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Aug 18, 2018
Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I'm using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
This all came about in August 2017 when I noticed a change in my left breast. (I had a bit of discharge exit my breast.) I immediately called my friend to tell her about the experience. We somewhat chalked it up as hormones from the birth control I was on. The abnormality continued into September and I grew weary of the occurrence since it was only happening on the left side. I kept thinking to myself "if this were hormones, wouldn't it be on both sides?" Lucky for me, I am a Veteran and have an annual checkup with my primary care doctor right around my birthday. My appointment was October 11, 2017. She did her exam and was pleased with my health. She asked if there was anything I wanted to tell her about and I told her no. My intuition starting screaming at me. "Heather, tell her about it. You know something's wrong." I backtracked on myself and told her about the since ceased discharge. As I was only turning 28 the next day, I'm too young for a mammogram and she said she would order an ultrasound just to be safe. Cleveland VA contacted me a week or two later and set an ultrasound for November 2017. During this visit they found a very small tumor which they believed to be benign given many factors, some of which are: having no family health history of breast cancer or reproductive cancer, I'm only 28, I don't smoke or excessively drink, and list goes on. At the time it was in a characteristically benign shape as well. I was taken aback by the tumor news, but was reassured that 9 of out of 10 times it's benign. The radiologist wanted to keep an eye on it however, and said she would check it again in March 2018 for an all clear. In that time I didn't worry much and continued with my normal life. I saw a breast specialist in January 2018 who was very helpful with teaching me about my risk factors (which again, are extremely low) and was confident that it wasn't a cancerous tumor. March 13, 2018 everything changed. I went in for what I thought was going to be my all-clear exam. I did my ultrasound and the radiologist came in to talk to me. She told me although the tumor hadn’t grown, it changed into an more A-typical shape and I required a biopsy of the tumor. I was so taken aback and worried. I was sent up for a mammogram and all of a sudden it felt really serious. I told everyone I had to get a biopsy and still everyone was still confident it would be benign. I was personally not so confident. I just had this weird feeling that I was the 1 in 10. April 4, 2018 I received a biopsy on my pea-sized tumor and learned on April 6, 2018 it was in fact cancerous. I really wasn't surprised by the news at all. I felt completely healthy and normal, but I just knew something in my intuition was off. Since the diagnosis, my VA team of doctors have expedited every step of this journey for me. In the first pathology results, we found out my cancer is triple positive. This means I have estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 proteins in my cancer. All very treatable, but the HER2 can point to possible genetic ties. I did some of the genetic testings available to me and all came back negative. The scientific conclusion: Science can't explain why I got cancer, so they turn to your environmental exposures. I refuse to go down that road and obsess. So I've just accepted what is happening and I'm doing my best to be positive. I received my lumpectomy May 18, 2018 with a margins cleared result. (means they got all the cancer out of the breast) Unfortunately, one of the two lymph nodes taken and biopsied had traces of cancer within it. I was officially diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer. My doctors planned on chemotherapy as part of my treatment, but I was really hoping to escape it if my lymph nodes were all clear. If they had been, that means they could guarantee the cancer was only in my left breast: localized. This is no longer the case since my cancer was aggressive and fairly quick moving. Even with this news, there is still a 72% chance the lymph node did its job and I have no cancer in my body. And even crazier, my very own immune system would fight off escaped floaters. (if any) My treatment plan is as follows: Five months of chemotherapy, starting August 3, 2018. Eight weeks every 2 weeks, and then 12 weeks once a week. I will go bald. *insert shrug emoji I will also received localized radiation to my left breast once chemo is done and I will be on hormone lowering pills for 3-5 years. The HER2 protein will also require a year of treatment. It's been a literal roller coaster of emotion. I never thought I'd be the one going through breast cancer. I have an amazing support system that's been with me every step of the way. There was a while that I didn't want to tell anyone outside of my circle, but things change when you realize you're going to go bald and that might be suspicious. haha Either way, I will write about my journey here for everyone to follow. I would appreciate not getting tons of private messages about how I'm doing. This is extremely overwhelming and this site gives me the opportunity to inform everyone of the process. Love you all!
P.S. Special shoutout to my breast cancer sister Rachel for introducing me to CaringBridge and reminding even on the dark days, there's a light at the end of this tunnel!