judijudijudi's Journey with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Survivor: Breast Cancer > Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Patient Info: Living with cancer as a chronic illness (undergoing adjuvant therapy), Diagnosed: over 7 years ago, Female, Age: 70, Stage IV, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    over 4 years ago
    judijudijudi's Avatar

    Cancer has spread/Metastasized

    Oh No

    I had been one of the healthiest people I knew. At work, I was often the person who took the call because someone had a bad cold or the flu. Not me, I seemed to have a fabulous immune system. Beginning in the early fall of 2008, I started having trouble eating very much. I'd been robust, but suddenly had digestive problems. My general practitioner said I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome because I was already diagnosed as having fibromyalgia. He never did any tests, now that I look back. I started to lose 2-3 lbs per week regardless of what I ate. I started eating cookies and milk for a bedtime snack trying to slow down the weight loss. I'd go to my clinic with complaints of pain because I started having trouble getting around; my bones really hurt. Often I saw other physicians in the practice rather than my general practitioner. Finally one day the physicians assistant saw me. She looked at my pale face and said, "Let me check something." She pricked my finger for a little blood and discovered my hemaglobin was down to 7. She sent me immediately to the hospital for a blood transfusion. Wow, did I feel better after getting the 4 pints of blood. Six weeks later I had to have another transfusion. By then I had been referred to an oncologist. I was diagnosed with stage IV lobular carcinoma (breast cancer). I had just passed my mammogram, but my primary tumor was under my right arm nestled in my lymph nodes where it had easily metastasized. I had an upper and lower GI. The cancer was in my stomach and colon as well. I was shocked, especially when the word terminal was used. At home I made a list of things to get done (getting my affairs in order) and within a few months, I was ready for the transition from life into death. That was just the story of the beginning of my cancer journey. Four months after I started on Arimidex, the cancer spred to my liver. I was then put on chemo for four months. I had a wonderful 16 mos of remission. Then another lymph node or mass was found up in my right arm pit. Faslodex treatment has gotten me to a stable condition, though I am not in remission. The spots in the liver are gone but there is some minimal activity in my bones. Time has been a blessing I've received. I am still alive and I feel really good. It has been a little over 36 months since my diagnosis. Time has allowed me to heal emotionally. I don't really worry about the cancer anymore. I am now 65 years old. I have a new grandchild coming next month. My daughter lives on the other side of the country. I hope I'll be able to see my grandchild; however, I accept the fact that someday, unless some extraordinary event occurs, the cancer will end my life. My mother is still with us; she is 86. Since I'd been so healthy all my life and practiced healthy habits, I expected to live well into my 80s too, but that expectation was shattered along with a lot of dreams about retirement years back in August of 2009. You know, nobody gets out of life alive. My mother always collected sayings. There is one that says, "Age is a gift denied to many." I accept that. I glance at the ages on obituaries in the paper. I hope no one thiinks that is morbid, but it helps me keep my perspective. Sometimes, in our small town weekly paper, there are as many as 3 obituaries of individuals younger than I am. I have an intense gratitude now for each day. The sky looks bluer. Yesterday, as my husband, grown granddaughter, and I sat out on a deck having dinner, I kept remarking at how amazing the clouds looked. I enjoy and savor life so much more now. I truly realize how very tenuous and precious it is. Statistics say that 20% of people with this type of cancer in stage IV will live 5 years or more. I intend to be in that 20%. I will do what I have to do: more chemo, clinical trials, whatever. I love my life and I'm not ready or willing to leave quite yet!

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  2. 2
    over 4 years ago
    judijudijudi's Avatar

    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    The tumor was under my right arm. Surgeon removed a lot of lymph nodes besides the tumor. After the outpatient procedure, I had a fairly bad 24 hour period running a temp of 103. When my husband called the surgeon, he wasn't concerned. He said people with as much cancer throughout their bodies often did. After the first 24 hours I gradually recovered over the next week. The entry point healed well and gave me no trouble. Luckily I have never to date had lymphodema, but I cannot have anything, even blood pressure, done on my right arm. I wear an med id bracelet now that gives that info to attending physicians. Inside is a list of my meds; that is going to be convenient when I go to the GP or some other doctor who doesn't have the info.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  3. 3
    over 4 years ago
    judijudijudi's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I did six rounds of Abraxine. I got an infusion every three weeks. I didn't have nausea, so I was fortunate in that regard. As the treatment progressed, I got feeling worse and worse. After #4 I told my husband I might reach a point where I no longer wanted to stay in a body that felt so miserable. I just felt horribly ill all over and was terribly fatiqued. I developed neuropathy badly in the feet which I still have two years later. I have a small amount of neuropathy in my hands. After chemo I also developed arthritis. Maybe I had it before and the chemical just exacerbated it. At any rate, it seems I'll have to llive with the neuropathy and the joint pain for the rest of my life.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  4. 4
    over 4 years ago
    judijudijudi's Avatar

    Bone strengthening drugs

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I take Zometa every other month. I've never had a port so I get pricked every time, which gets old. I do have some bone pain but don't know if it is related to the Zometa treatment or is just the lesions on my bones.

    Easy to Do: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    over 4 years ago
    judijudijudi's Avatar

    Hormone therapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    I get Faslodex every month. I get an injection in each hip. I have noticed no side effects. It takes only minutes to get.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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