Candy Culver Breast Cancer Journey

First post: May 23, 2017 Latest post: Sep 11, 2017
Welcome to my CaringBridge page. I am using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. I appreciate all your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

So ... after Rick's gathering in mid February, I started getting things back on track for my health appointments. I'd switched to Kaiser in 2017 and needed to establish new doctors all around - thankfully, a friend's wife referred to a great gynecologist who was taking new patients.

Once I had my annual exam and a mammogram on March 3, I got a call to come back for follow up. I hadn't felt anything and was guessing dense breasts were the reason, so when they said they needed to do an ultrasound and they kept running the wand over the same place, it started to hit me  all may not be ok. The doctor would be in in a minute to talk with me.... She explained they were seeing something and said I could have things biopsied that afternoon or I'd need to wait a week.

I drove back home to let Riley out - in disbelief - and called Marilyn in tears to see if she could take me back in a few hours for the biopsy. I was to expect results from the biopsy in 4-5 working days, but the call came early Monday morning. Was so shocked to hear the doctor talking about "active" cancer cells and abnormal cells in my armpit. Even after the biopsy, I hadn't really thought it was cancer - and I jotted down notes on several post it notes and hung up the phone in shock.

Three days later, I was in a breast cancer education class, and not quite a week after that, I was talking with my interdisciplinary breast cancer team (surgeon, oncologist, radiologist). Apparently, when the Kaiser doctors got together the day before, they had quite a discussion about my case - not! what you really want to hear. Since there was still some uncertainty about the abnormal papillary cells in my armpit, one more test before deciding what type of surgery doctors would recommend - an MRI.

The day before surgery, the surgeon called to tell me their recommendation: lumpectomy and removal of 15 lymph nodes on my left side.

April 6
Surgery. More complicated than expected, since they found a third mass when they got in there. Then I waited to hear pathology results. The "mystery" cells in my armpit? Metastatic breast cancer that had escaped the lymph node. Again, not what I wanted to hear. The good news, the doctor said, was that it wasn't a second type of cancer.

When the oncologist said I needed to undergo chemo, radiation and hormone therapy to reduce my chance of recurrence from 50 to 20%, I was taken back. I had expected radiation and hormone therapy but not chemo or all three. And as soon as someone says chemo, I think we all shudder....

And treatment began.

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