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    Oh No

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    Celebration

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    Decision Point (I decided not to have any radiation this time around. I know that radiation these days carries a smaller risk of a second cancer but after all the lymph nodes in my left arm turned out negative, I felt good that I didn't need radiation. I also didn't wa)

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    Procedure or Surgery (Breast Reconstruction (Flap)): After 8 rounds of chemo, I was on my way to a bilateral mastectomy, a DIEP flap reconstruction, and a full axillary lymph node dissection. The surgery lasted 10 hours. According to all surgeons involved, it went better than expected. 36 Lymph nodes were removed and all tested negative. My new breasts, originally my abdominal fat, were doing great according the plastic surgeons. Breast surgeon explained that no invasive cancer was present but there was some DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ==precancerous tissue) and he was able to remove all of it with clear, wide margins. Recovery has been long, in the 5th week. I can move around easily, but I do tire. I also still have tons of swelling and pressure which is what causes the pain and discomfort. I can't wait until the swelling goes away. I guess for what I underwent in this surgery, I'm okay and fortunately have progressed without setbacks.

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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): I had already experienced chemo as a teenager. Back then there weren't many meds for nausea and vomitting so that is really the only side effect I remember. I had a MOPP ABVD alternating regimen. I had chemo every Friday. MOPP caused immediate vomitting but didn't last, caused some acne, and my appetite increased. ABVD caused terrible nausea and vomitting that lasted all weekend. Amazingly, I did not lose my hair with either cycle. Because I had adriomycin as a kid I couldn't have it as an adult so my breast cancer was treated with Taxotere, Cytoxin, and Taxol. This time around, thanks to all the anti-emedics, I experienced no nausea or vomitting, but I did lose my hair. I also had a lot of GI irregularity which was annoying and sometimes painful. I felt more fatigued with each round and there were a few other minor side effects. What caused the most pain this time was that I had to give myself shots after each round of chemo to boost my white blood cell count. This pain was in my bones (arthritic achiness) and I also felt random sharp pains for the first few days of the shots. I continued working as a teacher but could not wait until the summer break.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Sentinel lymph node biopsy): Since the reconstructive surgeon's schedule did not have an immediate opening, my other doctors explained it would be good to stage everything out starting with a sentinel node biopsy which revealed that 2 of 9 lymph nodes examined were positive with cancer. This informed us that it would be best to start with chemo to stop spreading of the cancer and to also shrink the tumors in my left breast (only one could be felt by the bare hand).