Kristina Smith My Breast Cancer Journey

First post: Sep 2, 2019 Latest post: Oct 22, 2020
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After 12 years on the job, Brandon was finally able to take a week long vacation this past July 2019. For years the summer months have always been picked over, which wasn't a big deal but this year our 7 year old wanted to go on a family vacation and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. We had a wonderful week of camping (thanks to our family friends for the camper) and boating, and came home exhausted. That night we got home, my breast cancer journey began. The quote that I will go by during this journey is a favorite for the guys, "Save a Life, Grope Your Wife"! Hey, whatever it takes to keep laughing:) So I called my doctor first thing Monday morning when I returned to work. She got me in on that Tuesday, July 23 and very noticeable felt that lump. She was confident that is was a fluid filled cyst and we tried to aspirate at that time...OUCH!!! Needless to say, no fluid came out and I was left with quite the hematoma. Due to this, I was unable to proceed with the mammogram that I had set up for the following week as it would have given a false positive due that mass created by the hematoma. So we had to wait for a few weeks for this to go away. I'm not going to lie, I was stressed. My hair was falling out in clumps due to all the stress that I was under during that waiting period. Fast forward to August 15. My morning started with a mammogram followed by an ultrasound, then an appointment with a surgeon. The mammo showed a solid mass, so the radiologist had the ultrasound tech take numerous pictures in both my breast and a lymph node in my armpit. To make a long story short, the words he used while talking to me at that time led me to believe what we would later find out. I got that same message from my surgeon, of course neither of them could give a guarantee until a biopsy was done. So I went back in the next morning Friday, August 16 for a biopsy on my left breast and lymph node. Dr. Herrera was amazing! For something so scary in such a tender area, his bedside manner kept me calm and comfortable and he numbed me up extra good:) Trust me, I was a nervous wreck through all of this. The unknown is just so scary, and as I stated before, the words in which they spoke led me to believe they already knew what they had to confirm, but I held on to that sliver of hope over that weekend. 

Monday, August 19: Until I got a phone call with results, I knew that everything was out of my control, so I went into work and had a great morning. Then that call came at apx 10:45am. My biopsy results came back positive for cancer in both my breast and my lymph node. My Estrogen & Progesterone Receptor's were Positive and my HER2 was Negative. That's all I knew! I work for a wonderful company! Needless to say I had a breakdown and my supervisor drove me home to tell Brandon. The rest of the week we had to wait until I could meet with my oncologist that Thursday, August 22. Talk about an overwhelming amount of information. She staged me at a 2B. I learned about the additional tests that I was going to have to do the week of 8/26 (this past week), when I would be starting my treatments, what those chemos will do to my body, etc. I took it all in, cried some more over the overwhelming complexity of it all, then put a game plan together. 

So this past week I did the following: had a PET Scan to make sure there were no other signs of cancer in my body. Besides the breast and lymph node that we already knew about, a node in my chest also lite up a bit. This is most likely due to the Sarcoidosis that I was diagnosed and struggled with last year, but to be 100% sure I will had a scope procedure biopsy done on Wednesday, September 4 to verify. Please send me prayer for this as I am a bit nervous. Otherwise the rest of that scan was great results. I had an Echo, which also came back with no issues, this I will have done prior to my chemo treatments due to one of the drugs can cause those muscles to weaken. My doctor is not as worried about that with me, but still going to watch out for it. I spoke with a genetic counselor and will have a BRCA test done as well as a full panel due to my age and diagnosis. I had an MRI which did show another small area in my breast where they believe is cancerous, but as I will have a full mastectomy of that breast I have opted out of have another biopsy to verify. I got a WIG...yes I will lose my hair. This was hard to hear at first, but lets face it, at this point I barely have hair on my head...gotta love that stress of the unknown. I had my port placement procedure yesterday, August 29. So I am still a bit sore from that, that will take a few more days to heal. And finally, an appointment with my doctor, Dr. Harichand to go over results, ask more questions and discuss when chemo will start. That date will be Thursday, September 5. 

How am I feeling? Completely overwhelmed. I have had a lot of information and doctor's appointments in 2 short weeks. I have had NUMEROUS people reach out offering to help and to share their story. I'm not quite there yet, but I did sign up with an organization called Can Do Cancer that services the Ankeny and Des Moines area for breast cancer patients. I will get a peer through that program that has had the same diagnosis as me and will allow me to share with them what I don't feel comfortable with sharing with someone I know. I get so many "cancer calls" during the days right now it's hard to get back to everyone else who is calling/texting/emailing because I continue to work as well. Speaking of work, definitely nervous because I have not  been at this job for a year so FMLA is not yet available. However, they have been nothing but supportive and helpful during this process. I hate missing work unless its a scheduled vacation, so this is testing me. I love my job and the company that I am with, so this cancer non-sense needs to go away so I can get back to my norm;)

Telling our kids was hard. Mira of course has no understanding, but she does see mommy's port and how sore it is. Dominic understands a bit better and was scared of me for a brief period. That is okay. He needed his time and space to think. He is trying to wrap his little mind around why mommy's "Super Hero Chemo Medicine" will make her sick when medicine is suppose to make you feel better. We have purchased some books and been lent some by our daycare provider to read and hopefully help them understand a bit more. cancer cells are the villains, I have a Super Hero Port where my Super Hero Chemo Meds will go in! Both kids however are excited to help cut and shave  mommy's head before her hair falls out. If this is a positive part of the experience for them then so be it! Honestly, it may help my emotions while we do it. I have some amazing friends who will be capturing that moment as it happens. Whether or not I share with others is still up in the air at this point. 

Brandon has been amazing. I have the best, most loving husband. This is affecting him just as much as it is affecting me. His world is drastically changing and he is taking it all in stride. He keeps me calm when I need it most and always makes me feel loved. I do worry about him through this as well. He tends to be a homebody (I can say that because he will admit to it:) but will need persuading to get out of the house away from all that is cancer and kids every once in a while.

Since I started this blog so late (how can 2 weeks be late right?!?!) I am leaving out a lot of information and emotion on some items that still cause me great anxiety. But I will try to keep this as informed as I can along my journey. If I don't have the energy, Brandon will leave a quick post as well. Thank you all for your support and prayers during this time. Its going to be a journey, but I've got my village and I will be needing/using it. Love you all! 

XOXO - Kristina

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