Carolyn's Journey:

Patient: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment more than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 12 years ago, Female, Age: 62, Stage I, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: No

  1. 1
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    Surprise. No family history of breast cancer. Grateful that it was caught early and I had good doctors. Grateful for family and friends. Determined to turn the breast cancer diagnosis into a blessing and that has happened over and over again.

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  2. 2
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Had first lumpectomy on January 4, 2005. On the day of the surgery, the surgeon discovered two additional tumors. Did not get clear margins. I decided to get a second opinion and went to Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, FL. Great move. After evaluation and consultation, I decided to go to Mayo for my ongoing treatment. I had a second lumpectomy on April 4, 2005 and got ready for radiation treatment. In the meantime, I started on Tamoxifen on February 8, 2005. Working with the team of doctors at Mayo made me feel in control as they have a collaborative, team approach. Wonderful!

    Went as Expected: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  3. 3
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Tamoxifen for five years. Horrible hot flashes and calcium depletion. Took Effexor XR to help with hot flashes. Just had to work my way through calcium issues with nails, joints, and teeth. It could have been worse. Always look on the bright side. Someone else always has it worse than you do! :)

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
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  4. 4
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    Overall, radiation therapy was not bad. The Mayo team worked with me on scheduling so there was minimal impact on my daily routine. I travel for my job and I had to stay in town for six weeks. But, I was able to work full days and have my radiation at the end of every day. The Mayo team was caring and respectful of my time. After three weeks, my skin started to burn. Although I used crea, recommended by Mayo, my skin still burned and was very sensitive. But, that's just part of the treatment. I was tired after four weeks and would take a nap when I got home from the treatment.

    Painless Experience: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Side Effects

    As noted in other sectkions - hot flashes, calcium depletion, joint pain, burned skin, and fatigue. I was able to manage all of these, continue work and I consider myself blessed.

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  6. 6
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    My family, friends and co-workers were super. That means so much. I suggest telling everyone about your diagnosis and treatment. Engage others and ask them to pray for you! It really helps! People care and want to be supportive. You can feel the love and the prayer! Wow, that's a HUGE blessing! I was very touched by my neighbor's love and support. They celebrated each step of the way whether it be with flowers, wine and of, course, ongoing friendship. The best. I took a trip to my favorite place, London, with my closest friends to celebrate completing treatment. Everyone should do something to celebrate. You deserve it! You should also celebrate life every day and count your blessings. Breast cancer has made me a better person.

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  7. 7
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    loss of people I met who had cancer

    Loss

    You meet a lot of people with cancer, various diagnoses and various stages. During radiation, you see the same people for a number of weeks and you become comrades in the fight against cancer. I well remember the first loss of a person going through chemo and radiation while I was going through radiation. While I knew some of these "comrades" would not make it, it was still a shock to have someone die. I stayed in touch with some of the people I met. We have celebrated our milestones and we have cried over those we have lost. It is good to have an open heart, in spite of the hurt.

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  8. 8
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    Decision Point

    After the inital diagnosis, there are lots of decisions to make: 1. Choice of doctors and hospitals 2. Course of treatment - surgery, drugs, radiation - lots of people, including doctors, have lots of different opnions. Your head starts spinning. Most important point - YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE! After inital shock and discussions with doctors, I realized I had to take control and be in charge of my life. After that, I felt more positive and was determined to move on. I did a lot of research, asked a lot of questions, and made sure I understood everything. That helped me feel in control and make the right decisions. One healthcare provider told me "I'm in charge and I know what's best for you." I disagree. I am in charge and you are here to help me get well. Needless to say, I did not go back to that doctor. Mayo Clinic understood my philosophy and we worked together on my successful treatment.

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  9. 9
    • Carolyn
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 5 years ago
    Carolyn's Avatar

    ongoing follow up

    Other Care

    It is very important to keep all appointmens and do all of your followup care. You have to make your health your number one priority. We all have busy lives and it is easy to skip appointments and put things off. DON'T. You owe it to yourself and those you love to take care of yourself.

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