houston's Journey with Breast Cancer

Survivor: Breast Cancer

Patient Info: Finished active treatment less than 5 years ago, Diagnosed: over 6 years ago, Female, Age: 66

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

    caretaking family, job loss, cancer diagnosis

    Oh No

    Was working full time and had taken short family leave December 2009 to help with my father who was suffering from End Stage Renal Disease. That's when I discovered my Mom had advanced dementia and was unable to care for herself or my sister who has epilepsy. Dad passed away in January 2010 and I became caretaker for mom and sister. I was diagnosed 12/28/2010 with Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Stage IIIc. My Cobra insurance termed January 1st 2011. Whew....What happened?!?... This is not my life.....

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  2. 2
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    The plan was to shrink the breast tumors and the 14 in my lymph nodes (under arm and along my collar bone) before having bilateral mastectomies. The chemo never made me nauseated but did make everything taste like metal for a long time. And of course, there went the hair. (had just splurged on my first perm in 10 years the month before my diagnosis). All those expensive curls were giving up the ghost so I just used Nair and got rid of all of them. Opted for a wig and lots of head coverings. Fell in love with my bald head. No more blow dryer or hot curlers. Completed 12 sessions of 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, Adriamycin.

    Easy to Do: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  3. 3
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Double Mastectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    The whole journey of finding treatment and preparing for surgery and the radiation to follow happened so quickly I just never could stop long enough to think about what was happening to me. Every day was one more step to be completed. The result was I was totally unprepared for how I would feel when the dust settled.

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

    Chemo brain

    Side Effects

    Side effects from the chemo and radiation left me with extreme fatigue, all the time. Chemo brain became the norm and I'm still dealing with it. Forgetting appointments, forgetting meds, forgetting to eat, just sleeping around the clock if I don't get my meds in upon awakening. Feel tired to the bone. The chemo damaged my liver. Doctor wants me to see a liver specialist. My plate is full and I'll have to deal with that later.

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  5. 5
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    External radiation

    Radiation

    Very blessed to have such a great radiation team. Have received mega doses of radiation. Fortunately, my skin began burning to the point of blistering only near the very end of my sessions.

    Painless Experience: Neutral/NA
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Neutral/NA
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  6. 6
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Psychosocial

    Other Care

    I suffered with depression and had been on medications for many years prior to the diagnosis. The depression was very bad when I found I needed to take care of my family members, there were no funds other than my retirement to use for this, and I was unable to return to work. With the cancer diagnosis, I found some relief in caring for my family. No longer being able to care for them 24/7 I finally was able to access outside assistance. I was able to do my treatment with relief, the pressure I had been under had been so tremendous and I had continued to push it to the back of my mind. It didn't occur to me that my life was in danger until my treatments and surgery were finished. When there were no more treatment visits daily and no more supportive medical team helping me with my illness, reality hit. I felt cut loose from everything. Instead of relief, I felt lost and terrified of what would come next. Who was watching for recurrence? How did they know ALL the cancer was gone? How would we monitor me for recurrence so I wouldn't miss important signs that more treatment was needed. Am I considered a survivor now?...and if so why am I still being referred to as having breast cancer? My mind is functioning so poorly and my energy level is at zero so howam I to go back to work. I need income! I am unable to retire without funds to live on! What am I going to do.... Fortunately, I found a wonderful therapist for counseling and weekly visits are helping me deal. I have a lot of healing to do physically (from the cancer and the dangerous drugs used to treat it), mentally (with a brain that cannot seem to hold information for more than a few minutes), emotionally (I find tears rolling down my cheeks at the most inappropriate times) and spiritually. I know God has a plan for me and this happened for a reason. I need to make sense of why I got this disease, how my personal life got so out of my control. I need to understand what the future will look like for me now. Do I have only five more years to live?? What will my family look like at that time? Will my small grandchildren have enough time with me to know how much I love them? Will my mother and sister still be alive? What will their living situation and health be? Will my beloved sons and daughter-in-law be alright in their lives? Is someone going to need me and when I am not there for them. Will everyone know how important they have been in my life and how much love and pride I leave behind for them?

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  7. 7
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Body part/function

    Loss

    I was surprised when I began mourning my breasts. I didn't think it would mean so much as I had wanted a breast reduction for many years. It is a very different feeling when the choice is taken from you. I became very aware of my poor body and felt immense sympathy for my chest as though it was a separate entity from me. I would never have chosen to scar it or leave it with these odd bulges and lumps that prevent clothing from fitting even minimally well. I still feel like I want to say I'm sorry for what has happened to this body part.

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

    psychiatrist, psychologist, nutritionist

    Other Care

    My heart swells with gratitude to God for my blessings.

    0 Comments
  9. 9
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    over 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Other Care

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

    0 Comments
  10. 10
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Oh No

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

    0 Comments
  11. 11
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Psychosocial

    Other Care

    I suffered with depression and had been on medications for many years prior to the diagnosis. The depression was very bad when I found I needed to take care of my family members, there were no funds other than my retirement to use for this, and I was unable to return to work. With the cancer diagnosis, I found some relief in caring for my family. No longer being able to care for them 24/7 I finally was able to access outside assistance. I was able to do my treatment with relief, the pressure I had been under had been so tremendous and I had continued to push it to the back of my mind. It didn't occur to me that my life was now in danger until my treatments and surgery were finished. When there were no more treatment visits daily and no more supportive medical team helping me with my illness, reality hit. I felt cut loose from everything. Instead of relief, I felt afraid and terrified of what would come next. Who was watching for recurrence? How did they know ALL the cancer was gone? How would we monitor me for recurrence so I wouldn't miss important signs that more treatment was needed. Was I considered a survivor now?...and if so why was I still being referred to as having breast cancer? My mind was functioning so poorly and my energy level was at zero so how was I to go back to work. I need income! I am unable to retire without funds to live on! What am I going to do.... Fortunately, I found a wonderful therapist for counseling and weekly visits are helping me deal. I have a lot of healing to do physically (from the cancer and the dangerous drugs used to treat it), mentally, emotionally (I find tears rolling down my cheeks at the most inappropriate times) and spiritually.

    0 Comments
  12. 12
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Celebration

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

    0 Comments
  13. 13
    • houston
    • Experience with Breast Cancer
    about 4 years ago
    houston's Avatar

    Psychosocial

    Other Care

    I suffered with depression and had been on medications for many years prior to the diagnosis. The depression was very bad when I found I needed to take care of my family members, there were no funds other than my retirement to use for this, and I was unable to return to work. With the cancer diagnosis, I found some relief in caring for my family. No longer being able to care for them 24/7 I finally was able to access outside assistance. I was able to do my treatment with relief, the pressure I had been under had been so tremendous and I had continued to push it to the back of my mind. It didn't occur to me that my life was in danger until my treatments and surgery were finished. When there were no more treatment visits daily and no more supportive medical team helping me with my illness, reality hit. I felt cut loose from everything. Instead of relief, I felt lost and terrified of what would come next. Who was watching for recurrence? How did they know ALL the cancer was gone? How would we monitor me for recurrence so I wouldn't miss important signs that more treatment was needed. Am I considered a survivor now?...and if so why am I still being referred to as having breast cancer? My mind is functioning so poorly and my energy level is at zero so howam I to go back to work. I need income! I am unable to retire without funds to live on! What am I going to do.... Fortunately, I found a wonderful therapist for counseling and weekly visits are helping me deal. I have a lot of healing to do physically (from the cancer and the dangerous drugs used to treat it), mentally (with a brain that cannot seem to hold information for more than a few minutes), emotionally (I find tears rolling down my cheeks at the most inappropriate times) and spiritually. I know God has a plan for me and this happened for a reason. I need to make sense of why I got this disease, how my personal life got so out of my control. I need to understand what the future will look like for me now. Do I have only five more years to live?? What will my family look like at that time? Will my small grandchildren have enough time with me to know how much I love them? Will my mother and sister still be alive? What will their living situation and health be? Will my beloved sons and daughter-in-law be alright in their lives? Is someone going to need me and when I am not there for them. Will everyone know how important they have been in my life and how much love and pride I leave behind for them?

    0 Comments