Yallpaint'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: 58, Stage IIIA, HER2 Positive: Yes, ER Positive: Yes, PR Positive: No

  1. 1
    over 4 years ago
    Yallpaint's Avatar

    Lump under my arm

    Oh No

    In September I found a lump under my arm. Had a routine mammogram in October and they said everything was fine. I said "what about this lump?" So they did an ultrasound. In late November they tell me I need a needle biopsy. This got me worried!

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  2. 2
    over 4 years ago
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    Diagnosed

    Oh No

    The doctor called with the bad news of breast cancer found in the lymph nodes. Since the mammogram 2 months earlier was clean they scheduled me for an MRI. MRI showed a 2.8 cm tumor. Then scheduled for surgery

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  3. 3
    over 4 years ago
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    Lumpectomy

    Procedure or Surgery

    Really not all that painful since there are no muscles and you don't really move that part of you. The hardest part is the worry about what it means. Long term - there is very little impact on how I look or feel

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  4. 4
    over 4 years ago
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    Axillary Lymph Node Dissection

    Procedure or Surgery

    Bad news. 4/14 lymph nodes affected. Next is PET scan to see if it has gone further. This is hard to recover from because the drainage system to your arm is forever diminished. Hurts for a long time and you must always (and I mean forever) stretch your arm to prevent frozen shoulder. Make sure they send you to physical therapy! It's mostly just irritating not dibilitating. Reminds you that you aren't the same as you were.

    Went as Expected: Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  5. 5
    over 4 years ago
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    Problem with doctor

    Oh No

    the first oncologist to discuss the pathology of the cancer spoke in very technical terms. It was very overwhelming and all I heard was "it's very aggressive, more aggressive because on the HER2+, and we have to do a PET scan to see if it has spread and is incurable". She didn't really answer my questions in a way I could understand. I left feeling devastated. I changed doctors after that and never had this issue again.

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  6. 6
    over 4 years ago
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    PET scan

    Procedure or Surgery

    Mentally overwhelming because I was so afraid of what they would find. Was also hard to lift my hands above my head because of having surgery just 10 days earlier. But.... cancer had not spread beyond the breast and few lymph nodes so Great News! I thought it was strange to be so happy to hear I only had cancer in a few spots.

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  7. 7
    over 4 years ago
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    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    Margins weren't clean so had to go back to take a bit more. Were clean after that

    Went as Expected: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Recovery: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  8. 8
    over 4 years ago
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    Surgery

    Procedure or Surgery

    Surgery to put in a port. Being a thin person this stuck out like a huge bump on my chest. It hurt (like a bruise) the entire time I had it. It worked for about a month and would only work for infusion but could not draw blood. Had to get and ultrasound on it and it was located at the turn in my artery which is not right. The tube that goes over your collar bone has left a tube-shaped lump under the skin on my neck. (It's been gone over 2 years) It is starting to fade away. Have a indentation where the port used to be. Hurt like a *&%& to have removed.

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

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Was terrified to start chemo. Was relieved to find out it didn't hurt. I thought it was funny that they give everyone benedryl first, so we are all half asleep the whole time. Sometimes I wondered if that was for the patient's benefit or the nurse's benefit. I was very fortunate in that I breezed through chemo. Never nauseaous, never threw up. I felt run-down and "off" but not sick. I asked the doctor if that meant it wasn't working. Everyone else I saw looked so sick. He said it was fine and it depended how healthy you were to start with. It still messes with your head. I would sit at chemo listening to music and think of how my funeral should go. One day I realized that the medicine is going to do its work and the battle is in my head. So I started to think more positively and that helped a lot.

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  10. 10
    over 4 years ago
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    Hair loss (alopecia)

    Side Effects

    about 10 days after the first chemo my hair began to fall out. It was horrible. The worst thing of all. I finally had my daughter shave it all off. Strangely this helped by giving me control over a terrible thing. I learned that the way to not feel like a victim is to have some control. (I was a cancer hostage, not a victim). Fortunately, I ordered a good wig before I even started chemo. It was the same style and color as my real hair so only those close to me even noticed. And it is so easy to get ready in the morning. As it progresses all of your hair falls out. Bonus is you don't have to shave anything anymore. Bad part is your nose runs all the time and you get rain in your eyes. I didn't like having no eyebrows or eyelashes because these really add life to your face.

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  11. 11
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    After 8 weeks they change to a less violent type of chemo and start the herceptin for the HER2. I felt tons better. Like only felt sick for 2 out of 7 days instead of 7 out of 14 days.

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Disagree
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  12. 12
    over 4 years ago
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    Insomnia

    Side Effects

    Incredible insomnia. Would maybe sleep an hour or so the night after treatment and didn't feel tired the next day. They finally gave me lorazapam to help me sleep. Works great but is addictive.

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  13. 13
    over 4 years ago
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    External radiation

    Radiation

    Radiation every day for 6 1/2 weeks. A little annoying from a scheduling point of view, but painless to have it done. However, it's like a sunburn on top of sunburn on top of sunburn. A few spots blistered and bled. Still I fared better than many, so I've heard.

    Painless Experience: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Agree
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  14. 14
    over 4 years ago
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    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    Finished radiation. Cried (sobbed) all the way home. When I got home my 19 year old son gave me a hug and asked "aren't you happy?" I laughed and said yes, but it was so hard. They had flowers and a card for me. It was great.

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  15. 15
    over 4 years ago
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    Chemotherapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Herceptin (for the HER2) continues for 7 more months. Other than insomnia there are no side effects. At this point I find getting the treatments to be comforting and reassuring. Surprised me to feel that way.

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Agree
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  16. 16
    over 4 years ago
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    Hormone therapy

    Drug or Chemo Therapy

    Femara! Despite the doctor saying it doesn't cause any problems it does. My fingers get stuck in a bent position, I can't even grip a door knob sometimes. I feel like an old woman

    Easy to Do: Strongly Agree
    Minimal Side Effects: Strongly Disagree
    Minimal Impact to Daily Life: Strongly Disagree
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  17. 17
    over 4 years ago
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    Naturopath Oncologist and Physical Therapy

    Other Care

    Physical therapy for the arm. Helps with the side effects of radiation and the lymphectory. Naturopathy oncologist is wonderful. Started me on several vitamins that help with the femara side effects, energy levels, insomnia, and overall health. It made me feel like I have some control again. If you do one thing for yourself go to a naturopath oncologist in addition to your regular oncologist. They are a blessing

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  18. 18
    about 4 years ago
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    Anniversary

    Celebration

    Three years ago today I was diagnosed with cancer. It was a terrible, life-altering moment. The mammogram was normal. Had I not insisted they look further at what I felt it may not have been discovered until it was too late. Happy to say I'm still here and NEC. I figure from here out every day is a bonus

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  19. 19
    over 4 years ago
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    Finished treatment

    Celebration

    Chemo is done (well the hard stuff anyway). Thought I would feel instantly better, but it takes quite a while.

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