I was diagnosed with breast cancer in August, and had surgery (lumpectomy) on September 20th. In a whirlwind of decision making we came to the conclusion that chemotherapy was advisable. Yesterday, December 28th I had what is my last planned round (of 4) of chemotherapy. Im not a fan honestly. It has been a challenge to remain positive during this phase of the treatment. I got a two night stay in the hospital due to a neutropenic fever- all expenses paid-NOT. The nurses, doctors, and friends have helped me to laugh and keep my sanity.
I had two more diagnostic scans in January indicating that the breast cancer did not migrate to other areas of my body!!!
I've had a few weeks post chemo to recover. I feel mmmuch better and working through side effects. It's interesting how those words "side effects" seem to belittle what happens to a body after treatment. The edema, the neropathy, the exhaustion, the mental confusion. Those are just side effects...
Now for the next step in my treatment. In late January or early February, I started radiation therapy in Hibbing for 6 weeks/5 days a week to make sure all the cancer was targeted. My treatment is a full out assault ranging from surgery, to chemistry, and now protons.. I was "fitted" for my radiation treatments late January and got three tattoos! The technology used for these treatments is amazing. The appointments themselves do not take that long, but we live almost an hour from Hibbing, so lots of quality 'books on tape' time. The radiation treatments went smoothly It's like being abducted by aliens and having them do a daily scan with a large machine! It is actually not unpleasant. The room is serene, the people are very nice, and they play some awesome music. Today it's was born to be wild, the technicians said they monitor the music and turn off hits like "stairway to heaven"... for obvious reasons. Made me laugh.
Yes! After 6 weeks my radiation treatments were done. Just like that. DONE. For now anyway.
I am grateful, exhausted, numb, elated, and so much more. I have a friend that was diagnosed with cancer recently and I grieve for him 'cause I know where he is going. I pray that he comes out the other side stronger.
I'm leaving on vacation soon, and know I will be making changes when I get back. I go back for a check up when I get back. I guess they will tell me if I passed... Our vacation was exactly as it should have been: beautiful, distracting, and warm. It has really helped with recovery of my body and re-engagement with my family.
As hard and shocking as the discovery of cancer was, we feel very fortunate. The cancer was detected relatively early from a routine mammogram, and I have had great care at Grand Itasca Hospital and Clinic and in Hibbing. The doctors, nurses, and all the staff have been fantastic.
It has brought our family closer together, and has made us appreciate what a great group of friends, both local and not, that we have!! It has made all four of us thankful for all the relationships and experiences we have, and freed us up from sweating the small stuff-most of the time. My children and husband have really taken good care of me for which I am so grateful. The hardest thing I had to do was tell my sweet babies (13 and 10). I'm so proud of them! They have found positive ways to cope with the diagnosis and keep up with their lives!
The experience opened my heart to possibilities that I never would have considered, and helped me to see grace and gratitude all around me. It has renewed existing friendships also opened new friendships that have been a saving grace. It has also been a hellish experience that has stripped me of many things that defined me and left me with permanent evidence of my brush with mortality. I have scars and tattoos, and very little hair. I have new pains and loss of strength that challenge me daily. I pray that new treatments come along as research advances or that prevention strategies are identified.
This is hopefully my last entry-Although I try not to take anything for granted anymore! Over the past year, the diagnoses of breast cancer has sent me down a winding path. I completed surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and am taking hormone blockers to prevent recurrence. I am part of a Livestrong program to regain strength and my hair is back! I had clear PET and CAT scans and a clear mammogram so it seems that I am good to go for now which is a relief. Thanks to all for your support.
Unfortunately, cancer touches many of us and our families. My advice to you is to get regular cancer screening tests! and look at these prevention strategies.https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/The-10-commandments-of-cancer-preventionhttps://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention