Debra Lee | CaringBridge

Debra Lee Debra's Cancer Journey

First post: Dec 23, 2017 Latest post: Feb 5, 2019
Hi sunshines. 
This is my story...  

A place to share my story and where family and friends could stay updated during my battle with breast cancer. 
Life had been pretty good up to my 64th birthday. Rick and I sold our home in the mountains the previous year and rented a small apartment for our "home base" while we set out traveling across the states. On one of our road trips in May, 2017 to Colorado, while sightseeing, I tripped and broke my ankle. We had to return home, and from there things started going down hill. A month later I was diagnosed with 3 blood clots in my left leg and had to continue to use crutches for the next 6 weeks. 

 After several visits to the emergency room for severe pain,  red and swollen ankle and leg and a number of referrals and second opinions,  I was told I had a nerve disease called "Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome", nicknamed the “suicide disease,” because the intense pain has led people to take their own lives. “  My biggest challenge has been having to manage and live with CRPS.  I was at a very low ebb at this stage in my life, and I was at lost as to how I could overcome and live with this disease after having to be in a wheelchair.

My life was about to change enormously when 5 months late on December 5th, during an annual mammogram and then biopsy, I was told I had Triple Negative Breast Cancer. I remember it was on a Tuesday when Rick and I went to see the surgeon who I was referred to.  I don't remember much of that day as she talked to us about the treatment plan other than me feeling I couldn't get out of there fast enough. She told us that she wanted to schedule me for Surgery the following Wednesday.  The internet was at our fingertips, and I was horrified and terrified on reading the statistics of "Triple Negative Breast Cancer" and how it was an aggressive cancer and difficult to treat. My mind went into a tailspin as I tried to deal with my worst fear...  

 A few days later, Rick sat me down , and talked to me about how he wanted me to get the best care and treatment.  Once I agreed, he held me in his arms, we cried together, and he said we will get through this. I'll take care of everything and I don't want you to worry about the money or where were going to live. I gained strength right then in there because I knew he was the perfect person to take this journey with me. He is a rock.... He is my rock.  So after several phone calls and arrangements over the phone,  Rick and I packed up our things and traveled to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, one of the best cancer centers in the world. 

Rick and I arrived in Houston a few days before meeting with the team of Dr's at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. We were both exhausted from the packing and long drive. On Dec 20th I had 2 hours of imaging. On the 21st, I spent 3 hours with the medical oncologists and the surgical oncologists. On the 22,  l met with the internal medicine Dr, spent over an hour with her.

First of all, I'd like to mention this hospital and the team of Doctors are amazing. Unlike any medical facility I have ever been too. They are so caring. Patient. Understanding, and have this way of making you feel like a person and not just a number. Because of the type of breast cancer I have, the Dr's are going to start  chemotherapy treatment first for 6 months because it's an aggressive cancer. On January 11th, I'll have lab work and then I'll be sedated and have a "port" implanted under my skin through blood vessels in my chest. Once a week I will go into the hospital and have chemo medicine administered into this "port" which then the medicine flows through the bloodstream, hopefully killing the cancer cells.

I say hopefully because there is 50/50 chance chemotherapy will shrink the tumors. This is the first round of Chemo with the "port", this drug is more powerful and has the worst side effects. Called, Doxorubicin. Hair loss, nausea, low white blood cells, low red blood cells. I'll be monitored closely for infections, mouth ulcers, decreased heart function, decreased liver function, numbness in hands,fingers, arms, and legs, and a long list of other side affects. The next drug is called, Taxol.  

After chemotherapy I will then have to wait and be monitored for 4 weeks in order to get me healthy for surgery. When I have surgery the surgeon will remove about 7 lymph nodes and then the pathology will show if the cancer has spread. We will know then what stage cancer I'm in too. There is also a chance I may have to have radiation treatment after surgery. I'm going to stop here, because I am overwhelmed. 

Take life day by day... and be grateful for the little things. Don't get caught up in what you can't control. Focus on the positive. It's the little things that make life big. , 
To the people in my life who make me smile, who support me, and bring me joy... I thank you, I love you dearly.
 All My Love Debra...