sandyhamrick's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Living with cancer as a chronic illness (undergoing adjuvant therapy), Diagnosed: over 23 years ago, Female, Age: 71, Stage Recurrent, HER2 Positive: Yes, ER Positive: Don't Know, PR Positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    about 5 years ago
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    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    1994 right breast - found suspicious area by mammogram. A lumpectomy confirmed ductal carcisoma in situ. I was 48 years old. I was very surprised; the doctor did not call me for about 3 or 4 days, so I was thinking I was ok at first. The margins were checked for clear. I did decide to go ahead and have radiation at that time, and then I was placed on tamoxifin. I only took it for a year though. My legs were so ache. I did wonderful for 10 years. In 2004, the cancer returned in my right breast. I had red splotches all over the outside of my right breast, which were biopsied and found to be cancer. Inside my breast was found to be cancerous also. It seemed like such a long time to get all the information together, before we could begin treatment. "Shock and Awe" was how I felt, but also my daughters were trembling for me also. In 2004 - diagnoised with Stage 4, metastic, right breast cancer. (It returned from 1994 to 2004 , with a vengenance,). That was 2nd time for me. But, I have had a 3rd recurrence, and a 4th recurrence in the last 4 years .

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  2. 2
    about 5 years ago
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    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    In 1994, I had a right breast lumpectomy. (that procedure went well) In 2005, I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction surgery. Also, had about 8 to 10 auxilliary nodes removed on the right side. I had a awesome surgical oncologist, and plastic surgeon who performed the surgeries. It took about 6 or 7 hours to do all the surgery. I was in the hospital about 5 days and when I went home, I had several caretakers helping me for about an additional 2 weeks. Drainage tubes, baths, change of clothing, getting out of bed. Recovery was very painful. My front side and my back were both cut. That is the way that he reconstruction surgery was done. Moving tissues, skin, etc around to the front. Within 4 to 6 weeks, I began to feel stronger and could manage a shower by myself, but still had to have help dressing. The reconstruction surgery was done in about 3 phases It was the end of that year before all the work was completed. I am very pleased with the work of both the surgical oncologist and the plastic surgery. When I was asked about my perspective on "Went as Expected."; "Minimal Recovery"; "Side Effects" and "Impact on Daily Life"; I don't think that anyone could answere those questions. Even with the doctors, nurses educatating you about the procedures and all the research a person does. Until you live it, you just don't know. I am thankful that is all behind me. The pain medicines kept me reasonably comfortable and "numb" for many months. About the time I begin to feel somewhat better, another area of cancer cells were found on the right breast area. You would think that taking both breast off, would reduce cancer from reappearing? It was early 2007 I believe. But my cancer had continued to metasized and in just a small area was found. I was very fortunate that my great doctors were looking after me. It was a minimal surgery this time. (That was the third time) Fourth time, 2009, petscan showed some activity in the left lympnodes. LEFT SIDE, not the original Right side!! At first, I was given an oral chemotherapy for about 3 months to see if it could shrink that area. By October 2009, a left lymphnodectomy was performed by my wonderful surgical oncologist, once again. He removed about 20 lymph nodes and three were found to be cancererous. After 8 weeks recovery, I began radiation treatment on the left side under my arm and side of breast area. I think it was about 25 treatments.It was during the holidays that year. Radiation would have gone very well for me, except, I fell and shattered my right shoulder in several places. I had to have a caretaker to assist me in dressing, baths, transportation to and from treatment. At that point, I was "wore down with pain" from the cancer, from the treatment, from the broken bones. I was once again, thankful for my family and friends who helped me make it through this period of time.

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    about 5 years ago
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    Decision Point

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  4. 4
    about 5 years ago
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    Other Care

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  5. 5
    about 5 years ago
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    Loss

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  6. 6
    about 5 years ago
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    Remission

    Celebration

    This person has yet to add any details about this experience.

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  7. 7
    about 5 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    1994 - I had radiation treatment on the right breast. The treatment went well. I was employed at the time at Emory University, Atlanta, Ga and after my treatments, I would walk to my office and work about 7 hours. Following the treatment, I took Tamoxifin for about a year. My legs really ached and the doctor said it was ok for me to go off. My cancer had been carcionoma in-situ, and it wasn't critical to have or not have radiation and it was not critical to take the drug. Again, this was 1994 and so many, many discoveries since that time. I do not regret having the radiation or taking the Tamoxifin. Maybe, a curiosity about that drug, would my cancer had returned 10 years later, if i had taken Tamoxific for 5 years, vs. one year. In 2004, when the cancer returned, my whole life was turned upside down. Biopsies, Ultrasounds, MRI's, finding a Medical Oncologist and confirming with Surgical Oncologist and Plastic Surgeon about surgery options. I was treated at the Winship Cancer Center at Emory (which is where I was working); The Medical Oncologist met with me very quickly, where many more tests were performed to determine the kind of cancer, the size, estrogen related, etc. Within a couple of weeks, I began my chemotherapy. The treatment was once every three weeks for 4 treatments; and then another kind of chemo, was once every other week for 4 treatments, I lost my hair on my head, and other parts of my body too. Side effects for me, was severe vertigo, and the dizziness, throwing up that goes along with the vertigo. I was given medicine to counteract those symptoms and also was on valium during that time to try to keep me calm. Chemotherapy lasted about 3 1/2 months and was followed by Double Mastectomies and Reconstruction Surgery. At the end of 2005, I was placed on Aromasin (oral chemo) and was to be on it for 5 years. But 18 months later, my cancer returned on the right breast, and after surgery, I was placed on another oral chemo, called Armistead and the plan was to be on that for additional 5 years. Again, about 18 months later, cancer returned in my left lymphnodes. So I had to stop taking that drug also, I was tried on another oral chemo for 3 months to determine if it would shrink the cancer. I'm sorry I can not think of the nameof the drug. It did not help and so therefore, a left lymphnodectomy was performed in October 2009. During that time frame, I just did not feel good, or have good energy, or good balance, and fell several times and shattered right shoulder on one fall. That was a month after the surgery, so I was handicapped in my left arm from the lymphnodectomy and in my right shoulder from the falls. July 2004 through Summer of 2010, I really was handicapped. It has taken me two years to build back up strength, stamina, energy, mentally, emotionally and physically. I was frightened to go anywhere, afraid I would fall again. Going back to my treatment in 2009 and 2010, I did have radiation treatment under my left arm area and breast area (25 treatments).

    Easy to Do: Not Specified
    Minimal Side Effects: Not Specified
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Not Specified
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