It all started in August 2016. My daughter Sydney was eight weeks old, my son Owen was 2 1/2 and my significant others son was 14. I found a very small lump in my left breast so I brought it up to my doctor at my eight week post check up. My doctor and I agreed that we would just keep an eye on it because at the time I was breast-feeding my daughter and it could very well have been a blocked milk duct. Being a mother of a newborn and a very rambunctious 2 1/2-year-old boy it got put to the back of my mind. Unfortunately.
Fast forward 5 months to January 2017. My son and I were wrestling, giggling, playing around like usual and he dropped his elbow into my left boob. Ouch! That hurt was frightful to say the least. I laid down and gave myself a quick self exam and realized that small lump was now quite large. How have I been looking over this lump for the past five months? Well, I was still breast-feeding Sydney and pumping on a daily basis. Multiple times a day actually. Wow! This is crazy! I had Gale, (my significant other of the past 11+ years and our childrens father) come feel what I had just discovered. We agreed the minute my drs office opened I would be calling for an appointment.
It was the morning of Monday January 23rd. I called and I was seen THE NEXT DAY, the 24th by my favorite APN. She saw the concern on my face. I saw the concern on hers as she examined this "thing" that has been camping out in my boob for far too long. She scheduled me for a mammogram THE NEXT DAY.
Wednesday January 25th. My mammogram was painless. Awkward? A little. The lady conducting the exam and finigaling my boob in the machine asks "Miss, do you have an implant?" Hmmm. If I was in my early 20's, I would of been flattered. I am a 34 year old mother of 2 presenting with a large concerning lump. Nope. No implants. But thanks for the red flag. I had a sonogram immediately following to get a better idea of what this looked like on the inside. Another red flag.....a doctor conducting the sono. Not a tech. Hmmm. The lump measures 5 cm (2inches) and no fluid in it. Its solid. Its a tumor. A biopsy is needed. She also noticed the lymph nodes in my arm pit seemed large enough to be concerned and would keep that noted for anything else in the future.
Tuesday January 31st. Biopsy today. I wasn't very nervous. It was fairly quick and painless. They got what was needed to do their tests and I would get results THE NEXT DAY.
Wednesday February 1st. Results. My mom on my left. Gale on my right. I heard the words "Jackie, I'm sorry. It is Breast Cancer". They offered us time to take the news in but quite frankly, i just wanted to go home. It's Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I heard "curable". And well, that was about it. We went home. Changed. Changed completely in 1 beat of my heart. I had a different feeling when I hugged my babies that day. As little as they are, as much as they don't know yet, they give me the biggest strength behind this fight.
Thursday February 2nd. I received a phone call with more news regarding test results from the biopsy. "Jackie, I'm sorry to tell you, but your breast cancer is triple negative". "What? What does that mean? And from this point on, please, just be blunt.""It means it's more invasive, more aggresive, more likely to come back and there are less "drugs" to help cure it." Seriously? Its still curable. That I can deal with.
Friday February 3rd. We meet my oncologist. Set up a game plan for chemotherapy. 1st treatment set for Feb 16th. Tests and scans and appointments and more info and more tests and more results and more doctors to meet. Overwhelming. But ready. Lets do this. Get rid of it and go about our merry ways.
Over the next 9 days I had a bilateral MRI on my breasts, an echo on my heart (the specific chemo medication could cause heart issues), a PET scan and an appointment with a breast surgeon for my future plans of a possible mastectomy.
Monday February 13th. Meeting with the breast surgeon in the morning and results from my oncologist that afternoon. While speaking with the surgeon, she was looking at a paper and reading it out loud. The words"So its in your lymph nodes and stage 4.....?" came out of her mouth. I lost it. Gale finished speaking with her. We actually made sure it was in fact my name on those results. It was. She had no idea we hadnt gotten this news yet. Well, there it is. Metastatic stage 4 triple negative breast cancer. It's in my lymph nodes and traveling up the left side of my neck according to the PET scan films she showed us in a private room. A couple other very small spots in my left boob and by the bottom of my sternum next to my xiphoid. We went home. Then to the oncologist a couple of hours later. My oncologist had received a text from the surgeon with apologies for us that it came out of her mouth so unexpectedly. We understood mistakes happen but, that was over. What now? New plan. Biopsy on some lymph nodes to be more than positive they are malignant. Chemo will be delayed a week until we get those results. Then we'll go from there.
Wednesday February 15th. Biopsy day again. This time by my left clavicle. I also had my mediport put in today for chemo. The nurse tells Gale, my mom and I that after the procedure, if there are no concerns, we will be out the door within 30 minutes after completion. I'm wheeled to the recovery room feeling mentally clear, pretty good overall physically and ready to get out of there. I wait. And wait. And wait. No Gale. No mom. Then they walk in to recovery with a stone-cold expression on their face. "What did they tell you they didnt tell me?!" I asked. Gale tells me the man who performed the biopsy on my neck had told them he definitely saw malignant areas in the tissue they pulled out. What? Really? Needless to say i demanded the nurse call him. He came to me. I asked him "How positive are you of what you saw?" "I wouldnt think twice telling you that information if i wasn't so positive." There you have it. The second time we were given information from someone we weren't expecting. Mistakes happen. Some made it harder to cope but that's how the cards played out for me.
Monday February 20th. We meet with our oncologist who seems to be speaking more lightly of my cancer even though the diagnosis is worse than feom the last time we met with her. The plan has changed completely. Everything has changed completely. Metastatic ( in more place than 1) stage 4 (Due to size, lymph nodes and more place than 1) triple negative(more aggressive) breast cancer. She tells us my chemo regimen. Why she is choosing that option now and what to expect. Things like: you might be sick but you may not, you may have fatigue but shouldnt be too bad, you may or may not lose your hair, etc. Ok well that sounds refreshing...i guess...? But then. Its hard to even type out right now.... These are the next words I hear....It is no longer curable. It's treatable and manageable, but, not curable. Remission is the goal asap. You are now receiving what is called palliative chemo. We are helping prolong your life. Live your life. Do what makes you happy. Take short naps to refresh and stay healthy but, LIVE. Plan your life in 6 month increments to assure you get the most out of life with your children, your family, your wants and happiness-driven activities. Your life expectancy can't really be measured. It all depends on how well you respond to treatment.
This is my new journey. Fighting. Hoping. Spreading awareness and seeing ALMOST everything differently. Sadness is natural. Sympathy is natural. Pity, to me, is unnecessary. Pray or send positive vibes. Do whatever you're comfortable with. But most importantly, know when we wake up everyday healthy or not, we are lucky. We are loved. Spread kindness. Take it all in. Forgive truthfully. Live a joyful life. Everyday. Be aware of your body. Any signs something is not right, be proactive with getting it checked out. It may be nothing. But, after reading this, it unfortunately could be.
I have an amazing family. I have Ah-mazing friends. Mysupport circle is growing by the minute😘 and I love it honestly. I need it. My family needs it. My parents, my sister and my brother in law who are expecting their first child in May😍 My "husband", my "step son" and my children as well. If you take the time to reach out, I see it. I appreciate it. Whole heartedly. My story is my story. There are millions out there unfortunately but, please feel free to share it! Thank you for reading this. my plan is to journal as much as possible on this site whether it just be a few words to keep everyone updated, read any messages or expand my circle. I will answer ANY questions. If this is the only time you read my story, thank you! If you become a follower, thank you! If you take the time to send kind words or prayers, thank you!
Spread love. Live life. Enjoy today. And check those boobies! Xoxo Jackie