cathieb's Journey:

Survivor: Breast Cancer > Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 8 years ago, Female, Age: 63, Stage IIIB, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: Yes

  1. 1
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    I was originally diagnosed with infiltrating ductile carcinoma in 2001, underwent lumpectomy surgery and alternative treatments and thought I was clear, but in 2003 it was "still there," so I had a mastectomy and my nodes were clear, so I continued my immune boosting efforts, had regular checkups and again thought I was doing well. I had regular check ups with my surgeon and mammograms on my remaining breast. Then in fall of 2008, after my first really "normal" mammogram in 7 years, my surgeon found an enlarged node under my arm during a routine check up. Two months later when he finally decided to surgically biopsy it, (needle biopsy had failed to find anything...it was Christmas...yada yada) it and the ones near it were found to be cancerous. I was plunged into despair, but thankfully was not allowed to wallow there. My family, friends encouraged and my Great God pulled me out of the depths and we went to work to fight the cancer. When I had my mastectomy the tumor was found to be 6 cm which means it had been growing there for 6 years undetected by mammograms. What my surgeon thought were just my cystic breast ended up being stage IIIB cancer. I am still here and thankful for every day!

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  2. 2
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    This was my 2nd mastectomy. My first had gone excellently with a limited axillary node dissection, and easy recovery. I sang at our Christmas Eve service 2 days later and felt great. I had done quite a bit of healthy immune building prior to surgery, which I did again prior to my 2nd mastectomy. This time, because we knew the cancer was in the nodes, I had a full axillary node dissection. I ended up with a huge seroma on my chest, I think due to insufficient compression and drainage following surgery. It had to be drained multiple times (300 cc one time) and was painful. I also now have chest wall lymphadema, which is mild, so it doesn't interfere with my daily activities but is occasionally painful and requires constant monitoring and compression therapy to keep it mild. I also had a recurrence of the cancer in the scar on my left side, so I woke up with both sides of my chest bandaged. My surgeon had not warned me he was going to biopsy the other side. Thankfully he did, but it was a shock at first.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    by the grace of God, and because I was very healthy going into chemo and did as much as I could to keep myself healthy - supplements, healthy smoothies, good nutrition, limited exercise, good social networks - my chemo experience was not as horrible as I expected. I only experienced headaches and a nausea after the first treatment, but immediately was able to treat those with appropriate meds so recovered quickly. I hated losing my hair. That was the worst and felt like I looked like a concentration camp inmate, so I bought a good wig and tried to "look good - feel good." I attended the ACS class which helped me learn to apply the make up and I did well. I had great support from friends who went to me sessions with me. I experience only other minimal side effects, including "chemo brain" a really fuzzy dazed feeling a couple days following chemo, but other than that I hardly skipped a beat. I even lead our church's VBS during chemo, leading the singing on the same day as one of my treatments! Our church doc asked if they were putting "Speed" in my chemo, and I told him it was the Holy Spirit!

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  4. 4
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    I hated hated hated radiation!! It was so impersonal and dehumanizing. I felt as if I were a specimen on the table. Also the position I had to be in for long periods so both sides of my chest/nodes could be radiated was extremely uncomfortable and even excruciating at times. The burns were massive and painful and the cream extremely messy. I really struggled through it emotionally, however, physically, because I was healthy and kept up a healthy regimen of approved supplements (including Juice Plus) and nutrition, I did not experience any other side effects such as fatigue.

    Painless Experience: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  5. 5
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    Relationship issues

    Oh No

    My relationship issues were completely unrelated to my cancer. My husband was being dishonest about our finances and I found out we were massively in debt. Thankfully we are retired navy so my treatment was paid for, but because the disclosure of this long term dishonesty was during my treatment, I did not have full support of my husband. This was so difficult, but thankfully many friends came along side. My dad helped me buy a good wig and my Savior and God kept me moving forward. Praise God all that is behind me now. My husband finally confessed and repented, we are eradicating our debt and are joyfully celebrating 36 years of marriage this December.

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  6. 6
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine)

    Other Care

    All throughout my cancer history I have used CAM. Although these therapies were not able to rid me of cancer, (which I believe was related to hormonal issues) I do know they kept me strong and healthy. I did not do any weird stuff. ;-) I did have IV immune boosting therapies and went to NV and PA for that. I even tried low dose insulin boosted chemotherapy before my first mastectomy. It did not work for me, but I think that was because of the schedule of the treatments. Don't ignore your immune system! Even the traditional docs are saying that the best defense against cancer is a healthy immune system, but once you have cancer don't ignore traditional methods either.

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  7. 7
    • cathieb
    • Experience with Invasive Lobular Carci...
    over 4 years ago
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    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    On my last day of chemo, I was presented a certificate and the whole staff sang "Hit the road Jack and don't you come back no more." We celebrated with an edible fruit arrangement and homemade brownies for the staff. I really have to thank the staff at Bethesda Naval Hospital for making my experience the best it could be.

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