Breast Cancer Videos - Marnie C



Watch as Marnie C takes us through her journey with breast cancer.

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Video Transcription

Dealing with Anxiety

I did have a lot of anxiety at the outset of all of this, because as I mentioned before I had lost my mother and my grandmother to breast cancer, but this was an enemy I knew, I had fifty books at my disposal, I’d been doing a lot of research for my mother because she had been diagnosed with breast cancer that had mestastisized, only eight years prior to my diagnosis, so I had a lot of information on hand. I was trying to help her get through it as well.

Change in Appetite

I expected to lose my appetite when I was going through chemotherapy. I expected to be extremely ill. But as I said, I was busy detoxing through the whole thing. I never threw up once. In fact, I had a ravenous appetite. People couldn't believe it. I would wake up in the middle of the night and be so hungry and have to go eat half a banana or something, just to make it through until breakfast the next day. I did have green moments moments when I thought, ew, not feeling so good here, but I’d just sit down and do something creative, and that got me through it very nicely. Appetite comes and goes. I noticed that on the days of the infusion I had to eat kind of lightly. but as I said, I never- I never threw up once. The antiemetic drugs they gave me were extremely efficient and worked very well. I think because I was doing all that detoxing at the same time, I was extremely well through the whole procedure.

Coping with Change

My suggestion for coping with all of the changes that cancer can bring to us is to learn meditation. It is the single thing that made the biggest difference to me. Let's face it, life is stressful enough, and all you got to do is add in a cancer diagnosis, and your stress can go right off the charts. As a cancer patient, that's the last thing your immune system needs, is more stress. I highly recommend that you learn how to meditate. Find a class, learn how to do it. There's some great things online that will teach you meditation. I'm just about to release a series of meditation downloads from my website that you can use as resources. If you can step away from stress for half an hour at a time and quiet your mind and body, it is a really healing thing to do.

Diagnosis

My diagnosis was invasive ductal carcinoma, stage 2a. I had an olive-sized lump, and that surprised all of us, really. I had a lumpectomy in April of 2004, plus the sentinel node biopsy. I had no lymph node involvement, so the cancer hadn’t spread. I felt really good about that. The tumor they removed was 25 millimeters, and my surgeon was pretty certain that he got it all. He felt really confident about it, and that made us feel really good. A few days later on I met with him, and he was discussing the pathology report, and he told me that I was cancer-free, and that was a huge relief.

Fear of Cancer

For people who are fearful of cancer, I always say, "You know what, my cancer was a gift." It's a sign of many imbalances in your life, and now is the time to address those imbalances. Find out what you want and need in your life and find some balance, physically, mentally, emotionally. There are many things you can do to heal yourself from cancer and now is a good time to make that start, and don't be afraid.

Gifts for Cancer Patients

The best gift that I received from a friend was just the gift of spending time with him. People often mistake cancer for being a contagious cold or something and they stay away. They don't know how to cope. They don't know how to help, but my suggestion is, if you know someone that has cancer, just spend time with them. Take them a pot of soup. Hold their hand. Make them laugh. That's the best thing that you could do. That was the gift that I received. It was awesome. There's just nothing better than spending time with somebody. You don't have to spend hours there, just let them know that you love them, and you're there for them and take them a big pot of soup, because that's about the last thing you feel like doing when you've got cancer, is cooking.

Place of Care

I was living in Perth, Australia at the time I was going through all of this. My husband and my son had moved there quite a number of years ago, and I was treated at a nice little hospital called Joondalap. My doctors were excellent. I did have one encounter with a chemotherapy nurse who we called "Attila the Hun”. She was a real piece of work: cranky and mean and just not a good thing for cancer patients at all. I even called her once after an infusion and told her the effect she was having on people. It wasn't a nice thing to have happen at all. But, as a general rule, I'm sure that most chemo nurses are absolutely wonderful people. That's what I've been told.

Quotes

One thing that really helped me through this whole process was to read books that were inspirational. Dr. Bernie Siegel is a wonderful man, and his book Love, Medicine and Miracles made a big difference to me. Also, anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer, he is amazing. He writes with such heart and soul. But the one quote that really stuck with me, and I put on my bulletin board and read it every day, was by Winston Churchill. He said: If you're going through hell, keep going. That to me was very powerful. Another one that I really liked, and I'm going to read this off of a piece of paper I've got here, it says: Some may be skeptical but I am not. Some may doubt but I don't. Some may say it can't be done. I say "get outta my way."

Side Effects

I really have no side effects from my lumpectomy, it was pretty easy to heal up from the only trouble I ever encountered was with the Breast drain from the breast reconstruction, that was really uncomfortable. Other than that, though, really, I had no troubles at all. I didn’t work at my usual occupation, which was massage therapist at the time, for three months, I gave myself three months off to heal, and, uh, figure out where I was going from there. The side effects of my chemotherapy I kept to an absolute minimum by all of the natural therapies I was doing, I had acupuncture, Chinese herbs, um, I was juicing, and, again, all of these things I share on my blog site, which is marnieclark.com. My whole point of using that website is creating that website, I should say, is to unite conventional medicine with, um, alternative or complimentary therapies. I really believe strongly that it helped me so much through that whole journey with breast cancer.

Condition Status

In 2009, I was very fortunate to hear my oncologist tell me, "You are in complete remission and you consider yourself to be cancer-free." So I feel truly blessed about that.

Symptoms

Hi there. I'm known as Marnie C in the WhatNext forum. And I wanted to tell you a little bit about my journey with stage 2A breast cancer. Prior to my diagnosis with breast cancer I was a very healthy 48-year old woman, never had anything remotely as serious as cancer in my life. I, like I say, was really, really healthy. And being a natural therapist I took very, very good care of myself. In March 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, though. I had found a rather sizeable lump in my left breast that I swore wasn't there the month before, so it seemed to be very rapidly growing. I never dreamed that it would be breast cancer, though, even though I, you know, did have the family history. I just thought it was some sort of fibrocystic something or other. But knowing that you shouldn't wait on things like this, I took myself off to my doctor, and he confirmed that he could feel something, too, and sent me off for the requisite tests. I had a mammogram, which I had been having from the age of 40. I had yearly mammograms. So I had a mammogram, I had a- an ultrasound, and a fine-needle aspiration. And the excruciating thing was I had to wait so long to get the results from the tests back. I think it was something like three or four days. And then I had to wait another six days. It was just excruciating to wait all that length of time, but I still never suspected that it would be breast cancer.

Treatment Decisions

After the lumpectomy came my breast reconstruction, which came 15 days after the lumpectomy. If I say that I breezed through the lumpectomy, I did not breeze through the breast reconstruction. It was a lot more to recover from. I didn’t have any major complications. I chose the latissimus dorsi breast reconstruction because that was the one that my surgeon most highly recommended. No side effects from any of that really other than that stupid breast drain. I really hated that drain. Dragging that around with me was not any fun. The chemotherapy, my oncologist really strongly suggested that I start chemotherapy and then radiation immediately after my surgery. I wasn’t convinced though. Like I said, I’m a natural therapist. Just the word oncology was like a dirty word to me. So I had to get my head around that. I went home and I took four months with my decision. I felt like I could do that because my surgeon had said, “You’re cancer free.” I went to all kinds of different natural therapists. I studied all the books that I had at home, which was pretty prodigious amount of literature, and I soon convinced myself that it probably would be a good idea for me to do the chemotherapy. I went back to my oncologist four months later. This was November of 2004, and I told him that I wanted to do the chemotherapy. He was quite surprised. I don’t think he expected to see me again, but he had me do a bone scan and that was all clear. So I began chemotherapy then. My whole entire story of what I went through is on my blog site, which is marnieclark.com. Just click on breast cancer diary. My whole story is on there. And it’s probably more than you want to know.

WhatNext

I really love the What Next site because as a survivor, it’s a place where I can go and reach out to other people who have a fresh diagnosis, who are in that state of anxiety and fear. It allows me to reach out to them and take them by the virtual hand, if you will, and tell them that they’re going to be okay. They’re going to make it through this. It’s a place where we can be and hang out together and ask questions and get answers. We’re there with them. It’s a real community of real people and I think it’s an awesome resource for cancer patients.

Patient Doctor Relationship

I had a great working relationship with my oncologist. He was a great guy, young and really intelligent and had a great personality, but I don't think he knew what to do with my independent streak. There were times when I would meet with him and he would ask me "How you doing?" and I would say " Okay, but I've got some, you know, constipation" or whatever it was. He would give me some prescription for a drug, and I would go home and call my herbalist and have her make a herbal formula. And it worked fine. On the next visit then he would say "Well, how did you do with that drug?" and I would say "Oh, I didn't take it. I called my herbalist, and she made something up for me." One time he got rather exasperated. He was laughing, but he said "Do you listen to anything I say?" So, just know that you need to be completely open and honest with your oncologist. Let them know what you're doing. If they're okay with that, then that's great. Have them listen to everything that's bothering you while you're going through chemotherapy. If they're open to other things, that's wonderful, but just know that they're working for you, not the other way around. Some oncologists feel that their word is gospel, and if you don't follow it, then the heck with you. That's really not the way it should be. That's just my two cents worth on that.