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10/13/2016 Latest post:
My cancer journey began on August 28, 2016 when I found the lump in my right breast. I asked TJ, "Should I call the doctor? I will feel ridiculous if it has always been there!" You see, I had given myself a few breast self-exams, but not enough to know how I normally felt (sorry Mindy...you tried to tell me four years ago). So I called the doctor the next day and they scheduled me for a breast exam with my gynecologist three days later. I went to the exam by myself thinking it would be nothing. My doctor examined me and advised that she believed they (yes, there were two) were probably just cysts and nothing to worry about, however she wanted me to get a mammogram of both breasts and an ultrasound of the right one. I had never endured a mammogram before because after all I am only 38 and there is not a lot of family history of breast cancer. They were able to get me in that afternoon, so I went in thinking it would be nothing. The mammogram and ultrasound were performed and I met with the radiologist. He showed me the calcifications throughout my breast, which alone are normal, but then he pointed out two calcification clusters that in my opinion seemed to have tails. He told me he was not certain that the trailing off calcifications were related to the clusters, but he was very concerned that they were. In addition to that, a lymph node in my right armpit was thickened about twice the size it should be. He started talking about ductal carcinoma in situ and invasive ductal carcinoma, which was his suspicion for me. He wanted me to get them biopsied right away. He got me scheduled for the next day where the doctor took three samples from each lump and two from the lymph node. It was a relatively pain free process and I received the results five days later (because it was a Friday and Monday was a holiday) and my worst fears were confirmed...although I already knew in my heart that it was cancer. So now begins the whirlwind of emotions, research and phone calls to determine what the next steps are and where I want to go for surgery and treatments. I met with two breast surgeons in different cities and one oncologist and all doctors tell me the same thing. First of all, the cancer cells showed up in both lumps and the lymph node. It is estrogen positive, progesterone negative and Her-2 negative. Apparently this is a good combination because it can be treated with hormonal therapy. Also, this is a common type of breast cancer, kind of a best case scenario as far as breast cancer goes, and it can be treated with very good results. My plan is to do chemotherapy first to 1) try to kill off any cells that may be floating around anywhere else in my body that the scans don't detect; 2) to see if the chemo is effective; and 3) to hopefully reduce the number of lymph nodes that will have to be removed during surgery. This will last approximately five months. Then I will have surgery, likely a double mastectomy, but I don't have to make that decision just yet. The surgeon did not believe there would be much tissue left if I opted to do a lumpectomy and that it would probably not look normal. (And do I really want to take the chance of it coming back since I am still so young??) Third will be radiation therapy and last I will have to take hormone medication for 5-10 years. This will lower the amount of estrogen in my body and block the action of estrogen on breast cancer cells. I had a PET scan and MRI two days ago and those came back good, so it appears that the cancer is contained to the right breast area. Praise the Lord!! I get a port put in in two days and anticipate beginning chemo very soon. So many people have reached out to me offering help with meals, house cleaning, rides to doctor's appointments, taking care of my kids and giving me a shoulder to cry on and I am so very grateful and overwhelmed by all the love, prayers and support!! It is this support and the strength that God has given me that has gotten me this far and will continue to get me through this long road ahead, but I know this is only a chapter in my book. I will be sharing an online calendar in the near future for those who wish to lighten my load in whatever way they can. Thank you for reading my story and for all your love and support! I know God's got this!!