DeeHenn's Journey:

Patient: Breast Cancer > Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)

Patient Info: Currently in active treatment (initial surgery, receiving chemo rounds/radiation), Diagnosed: 4 months ago, Female, Age: 55, Stage IIA, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: No, PR Positive: No

  1. 1
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
    DeeHenn's Avatar

    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    Seventeen Years later..... I felt a lump again in my left breast and was in shock for a bit. How can 17 years go by and NOW it returns? It took me a couple of weeks to accept it and go for the mammogram. And of course, needle biopsy, etc...here we go again. Good news, many advances have been made in treatment. Bad news, I am the primary income for my family....and I am older than last time....Deep Breath.... I felt a hard lump in my breast and wanted to ignore it...it was just a bump or knot and it would go away. After a two weeks of it not going away, I mustered the courage to have my husband feel it. Maybe he would reassure me that I was being a little paranoid. But, his face turned white when he looked at me and told me to go see the doctor the very next day. I was still trying to make it just a fibroid lump in my mind...the doctor would confirm for me. The doctor had me come in as early as he could when I called. When his face went white and he left the room, I was felt the fear. He came back with a prescription and a larger hand written note. He told me to go immediately to the diagnostic screening lab where a friend of his was waiting to see and would push me to the front of the line for a mammogram and ultra sound. He said- Go Now!. He had called his friend who would be waiting for me. I was still in shock and denial that the lump was anything bad...I had caffeine fibroid lumps before, it must be a bigger one...I must have been drinking too much coffee lately. My son was about to turn 4 years old in a week and my daughter was in third grade....it wasn't cancer...I was too young. I felt confidant that the mammogram would show a fibroid. I called my husband to tell him that I was driving to the diagnostic center. He insisted on meeting me there. I told him no, he needed to pick up our son from preschool....just stay home I will be fine. Thank goodness-he did not do that. When I arrived at the center, my husband was waiting for me. The nurses ushered me to a room for the mammogram and immediately into a patient room with sonogram and biopsy equipment. My head was spinning and still denying any danger was near. When the doctor walked into the patient room with my husband, I could clearly see the expression of concern on both of their faces. In a defensive maneuver, I smiled and made some silly jokes, but neither of them laughed. The doctor showed my the ex-ray and explained that he wanted to perform an ultra sound. If the ultra sound indicated what he suspected, Stage 2 Breast Cancer, he would pull some tissue for a biopsy immediately. He told me not to panic yet, that I had options and he left the room for my husband and I to have a moment together. My husband was scared, I was in denial. I told him-don't worry, I know its a fibroid. You go get our son from school and I will call you after the sonogram to let you know that there was no need for the biopsy. Reluctantly, my husband agreed to go get our son and then pick up our older daughter from elementary school. I would meet him at home soon to give a hug before I left for my evening shift at the retail store that I worked. Left alone in the room and waiting for the doctor to return, I began to imagine what if....but the doctor arrived with a nurse before I could follow that path too far in my mind. The doctor performed the ultra sound and the nurse took my hand and held it...her squeeze became stronger every time he moved the position of the ultra sound machine. Eventually, the nurse had my entire arm in hers. When the doctor stopped the ultrasound, he nodded to the nurse. She stayed beside me holding on tightly when he said, "Dee, this does not look good. I want to biopsy immediately." My head was swimming because I sensed their fear and sadness as they looked at me and held my hands. Next, the biopsy procedure-immediately as he stated was conducted in the same room with me on the same table. The doctor was so kind and gentle asking me about my life and my children. He slowly eased the information to me about what to expect next. The biopsy would be rushed to the lab and he would have results within 3 hours. He would call me immediately to let me know the results. If the results were indeed Stage 2 Breast Cancer, then I would need to see a surgeon and oncologist immediately. He told me that Stage 2 was very serious, but that if caught early, I could live to see my kids through elementary school and possibly a bit longer. I was in total shock. I didn't feel sick. I couldn't imagine anything that he was saying to me was true. The biopsy would show only fibroid tissue, I was sure of it. I went home to give my family a hug and assure my husband that all would be fine and went off to work. A few hours later, I received a phone call at work from the doctor who performed the biopsy. He told me that it was positive for Stage 2 Breast Cancer. That I must see the surgeon immediately and after surgery I would need chemotherapy and radiation. He also told me that the lab results indicated that the cancer cells were still splitting in the biopsy tissue, even without blood supply. The prognosis was not good. As my head was reeling, I asked him...how long? How long do I have to live if surgery and chemotherapy don't work? He hesitated for a moment and then managed to say six months, maybe a year. I hung up the phone in the office of the store and just stared out the window. I couldn't move or imagine that anything he said was true. The phone rang again...this time it was my family doctor. The breast diagnostic doctor had called my family doctor-they were friends after all. My family doctor asked how I was feeling. I joked with him and laughed, saying ah, heck...you guys are wrong....you will see. He told me that he called in a prescription for anxiety and another to help me sleep. He had also called my husband for me to tell him so that I would be sure to see the surgeon the next day. The doctor had already called a surgeon for me and arranged an appointment for the next day. He wanted my husband to make sure that I went to the appointment. He said, "Dee,you cannot laugh this one away. If you do not go as soon as possible, you will die before your children complete elementary school. Do you understand me? Are you understanding how important and serious this is?" I stopped joking around and said quietly, "yes.". Doc told me to go home that the prescriptions would be waiting for me when I got home. But I couldn't go home. I was the closing manager for the store this night and we had 2 hours till closing and one hour after that for recovery of the store. I stood in the silent office for another 30 seconds when the phone rang again. This time it was my sweet husband. He was scared, but strong. He told me not to worry that we would face this together. He said stay calm, finish your work, and come home. I managed to leave the office and get back on the floor to help customers for 2 hours. At the end of the night when all of the cashiers had left and I was reconciling the cash with my young Team Leader, I just stopped, and told him the news I had received three hours earlier. He dropped what he had in his hands, burst into tears, and grabbed me in a huge bear hug. That was the moment that I finally felt, "oh no".....what am I going to do?

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  2. 2
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
    DeeHenn's Avatar

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    The lumpectomy was a day surgery and went very well.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  3. 3
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
    DeeHenn's Avatar

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    At the same surgery as the lumpectomy, my surgeon removed the sentinel lymph nodes plus a 10-15 surrounding it. She brought me up from the anesthesia during the surgery just enough for me to see her face speaking to me...She told me that the cancer was contained to the one tumor and that on first review of the lymph nodes, it appears to not have begun spreading. "You are gong to survive this!" She had tears in her eyes, squeezed my hand and I fell back into the anesthesia darkness. I will never forget that moment. She was so kind and compassionate. Later in the recovery room she asked me if I remembered her waking me. I said yes, quite clearly. She told me that she was so happy to see the containment that she couldn't wait to tell me and insisted the anesthesiologist wake me. She said, now with chemotherapy and radiation, providing the biopsy of the lymph nodes comes back clear, I could beat this.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  4. 4
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
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    Implant chemotherapy port

    Procedure or Surgery

    In the recovery room with my husband, the doctor came into tell us again how successful the surgery was. She also wanted to immediately place the chemotherapy port in my chest while we were at the hospital. So within a few hours, I was back in surgery for the port placement.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
    DeeHenn's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Year 2017: wow. don't want to do this again....Found a new Oncologist with the same group Texas Oncology. She is fabulous. She has read my previous chart and experiences and has adapted side effects drugs for me. This go around is much more manageable than in year 2000. Year 2000:Immediately following the port implant, I was wheeled to the chemotherapy lab for my first treatment. The oncologist did not want to wait. He wanted to attack any cancer cells remaining or floating around with as strong a chemotherapy as I could take. He told me: I am going to try to kill you, then bring you back to life and do it four more times. He said it will be violent and total body chemotherapy. His nurse spent three hours with me during the first session explaining all of the side effects and what I could expect. I am very grateful for her taking the time to explain so much. When the side effects began to hit (and they were more terrible than anyone could have described) I was not completely shocked and scared. Oh, I was in pain and VERY sick...isolated three times for my depleted immune system, and almost died twice from complications of the therapy. But my family was strong and loving and kept me smiling as much as possible.

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  6. 6
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 5 years ago
    DeeHenn's Avatar

    ALL OF THE ABOVE!

    Side Effects

    Year 2017: Well, the side effects are here, but they are more manageable than they were 17 years ago. The support drugs are very specific to my needs, and I knew what was coming so I prepared better. I am not perfect and so my side effects are real. I know now that they do not last forever and I cope. Year 2000: Because I was so young and in really good health prior to the diagnosis and prognosis, my oncologist threw every kind of chemotherapy in the kitchen at me! He added me to a clinical trail as well. My treatments were full body chemo therapy with six varieties of chemo in the bags. I GOT VERY SICK. I had mouth sores, nausea, beyond extreme fatigue, pneumonia, depleted immune system, extremely low blood counts, excessive amounts of weight loss, in and out of hallucinations, depression, anxiety, unconscious coma like symptoms, extreme pain all over my body, severe headaches, extremely sensitive skin, hair loss-every where (I had no hair on my body), debilitating fatigue...chemotherapy for me was horrible. I vowed that if I survived and the cancer came back, that I would NEVER do this again.

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  7. 7
    • DeeHenn
    • Experience with Ductal carcinoma in si...
    about 1 month ago
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    Other Care

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