SusanK's Journey:

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 5 years ago, Female, Age: 66

  1. 1
    • SusanK
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    SusanK's Avatar

    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    I wasn't prepared to sleep in a recliner for nearly a month. Every step I took was a baby step in my recovery but eventualy I began to see progress and feel better. My husband stepped up in ways I never thought possible. If he was squeamish in viewing my scars, emptying drain bulbs, doing his own laundry and vacuuming for the first time in forty years, I never knew it. He was positive and stoic yet sympathetic throughout the process.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  2. 2
    • SusanK
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    SusanK's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Chemotherapy was difficult for me and it seemed to present a plethora of side effects besides the obvious hair loss and fatigue--mouth sores, digestive issues, sleep disorders, allergic reactions, finger and toenail issues. I started keeping a chemo diary from day one so I was able to predict the days in the cycle I would feel well enough to go shopping or lunch with a friend or spend time with my grandchildren. I also learned the doctors have the answers to nearly every side effect I suffered. The nurses in the chemo unit were fabulous about answering my questions and preparing me. This was an emotional roller coaster, though, as I was initially told four threatments every three weeks...and then the devastating news that I would need two more for a total of six. The cumulative effect really took a toll on my body but I knew I had to follow through. Now, four months after the end of treatment, I marvel at how I got through it all and realize I am a strong person and can do it again if necessary.

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • SusanK
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    SusanK's Avatar

    Breast reconstruction--what to do?

    Decision Point

    I talked to over twelve women, half of whom were strangers to me. It is amazing how open you can be with your fellow cancer patients. I didn't know--saline or silicone implants. Tattooing? It sounded horribly painful to me. The women who had saline implants (two) had been unhappy with rippling and one developed a leak and needed replacement. The silicone-implanted women were very positive; two were nurses who had had the procedure over ten years ago without incident. I opted for silicone and am not sorry I did. Just this week I had the tattooing and nipple replacement and aside from the local anesthetic that was administered, I didn't experience any pain, and on one side, I could not even feel the needle. My fears about this last procedure were unfounded and I wish I had talked more openly to someone about it beforehand. Several of the women opted to not have nipple reconstruction; they felt complete without it. My fear was a granddaughter walking into the bathroom or bedroom while I was dressing and she might be shocked to see nothing there but scars. I wanted to avoid that. I also wanted to look in the mirror and feel something about my breasts; the scars, the different (smaller) size of my "new" breasts didn't bother me at all--but even after all the months following surgery and treatment, I would look in the morror and think, "Is that really ME?" The procedure was done just two days ago and of course there is some healing to be done--the sutures, the redness--but now when I look in the mirror (and I don't spend much time doing that), I see real breasts again...and I marvel at the talents of the plastic surgeon who made them for me.

    2 Comments
  4. 4
    • SusanK
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    SusanK's Avatar

    Triple negative breast cancer

    Oh No

    Of all the women I have met and spoken to, only one had triple negative breast cancer. I wish I knew a little more about it, even though I've mined the internet.

    2 Comments