4theFauna's Journey with Breast Cancer

Patient: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Newly diagnosed (has not begun treatment), Diagnosed: over 5 years ago, Female, Age: 50, Stage I, HER2 Positive: Don't Know, ER Positive: Don't Know, PR Positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    over 5 years ago
    4theFauna's Avatar

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Last week I had a lumpectomy to remove a suspicious mass. I didn't know what to expect because it was my first surgery ever in my life. I did better than I thought I would, partly because of a rockin' chick friend I have. I really don't like needles and this was my first IV... eshk. Afterward I had very little pain--I didn't even need the Norco. It took me three days instead of two before I felt ready to get back to work, but otherwise, it went really well. The biggest disappointment is that the biopsy came back cancerous... hence, my diagnosis. :-(

    Went as Expected: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  2. 2
    over 5 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    I JUST heard back from my surgeon (I had a lumpectomy on Tuesday and today is Friday). He had a strong hunch it would be benign, yet we're both surprised by a biopsy result of cancer. I'm still reeling. I'm trying to focus on the positives (i.e., it was caught early, it was small, it was removed on Tuesday with clean edges...) But I live alone and have always been very independent. The doctor talked of the possibility of radiation, lymph node removal, etc. Life was just starting to get good for the first time in decades... and now this. I'm not good at sharing with others... and I'm not looking forward to sharing this with family and friends because I know people will worry... and I'll have to ask for help and I'm not good at asking for help. I figured I'd practice by sharing on this site... It is what it is... I don't know what else to write...

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  3. 3
    over 5 years ago
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    MRI didn't go well

    Procedure or Surgery

    Sigh.... Tuesday I tried to have a breast MRI and I had what I can only describe as a panic attack. The nurse was patient and kind... but now that it's over I feel so silly and embarrassed. I was fine the first few minutes. I was laying there, listing to Vivaldi to drown out the noise. I was concentrating on trying to breath calmly and evenly... then I started to feel nauseous, then I felt like I couldn't breath, then I felt like I HAD to move and I just lost it. I never thought I was claustrophobic, but I do NOT like needles and I had an IV during the procedure. Maybe the needles were just too much? Has anyone else had a similar experience? The night following the MRI attempt I simply could not sleep because I couldn't stop thinking about how awful it felt. I caught my leg moving like crazy (hypermobility) and my fingers were numb for hours afterward. It really shook me up. I still don't like when others impersonate the MRI sound... it's like I'm haunted by the experience. I didn't expect that... Also I've been struggling in the few days since this event to not beat myself up about not being able to handle it. Everyone in my world has been supportive and are encouraging me to cut myself some slack, but it's a struggle. The next MRI is rescheduled for next week and we're going to try again--this time with Valium in my system. Please wish me luck!... and the strength to sit still.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    1 Comment
  4. 4
    over 5 years ago
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    MRI part deux

    Procedure or Surgery

    My second MRI was on the 19th. This one went much better. I had a friend with me, Valium in my system and Crooner music in my ears. I had a different technician who went more slowly and explained things in more details... also this technician kept the mic on so she could always hear me.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    over 5 years ago
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    MRI was clear!

    Celebration

    I didn't have Internet for a while so I couldn't share all this earlier. But the MRI on the 19th came back clear! They still needed to go in for the lymph node removal to be sure, but a clear MRI was a very good sign. I was surprised by how much relief I felt. I think I've been in a bit of denial... if denial works?...

    1 Comment
  6. 6
    over 5 years ago
    4theFauna's Avatar

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    This is my second surgery in the journey. The first one was relatively easy compared to this one. They injected blue radioactive dye under my left nipple - in order to find the nearest lymph nodes. I was really nervous about this until a technician told me the needles don't actually go into veins or arteries, they just go under the skin. I feel I did really well with the part of the process. Three nodes "lit up" so they took those out and did a preliminary test (freezing and slicing them) which did not show cancer. At this point I'm waiting for the biopsy results which will be more conclusive. However, I'm surprised by how this second surgery was much more difficult to recover from. I had a different anesthesiologist who I didn't like as much. He was interrupted twice during our pre-surgical talk, once by a nurse and once with a phone call. I didn't feel confident he was really focused on me as a person. Once in the surgery room, the nurse who was in charge of communicating with me was great. Although she was interrupted a couple of times by the anesthesiologist. She tried to stay focused on me because I was surprisingly apprehensive. She said that was normal when it's someone's second surgery... now they know what's involved. Unlike in the first surgery, I didn't gently drift off. I very suddenly was out! And I woke up in recovery not feeling well at all. The nurse asked what was wrong and all I could say was "I feel weird" which is unusual for me because usually I can describe my perceptions very clearly. I felt nauseous and then my legs started to shake uncontrollably. I felt like crying but I didn't know why. I didn't feel pain or anxiety, so much as confusion. The nurse walked away quite often--I think she was getting orders or something because she kept trying different things. I don't remember when or how, but eventually I felt more stable. I vaguely remember them wheeling me on the hospital bed to a room with a big chair... I'm guessing it was the same one I'd sat in before the surgery. I don't remember feeling like I was about to pass out, but I guess I did. I suddenly woke up in the chair feeling very disoriented. The nurse offered me apple juice and ice water, and I sipped the juice and nibbled on crackers or something. I tried to calm down while reclined in the big chair, but every time I started to feel a little better, a nurse would put the recliner back up to sit me up again without asking me. I would feel ill again and recline the chair back again, she would come in and put me right. I was confused on why she kept doing that. My friend told me later I was getting mad at her, but I don't remember feeling angry, just confused by her behavior. Why would she purposely was me to feel bad. I remember she said something about how I was "????? legs ????" as an explanation for why I wanted to lay back. We went through this two or three times... and then I finally threw up. I couldn't look at it for fear I would be sick again, so I don't know if it was blue, but it probably was. I felt better after I was ill. The nurse was probably trying to get me to throw up to get that stuff out of my stomach. It was a bit of a struggle but we got me out the door and I kept my eyes closed to avoid getting sick on the way home. After I stood up to go inside my apartment building I had to sit in the lobby and I threw up a little more into a bag the nurses had given me for the ride home. Once in my apartment and sipping ginger ale, my friend told me that my surgery was delayed for an hour. I have no idea why. I went in, then there's a lost hour when I was out, then the surgery, then I came out. I intend to ask my doctor about this "missing" hour. I've slept a lot since the surgery. It's been four days since the surgery and I still don't feel right. My urine was Smurf blue the first day, and I think my body is still trying to get that dye out of me. Also, just like after the first surgery, I got my period the day after. I struggle with depression at the best of times and it's been difficult to manage through all this. I think because I was off my vitamins for five days before, my period started the day after, and the pain... but I'm hanging in there!

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    2 Comments
  7. 7
    over 5 years ago
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    Lymph node biopsies came up clear!

    Celebration

    I found out last night that the biopsies on all three lymph nodes they took out came back clear. This isn't really a surprise because they did a test during my surgery that indicated no cancer... it's nice to have it confirmed more conclusively. I was surprised by the relief I felt when I heard that news. Only localized radiation and medication left to deal with... fingers crossed that they are as easy as I hope they are. Tomorrow is another day...

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  8. 8
    almost 4 years ago
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    Depression medicine

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I was switched to Effexor (an anti-depressant) in preparation for the Tamoxifen after radiation treatment. It seems research shows that effexor helps negate the side effects of Tamoxifen. I think Effexor actually works better for me than the Zoloft I was on before.

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
    0 Comments
  9. 9
    almost 4 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

    Painless Experience: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  10. 10
    almost 4 years ago
    4theFauna's Avatar

    Psychosocial

    Other Care

    My depression was difficult to manage during the radiation treatment because I was always so tired, and the daily appointments for radiation treatment just kinda got to me. The staff at the cancer care center were great, it was just having to go there. One of them (an angel!) noticed I wasn't well emotionally and suggested that I talk to someone there at the center that same day... and I broke into tears. After my radiation treatment I talked to a counselor and then the radiologist referred me to a Psychologist. The Psychologist diagnosed me with Social Anxiety Disorder and upped my anti-depressants. The medications with regular counseling has helped me improve my mental health. I think I've been adapting to my mental health and the cancer treatment made me unable to adapt forcing me to finally treat it properly. Come to think of it, I suppose that's a positive impact from the overall cancer experience.

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  11. 11
    almost 4 years ago
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    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    Radiation was completed in May 2012. As I type this it's June 2013 and I'm still free and clear.

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  12. 12
    almost 4 years ago
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    Tamoxifen for 10 years

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I am experiences symptoms of menopause because of the medication, but overall, the impacts haven't been too bad.

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments