Laurie's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: about 7 years ago, Female, Age: 60, Stage I, HER2 Positive: No, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: No

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

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    In 2001, no doctors listened to me when I said not to use narcotics. They make be bipolar. But the did anyway. Like to near have killed me from major depression. Even when I found out they DID give me narcotics each time (2 surgeries), they still didn't listen even when I said I couldn't live this way any more! It was totally up to me to get any help. Long story with lots of continuing issues, but it took about 5 years to get back on track. In 2001, I never felt part of a team or that any of them cared particularly about me, personally, other than "here's a body part to work on". Also, hospital I went to didn't believe in local anethesia for the needle location pre-op. Holy XXX does that hurt when they are moving the hook of the needle around in your chest muscle.

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

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Couldn't raise my arm for weeks. Leaves permament "dent" in area done.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • Laurie
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Laurie's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    I swelled up after first treatment! I started burning early in the process. Trying to wear a bra was really uncomfortable and couldn't really keep it in place if I tried to wear something under it to protect burned areas. Doctors didn't talk to each other. Surgeon started me on tamoxifen before radiation. Rad Dr said was bad thing to do because increased burning.

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

    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    2007 whole new set of doctors. Better explained. Not only no narcotics, but they allowed me to do lumpectomy with only local (no valium or anesthetic), which I had begged for in 2001, but wasn't allowed to do. Way Way Way better! And this hospital DOES use local anesth. for needle location. Sigh of relief. :)

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
    0 Comments
  5. 5
    • Laurie
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Laurie's Avatar

    reconstruction or not

    Decision Point

    No one really had pictures to show me. I found them on-line. At first, I had decided no reconstruction, I would just be flat, but then I saw some pictures of other fat ladies and decided maybe that wasn't such a good idea. My kind of fat is all frontal abdomen, so I look pregnant most of the time and with no boobs..........At no point did I ever want prosthesises (sp?). #1, I was soooooo looking forward to not needing a bra. #2, I remember Linda Ellerbee's story about chasing her dog down the street with her prosthesis in it's mouth and I have pets. #4, I had visions of being bumped/ pushed at work (animals) and having the boobs pushed out of place or fall out in front of clients. I looked at tram flaps, but didn't like the scars (and my doc said I wasn't a good candidate anyway---basically too fat for). Also, recovery from tram, latissimus dorsi flaps was way too long for me. So decided on reconstruction/ implants at time of mastectomy.

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

    Sentinel lymph node biopsy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Boy, you really have to watch those doctors. My good doc from 2007 moved. New doc. Repeatedly, I told everyone I would only do sentinel lymph node biopsy and that if positive, I'd go to chemo and NOT do axillary dissection. Axillary dissection would permanently change my life, as I work with animals and get routinely scratched and occasionally bitten and did NOT want to deal with lymphedema, etc. The surgical consent form only stated mastectomy and SNL. Post-op, the doc came in and told me the biopsy was neg. Instantly, my blood froze. I asked how she knew already (I basically knew, I just wanted to hear it from her), and she said there was a frozen section during surgery. I said why, when they aren't as accurate as regular style. "Oh that's so if it was positive, we could've done axillary dissection." Whoa, I told you (and anyone who would listen) that that was NOT going to happen. "Well, we know what's best for you." No, you don't. It's MY decision. If you don't want to abide by it, then tell me to get another doctor, don't do it behind my back. Haven't spoken to her since. She just doesn't get it. And, within 1 month, several studies came out that said I was right---there was no benefit to axillary dissection if you were going to chemo and it just caused more problems.

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

    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    I did NOT expect it to be so painful. Given that I really am not one to pay that much attention to how I look, I was a little surprised by how much it bothered me (and still does) to see the scars, etc. I couldn't raise arms up for weeks. Couldn't get the XXX drains out for 5 weeks. Was out of work much longer than expected. I still feel very tight all the time around the chest and under armpits. Also wasn't expecting to have such a dent above the breast area. Sure, implants are there, but it really looks funny and makes it next to impossible to wear low cut, even V neck shirts because of the denting. And, just FYI. I'm not a wuss, I have NEVER had such pain as this, and I've had fractures, bite injuries, lacerations, etc. I had an endoscopic/ vaginal hysterectomy and ovaries removed and THAT was a piece of cake!

    Went as Expected: Disagree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
    0 Comments
  8. 8
    • Laurie
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Laurie's Avatar

    Breast Reconstruction (Implant)

    Procedure or Surgery

    The expanders are NOT comfortable. The "pump up" shots of saline are not comfortable (not the injection itself, but it would invariably cause muscle spasms in my shoulders and back from the stretching), but it only lasts a couple hours and massage helps. I didn't realize I would be going to a doctor appt weekly for the pump up shots. Wouldn't have been such a pain, but I live an hour's drive away. The change to silicone ones wasn't bad. But, I still have never been comfortable completely. One failed. Between work and other things going on, I haven't been able to do the lat dorsi flap to redo it. So, the one thing I didn't want was to be a "uni-boob" with just one, and that's what I've got. 2 1/2 years out and still messing around with it. Bah humbug. It's hard to move on when you're still involved in the process!

    Went as Expected: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Recovery: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
    0 Comments
  9. 9
    • Laurie
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    Laurie's Avatar

    Body part/function

    Loss

    I wanted to be smaller (I said I wanted bosoms, not bazooms), but I really don't like being flatter than my abdomen. Even my plastic guy said he thought I could go bigger. Um, no I can't. You told me these were the biggest ones they made. When I was so thin people accused me of being anorectic, i still had bigger boobs. Just one more thing wrong with my body.

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