Chrissy's Journey:

Survivor: Breast Cancer > Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma > Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 8 years ago, Female, Age: 53

  1. 1
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Feb/Mar 2009 After feeling breast abnormality in my left breast ("heavy", sore feeling, like you have after your period, that never went away), made an O/B appointment. Between the time of making the appt and going (about a week), also developed a slightly bloody discharge from left breast. That definitely scared me but I really didn't think cancer at this point. I thought I maybe had injured myself or had an infection. I never actually felt the mass in my breast, but he told me there WAS definitely a mass. 45 minutes later I was getting a mammogram and 2 hours after that it was ultrasound time. I was sent to breast surgeon the next day and did biopsy on lymph node and breast. Placed marker in breast to locate the tumor on further procedures. Everyone was very caring and nice, but my breast surgeon told it to me straight, it DID look like it was cancer. I was thankful for that. Four days later she called to tell me the results. She asked me if I was driving, and I said yes but I would be okay, I was almost to work. She kept me talking til she knew I was in the parking lot, then told me it was cancer. I thanked her and we made an appt, then I sat in my car and cried.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  2. 2
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Implant chemotherapy port

    Procedure or Surgery

    Mar 31, 2009 First meeting with my medical oncologist made me feel so good. Her words, "I have no doubt in my mind that you can beat this and be a cancer survivor". After three weeks of many tests and procedures, meeting with doctors, got put under for implant of chemo port. Very scary, have never had any kind of surgery before, only oral surgery when I was younger, and even then I was half-awake. They left my port accessed and I went straight from surgery over to cancer care center to get my first treatment.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  3. 3
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Mar-Aug 2009 Did not go that bad for me, considering. All the drugs they give you to ward off bad side effects worked well for me. No nausea or vomiting, or bad reactions. Wish I would have lost my hair ALL AT ONCE! That was the worst part, not losing my hair, (they assured me that WOULD happen), but the rate I lost it. Expecting for it to just fall out, not gradually lose clumps over a week or two, what a mess. I cut my hair very short before chemo, then used "buzz-cutters" I use on my boys' hair, but still having to deal with that on top of everything else; not fun. Sore muscles a couple days after every chemo treatment, and of course EXTREME fatigue I remember most.

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  4. 4
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Dermatologist

    Other Care

    Apr 2009 After cleaning out the garage on a very warm Sunday in April, I developed a rash all over my bald head and chest. It was very small red bumps that didn't itch, but looked terrible! Dermatologist said it could have been a reaction between chemo and sun/heat. Had it pretty much the whole time I had chemo, just on my head and chest, weird! Oncologist called it a "chemo rash".

    0 Comments
  5. 5
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Oral Surgery

    Other Care

    May 2009 In the middle of rounds of chemo, I develop a toothache so painful, I can barely stand it. Go to the dentist, I have a broken tooth which bacteria has gotten into, causing an infection. After xrays reveal two more small breaks in two other teeth, oral surgeon pulls three teeth! Infection clears up quickly, but I'm less three teeth.

    0 Comments
  6. 6
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Decision Point

    Aug. 2009 Lumpectomy followed by radiation or mastectomy? That is the question.

    0 Comments
  7. 7
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Sep. 2009 After chemo, tumor shrunk to .4 cm! After lumpectomy, surgeon told me tumor was very close to chest wall, but pretty sure she got it all. Margins were clear after biopsy, but more importantly, LYMPH nodes removed were all CLEAR. Thank you chemotherapy, you were worth it! And you put me thru menopause! Medical oncologist said I could probably count on my periods returning, because of my age (45) but that never happened to this day (age 48). If it does now, I will be upset!

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
    0 Comments
  8. 8
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

    Procedure or Surgery

    Sep. 2009 Same time as lumpectomy. No sharps, BP on left side for the rest of my life. Left side of body hurts if I overdo it, but I just have to watch it.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  9. 9
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    Oct-Dec 2009 Radiation started in late Oct '09 and lasted til right before Christmas. No problem here either, except for the daily trip to the cancer care center. 35 days straight, Monday thru Friday, skipping Thanksgiving. Again, doctors, nurses, technicians are angels and helped me thru it all.

    Painless Experience: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  10. 10
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    MRI guided biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Sep 2010 This MRI/biopsy was very painful! May have been the position I was in, lying on my stomach, and the biopsy needle going up into my breast, it was just yuck. Technician very nice and said I was doing a great job, she was getting good tissue samples, I was almost done, etc. I cringed thru the whole thing. In my heart, I think I knew it was cancer again.

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
    0 Comments
  11. 11
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    Sep. 2010 Had been on "cruise control", as my doctor put it. Check ups every three months, then every six. Nine months later, an MRI-guided biopsy shows more/another cancer. Had had an ultrasound, because that "heavy" feeling was back in my left breast, and it scared me. My breast surgeon thought everything was probably fine, but sent me to MRI/biopsy to be safe. Sure enough, cancer again, this time I found out on my birthday. Medical oncologist said it was a totally different cancer, not residual or "leftover" according to pathology reports. Said this only happens about 5% of the time, of course, that was me...

    0 Comments
  12. 12
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Oct. 2010 Did not get a choice on lumpectomy or mastectomy this time, breast surgeon said "this is what we are going to do", and proceeded to tell me exactly how the mastectomy would go. Says it is just a little bump in the road, and she is sure I will make a full recovery. It was just up to me to decide to do the flap reconstruction or implant w/expander. I went with the latter, because my breast surgeon's advice was this. She wanted to be able to monitor me better and the implant surgery is easier to see thru in mammo's and ultrasounds, as opposed to your own tissue, which is denser. Plus I had five kids at home at the time, and recovery would be quicker. Looking back, I would have done the flap (can you say tummy-tuck?!).

    Went as Expected: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  13. 13
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Breast Reconstruction (Implant)

    Procedure or Surgery

    Oct. 2010 Implant surgery at same time as mastectomy. Was in under four hours with both surgeries, but everything went well. All being said, it looked really good! My plastic surgeon is a genius in my eyes. The only problem I could see now, my new left breast looked better than my old right breast! Good bras solved this problem, but I still didn't feel quite good about myself.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  14. 14
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Relay for Life

    Celebration

    July 2011 Participated in my first cancer "walk". It was very powerful to see so many people come together for this cause. Lots of teens and young people participated. Everyone's efforts touched my heart.

    0 Comments
  15. 15
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Dermatologist

    Other Care

    Aug 2011 Again, I develop a very bad rash, this time it is everywhere, and it itches VERY bad! I have been done with chemo for two years, but apparently, it can alter your body chemistry and make you have allergic reactions you never had before. Was working outside and the summer had been very hot and dry. Don't now if there was something in the soil, or something down by the road, but I looked so bad I did not want to sit in the waiting room of my dermatologist. Head to toe blotches that itched so bad I didn't sleep for two days. He fixed me up with three prescriptions, tho, and I was better right away. Again, weird!

    0 Comments
  16. 16
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Relationship

    Loss

    Dec. 2011 Separated for the third and last time. Problems for my spouse and myself started way before my cancer. Sometimes I wonder if these problems even caused my cancer. Stress can do some bad things to your body. I'll never know, but after the last discovery of some actions of my spouse, I knew this was it.

    0 Comments
  17. 17
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 5 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Expander port removal and breast reduction (non-cancer side).

    Procedure or Surgery

    Feb 1, 2012 Removed the expander port, which slowly put air in the expander and kept my left breast tissue "expanded". Didn't hurt when plastic surgeon put air in it, because I am numb where the port is. Now that's out. Small reduction on the right "good" breast to make it more the size and shape of the left breast, to sort of "even me out". REALLY like the results, tho I am still recovering. Back to work last week, and wow that was hard! Very tired and sore, but not so bad. Don't know if I will have any more surgeries, right now, there is nothing that NEEDS to be done. Can get a nipple constructed for the let side, and an aereola tattooed on, but do I want that? I'm okay with these results, and I really hate surgery!

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  18. 18
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 4 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Cancer has spread/Metastasized

    Oh No

    Breast cancer spread to liver

    0 Comments
  19. 19
    • Chrissy
    • Experience with Triple-Negative Breast...
    over 4 years ago
    Chrissy's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Started in May 2012 on Carbo/Gem, did not shrink tumors, had to skip many infusions because of low blood counts. Tumors in liver grew while on this chemo, switched to Taxotere/Xeloda combo in Sept 2012 and ended up in hosp for pneumonia for 10 days. Onc thought it was the Taxotere, so she lowered the doses and I skipped the next dose. Once I did the lowered dose, still wound up back in the hosp in Nov for more infections. Just on Xeloda right now, 3 in morning and 2 at night and handling it very well! Taxotere was not good for me! But tumors are still shrinking!

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
    0 Comments