DSFranco's Journey with Breast Cancer

Patient: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 6 years ago, Female, Age: 64, Stage II, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: No

  1. 1
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    Had a mammogram in September 2010, so I had no expectation of cancer when I felt pain in my left breast in April 2011. My doctor sent me for a chest Xray, an EKG and when neither of those exams indicated a problem, she sent me for a sonogram of the breast. When I had the sonogram, the radiologist determined that I needed 2 biopsies. They were done immediately and a week later, I was told I had breast cancer.

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  2. 2
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
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    Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    The mastectomy went as well as could be expected. I developed an infection in the surgery site, due to the expander that was inserted at the time of surgery for the future reconstruction. The infection lasted 6 weeks. During this time, I had to administer antibiotic IVs twice a day, with the supervision of a nurse that came to my house twice a week to check my port and replenish supplies. This disrupted my already difficult situation, as I had a longer recovery than expected, and was away from work longer than anticipated.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    The first treatment was a breeze. I knew I could do the other 5 without a problem. WRONG! Each of the subsequent 5 treatments brought with it different side effects, even though the treatment was the same. I had bouts of diarrhea twice - uncontrollable bouts that would surprise me at the most inopportune times. My joints and bones ached so much, I could hardly move. Thank God, I didn't have vomiting, but did feel weak and helpless much of the time. Treatment #5 resulted in pneumonia, which really surprised me. I had trouble sleeping, and then once I fell asleep, I had trouble waking up and staying alert throughout the day. I didn't like the smell or taste of foods, and wanted to eat pasta with pesto sauce all the time. The look, smell and taste of chicken was totally impossible for me to eat it.

    Easy to Do: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  4. 4
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    The was the easiest part of the treatment. My daily visits to the radiation center went well. It wasn't until the very end when I actually felt my skin was "toasted" by the radiation. It was like the worst sunburn imaginable. I used Aquafor several times daily during the treatments, and I believe that if I had not done that, the end results would have been very different. I had some blistering and one area that had been radiated looked like raw meat when I was done with the treatment. It took about 4 weeks to get this under control. I still have a "sun tan" in the area.

    Painless Experience: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  5. 5
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    DSFranco's Avatar

    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    My next door neighbor and I completed our radiation at the same time, around the beginning of March 2012. In April, we decided to throw a celebration party and invited friends and neighbors to share our joy and journey! It was really nice because it was something that we went through together and it meant a lot to us that we got through it and are happy and healthy today!

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  6. 6
    • DSFranco
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 5 years ago
    DSFranco's Avatar

    Husband and daughters

    Other Care

    Without the love and care of my wonderful husband, this would have been a very difficult journey. He did everything for me that needed to be done immediately after the surgery. He took me to every appointment, and made sure I had all the care I needed, as well as emotional support. My daughters were also very supportive and assisted with things I needed on a daily basis. The love and support of friends, sending letters, calling me and offering to cook meals and give me special massages, was a tremendous help! I am grateful that I never felt alone during my journey!

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