people are living longer. I know I can go through this again if needed, just let me catch it early. I've talked with others about this - I don't think we're being pessimistic - we don't dwell on the thought every day, but it's always a shadow that's there. In the meantime, I enjoy each day. I do have less tolerance for stupidity and whining. I try not to sweat the little things (okay, I still have to work on that). I'm looking forward to being a grandmother. I've also found a new passion in peer counseling. Since I had so much support from friends and family, I just couldn't imagine going through this without that support. And because I had so much upfront knowledge before I was diagnosed, I didn't go through the shock and anguish that most people do. If I can alleviate any of that by listening, answering questions, advising what questions to ask their doctors, then I feel like I'm doing my version of "paying forward".

    0 Comments