graygoose311's Journey with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer, Ductal

Survivor: Breast Cancer > Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma > Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment more than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 14 years ago, Female, Age: 68, Stage I, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: No, PR Positive: Don't Know

  1. 1
    over 4 years ago
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    Work problems

    Oh No

    As my doctor walked out the door after telling me I needed a follow up on my mammogram, he said "it's probably nothing" but you need to have further testing. I had been my parents' caregiver since Nov 2001 and I was supposed to go back to work in Houston in 2003, but, after having the mammogram and then further testing, it was determined I had breast cancer. I had a biopsy done and it was stated that it was Stage one in the Left breast.

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  2. 2
    over 4 years ago
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    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    After much discussion, I decided to have a lumpectomy as I was still young and the cancer was only a stage one. In fact, the surgeon could not even palpate the lump even though there was something showing up on the mammogram and an ultrasound. The surgeon did the lumpectomy in May and then in June I had an axillary node dissection, 12 nodes were taken but none had cancer. I felt so lucky it was caught early. Now I could continue to care for my parents. By this time of course, I could not return to my regular job in Houston for an airlines. I took another leave of absence for one more year. During this time I had just met a man (I was divorced for 7 years) and was dating him. I had even planned to return to work just before they found cancer. He continued to date me, helped me with my mom who died in July of 2003 just one month after I had the node surgery. She was suffering from Alzheimer's and was in the last stage. My dad had a stroke the week of the World Trade Center and that is what brought me from Houston to Florida in 2001. So you can see I had a lot on my plate and there were days I thought I would scream. I had no day to day help except this man I was dating (we finally married in Dec. 7 2003)!! He stayed with me during all the 35 radiation treatments, 4 chemo treatments, my mom's funeral, my uncle coming to live with my dad and me going bald!

    Went as Expected: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  3. 3
    over 4 years ago
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    Adriamycin and Cytoxin

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Even during all the chemo and radiation treatments I continued to take care of my parents, mow the acre yard, buy groceries, cook, clean, take my parents to their doctors appointments. By this time both of them were in wheelchairs. It was so difficult. Before my mom passed I started my days with her at 6 a.m. and often went to bed after midnight. There was one week where she had to go to the emergency room 3 times and I was up straight for almost 72 hours. I begged the doctor to keep her in the hospital because I was just so tired. He could not as she had no real reason to stay once they got her under control with her breathing and heart problems. I only had nausea one time but the Zofran worked it's magic. I had four chemo treatments and then began radiation treatments. The man I had been dating asked me to marry him so on Dec. 7, 2003 (Pearl Harbor Day) we got married in a ceremony on my Dad's huge porch overlooking the bayou in Shalimar, Fl. That was such a touching and precious time. My dad had practiced walking so he could walk me down the aisle. He did! and cried the whole way. What a bright spot during all this year of 2003

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  4. 4
    over 4 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    I was so lucky! I read so many stories of people who had it so much worse. I was still caring for my dad during this time. Yes, I lost all my hair. My dad said I had a beautifully shaped head. I laughed and thought it was so funny. We had not had the best of relationships, especially when I was growing up. When my mom was still alive I had told her I hoped Dad passed before she did as I did not want to have to care for him. God has a strange and wonderful way of giving us what we need to help us grow. Mom died before Dad. I was learning! One day during the radiation treatments (35 times, 5 days a week for 7 weeks)(about half way through) I was working out the edge of the street doing some yard work. I was bent over pulling some weeds when I heard a voice behind me say "rise and be healed". I stood up to see who was behind me and believe it or not, no one was there. Yet, I had heard the voice very distinctly. I took that as a sign from God that I was healed. I talked this over with many people and my radiation oncologist. All were in agreement that I should finish the radiation. After several agonizing days spent in prayer and crying, I decided to continue the radiation treatments. But, from that day on I was not sick one day and never had to stop doing all that was required of me then.

    Painless Experience: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  5. 5
    over 4 years ago
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    Anemia (low red blood cell counts)

    Side Effects

    During the radiation treatments I did develope anemia but was put on meds to help that. I also developed kidney stones and after that I developed blood clots in my legs. I had a friend take me to the doctor. I could barely walk in even though I was using crutches. He immediately put me in the hospital where I stayed for a few days. It was much needed rest and the nurses on the floor caring for me seemed to sense the struggle I was involved in. They all were so courteous and caring. One night I was praying at the side of my bed and almost passed out. A nurse happened to come into my room to check on my, helped me back to bed and brought me a warm blanket. She sat with me for a few moments until I fell asleep. What a blessing she had been and had ministered to me with love and a warmth that is rare.

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  6. 6
    over 4 years ago
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    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    I finished my last radiation treatment on Dec 23, 2003. It had been a very rough year. The cancer diagnosed in May, surgery in May and June. My mom died in July 2003. But I got married! Yes, even bald headed! Funny how losing my hair meant so little in light of my mom's passing and me getting married. My dad was so happy for me and just knowing I could be cared for when he passed gave him a great sense of peace. It opened lots of doors for us to talk, heal, laugh, cry and rejoice. Again, I felt so blessed and lucky. God was still in control and I was still ok.

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  7. 7
    over 4 years ago
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    Cancer is back/Recurred

    Oh No

    After about 3 years, I began having pain in my left breast. Now it was in the middle of 2006. I went to my oncologist. They ran tests. More tests. More tests. My oncologist just shook his head and said, "I feel as if I am missing something but I just don't know what else to do for the pain in your left breast". They sent me for a bilateral breast MRI. Nothing showed up. No metabolic activity was seen. I had a biopsy. Nothing. I had another biopsy. Still, nothing. I was having pain in the upper portion of the left breast at about 12 o'clock. It started in the nipple and went straight up. My oncologist sent me to a pain manament doctor. Nope, I didn't need any meds for depression. At my marriage in Dec. 2003 I was added to the military treatments facility as my new husband was retired military. I decided after 18 months and 2 trips to the emergency room and still no help that maybe I should begin to look for a second opinion. It just so happened that the oncologist for the Base had just returned from Afghanistan and was willing to talk to me. By this time blisters had erupted on the areola on the top of my left breast and I was still having pain. I persisted. It was not in my head. I was soooooo very frustrated..they just didn't know what else to do. On first examination by the doctor on base she said, "why hasn't this been biopsied". I said, "it has twice" . I proceeded to explain what had gone on for 18 months. Her first statement then was it looks like IBC, inflammatory breast cancer. By this time I thought so too as I had been researching the internet like crazy... talking with any and everyone who might give me some insight or help. I had even been told that it can't be cancer as breast cancer doesn't cause pain. But, thankfully after another biopsy and another breast sonogram/mammogram, it was determined that indeed it was cancer. Because I had had a lumpectomy in 2003 and radiation, I now could only have chemo.

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  8. 8
    over 4 years ago
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    Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Before the surgery and before the oncologist could do anything else I was sent to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Ms for the BRCA testing/genetics. It was determined that I was not a candidate as I had no family history of breast cancer. Even though this was my second time. I was sent to the surgeon at Keesler as the plastic surgeon at Eglin AFB was still in Afganhistan. It was all set up there to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. However, on a Friday night while I was in Baltimore seeing my daughter, the surgeon from Keesler called and said that a piece of the microscope needed to perform the surgery with was still on back order due to Hurricane Katrina and they were not sure when it might come in. So rather than keeping me waiting, they suggested I find another surgeon to do the surgery to prevent prolonging care. The second diagnosis was Her 2 + but ER 2 -. I returned to Eglin. Two more weeks passed. I finally opted to have just the mastectomy on the left breast. Since then so much else happened. By this time my dad had passed, my uncle had passed and I was facing more chemo.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  9. 9
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    After the second round of chemo, which was Cytoxan and Taxotere, I was a basket case. I sat in my recliner at home for about 30 days. I was so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. When my dad passed it seemed as if everything fell apart. The whole family was and is still upset that my dad left everything to me. The problems began long before I got sick, before my dad had his stroke, even before my mom got to sick. Famly dynamics really show up during a death. This was harder on me than the chemo and radiation. Harder than any of the surgeries up to this point. Wow! had God brought me this far just to face a separation of siblings and other relatives? Here is when I really began to define battle lines. Realize what I could mangage, what I couldn't and what didn't matter I had to realize me strengths and weaknesses and move forward

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  10. 10
    over 4 years ago
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    Breast Reconstruction (Implant)

    Procedure or Surgery

    The first step I wanted to try was the tissue expander. I had never felt such horrible pain from any of the 3 -sections or other eight to ten surgeries I had previously. But I persevered. After tissue expander was removed and the implant put in place I had now to heal. One morning after I got up, I felt something cold running down my left arm and I thought, I just sneezed but surely not that hard! I looked down and I was bleeding from the left breast where the implant was. My husband rushed me to the hospital emergency room. The doctors there could not believe it. They called my surgeon. He was not believing it either. He asked the doctors in ER to take a picture with their cell phone and send it to him. When he saw it he was speechless. He stated that in his 20 years of surgery he had never seen a a two month old incision that was completely healed, open up like this picture he was viewing. I don't remember if my surgeon came and put temporary stitches in but I think he had me come to his office in a couple of days as this incident happened over the weekend. Anyway we tried for 2 more weeks after he put in some stitches to keep the implant. On my next visit the surgeon said I am so sorry but the implant is just not going to stay. He removed it. I cried. This meant either live with a prosthetic breast the rest of my life or have more surgery. What to do? well just about the time we got everything scheduled to do a flap surgery, my husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Sadly or maybe gladly, my surgery got postponed. We opted to go to Atlanta for 7 weeks for him to get treated. He survived just fine and we came home. That was in Dec of 2009. I Jan of 20I0 I had reconstructive surgery. Because I am diabetic, the surgeon did a "Free Flap". This is where he takes just tissue and some blood vessels/veins from my abdomen on the right side and cuts it away completely then places it on the left beast XXX to make a new breast. This went quite well and was minimally painful. I began having bad pain though on my right abdomen where he had removed the tissue. It was determined to be a hernia with 4 seromas behind it that my body was not absorbing for what ever reason. More surgery. It was fixed. That year we bought an RV and took a 2000 mile, 6 week trip around the US. The next year 2011 my husband began having what we thought were mini TIA's. A CT scan showed actually he was having small seizures. They put him on meds for that but a few days later it was determined there was something else they were seeing. We went to an ENT specialist. The verdict, my husband had throat and neck cancer. In Birmingham they performed surgery. He had chemo and 35 radiation treatments. In Jun of this year I had to have more surgery for another hernia, this time an inguinal hernia. Some of the other mesh that had been used had curled up, some of my intestines were caught up in it. The surgeon removed the curled edge, repaired the hernia and seated it onto my pubic bone. I am doing fine. My husband is doing well, still has a ways to go but, we both feel so very blessed to be alive and doing so well. He is 83 and I am 63. We have persevered and God been faithful to undergerd every step of this 9 year journey. Yes, my siblings and other family members are still estranged but look what we have been through. There is still hope. There will always be hope even if you don't feel or think it is there.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  11. 11
    over 4 years ago
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    Anniversary

    Celebration

    I am coming up on my five year in remission. My husband is well, still has a few more hurdles but doing good. I rejoice and celebrate every breath I take, every raindrop I feel, every warm sun on my cheek, every wave that laps my feet. It is a very personl journey with many long and weary days. But there are so many wonderful nurses, doctors, janitors, angels, just common folk, every day people that are put in one's path to help guide us along on the journey wether they realize it or not. Some kind word, some warm blanket. Some raindrop or snowflake. All to minister and remind us of God's perfect love that casts out all fear, doubt and loneliness. Someone cares. Someone reachs out. Someone to just listen. It is enough.

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