Jennifer Armendariz

First post: Oct 18, 2020 Latest post: Feb 20, 2023
“Cancer is only going to be a chapter in my life, not the whole story.” Though now that cancer has returned, it seems to need several more chapters. 🤦🏼‍♀️

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Thank you for stopping by to check on my
boob cancer situation! I realize it’s not a joking matter... but we have to laugh, or we will cry, right? Buckle up because it’s a LONG story. (I am an English teacher, after all...)

On September 16, 2020, while laying in bed, I felt a strange radiating sensation in my left breast. It may have very well been God nudging me and saying, “Hey, something is wrong here. Please check it out. You still have a lot left to do in this life.”

I started feeling around and discovered a hard spot. It wasn’t really a “lump” like you would imagine, more like a small wall. Because one of my good friends was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, I knew that I wanted to get it checked out immediately.

An OB-GYN visit led to an ultrasound and mammogram, which led to a biopsy. This process took a couple weeks. During all of this, the doctors still didn’t seem overly concerned due to my age and the fact that I have no family history of breast cancer.

But on September 30th, we got the call. I was officially a member of the Club No One Wants To Be In. The diagnosis is Poorly Differentiated Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I had no clue what those words meant at the time, but after consulting Dr. Google and reading my pathology report, I had a better picture; unfortunately, I had to wait an excruciatingly long week and a half until meeting with my surgeon to find out the answer to the burning question, “Now what?”

One of the hardest days was a few days before my consultation with the surgeon; the hospital called to schedule my port placement. I didn’t know at that point if I was going to have to undergo chemo, or if surgery would be enough. The writing was on the wall with that phone call.

As it turns out, my cancer, a mass of about 2.5-3cm, is an aggressive type that requires chemo in order to avoid recurrence. Since I would prefer to not go through this again, I will accept the sickness and baldness as small prices to pay to live to see my babies grow up.

My surgeon explained about this plan in detail, but I didn’t meet my oncologist for another week. In the meantime, I had to undergo a series of tests: multiple CT scans, bone scan, echo ultrasound (to make sure my heart can handle the poison of the chemo), and my least favorite so far, the port placement. The port, in case you don’t know, is a great invention that will save me from getting an IV needle in my arm every treatment, but the procedure did not bring me joy. I’m still a bit tender.

My oncology team is absolutely amazing. The appointment with them put me more at ease with everything as they truly care for the whole person, emotionally, financially, and medically.

The plan is to have four months of the go-bald-and-make-you-sick chemo treatments and an entire year of a different chemo drug, which will still be given through infusion but has minimal side effects. Supposedly. Fingers crossed on that.

In about six months I will have surgery. Most likely it will include a double mastectomy with reconstruction, but we have time to decide.

My first treatment will begin October 27th, which means I have a little over a week of “normalcy” (minus an MRI and a “chemo class”) before things get real.

As my beautiful friend (also a breast cancer warrior) told me, I will have good days and bad days and downright terrible days, but I will get through it. There is no doubt that this journey will be difficult and painful, both physically and emotionally, but the end result will be worth it. Thank you so much for all of your support, prayers, and love. 💗

UPDATE: after less than a year of thinking I was cancer free… cancer dared to show its ugly face once again. Nearly the same place, same type, same stage, but very aggressive. So here we go again…. I’ll be updating with, er, updates for Round 2. 🥊😘

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