ErinJ's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment more than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 11 years ago, Female, Age: 49, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: Yes

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

    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    I had no breast lump and no (known at the time) history of Breast Cancer, so a large swollen lymphnode under my left arm was treated as Cat Scratch Fever for one month before surgery was done to explore. A node the size of an orange was discovered. Tested postive for Breast Cancer. No primary tumor ever presented in the breast.

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

    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    Shocking diagnosis of cancer at 38 years of age with two young children.

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  3. 3
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Started chemo right way, leaving three positive nodes to ensure that chemo was working. It did. Six rounds of chemo. The first three were a cocktail and the next three were Taxotere. (Still not sure that I spell that correct!) Lost hair and menstural cycle after first round of chemo. Taxotere was the most difficult and the doseage had to be decreased after the first round.

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

    Medicine for low white blood cell count

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    This shot was not fun and my bones ached badly for several days, but then my energy came back up and felt so much better. It was worth it!

    Easy to Do: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  5. 5
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Genetic Testing

    Other Care

    Genetic testing showed I carry the BRCA II gene. Since that time, my two sisters have tested and one was positive. She chose the brave path of a double mastectomy at 33 years old since. My father and his only sibling, a brother, are gene carriers. My two cousins (female) tested with one testin positive. She was in her ealry twenties and is still weighing her options and monitoring her health closely. Both my sister and cousin are active in FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.) The BRCA II gene can be passed from both a mother and father. Children have a 50% chance of inheriting the gene. Your chance of developing BC as a carrier increases to 86%! If you have a family history of cancer, please take action!

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  6. 6
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    This was a difficult surgery. I left the hospital with four drains that had to be emptied several times a day. No lifting for several weeks. Becuase I decided to do reconstruction following my radiation, "spacer" were inserted until the treatment was complete and reconstructive surgery could take place. It was difficult but doable!!

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  7. 7
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Reconstruction

    Decision Point

    While receiving chemotherapy, I began meeting with a breast reconstruction plastic sergeon to consider my options. This was the most difficult time for me, seeing pictures of what my body was going to look like after surgery. It was a shock that I wished I had been better prepared for. I chose to have bilateral latisimus flap reconstruction upon completion of all my treatment. I strongly encourge those facing the decision to explore all options and talk to people about their experiences.

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  8. 8
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    Bring it on! The battle was halfway fought! I received 30 rounds of chemo (5 days a week) taking it on my lunch break from work. There were no side effects except a fatigue that set in gradually over the six weeks.

    Painless Experience: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  9. 9
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Hysterectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Since the BRAC II gene also increases your risk of ovarian cancer, I choose to have a hysterectomy. My ovaries were removed as well. I decided to have the surgeries done at one time to minimize my time away from work and recovery time when I was not able to do everything I wanted to as a mothe of two young children (7 and 3.) At first my surgeons were not thrilled, but they agreed so after the plastic surgeon did his thing, my GYN oncologist came in and did hers. The recovery of this portion was a breeze- maybe because the reconstruction recovery was so distracting!

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  10. 10
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    I finished all my treatments and surgeries in January of 2007, one year after the initial diagnosis. I still see a doctor every six months for monitoring but do not worry it will come back. The first year, every ache and pain caused a red flag of to go up in my brain as I did not want to miss a symptom of a reoccurance. That has diminished over time.

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  11. 11
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Tamoxifen

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Here comes more weight! Was told I would lose the weight when I completed the five year course of the drug but that did not happen. My cancer is hormone recepter postivie so I can not have hormone replacement therapy. I am about 20 pounds heavier than I was at the time of diagnosis, but I will take it to be here and raise my kids and grow old with my husband.

    Easy to Do: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  12. 12
    • ErinJ
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    ErinJ's Avatar

    Breast Reconstruction (Implant)

    Procedure or Surgery

    Once again- no fun but completely doable! I had several follow-up surgeries/tweeks and actually never completed them. Five years later I still need one lifted and nipple (or tatoos) but honestly I got tired of being cut on! . I was looking forward to the benefit of not having to wear a bra, but I still need one. Some day I will go back and finish. For now, my husband and kids are used to mom's body and glad to have me here, regardless of my shape :-)

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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