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My story started back about mid April when I discovered a lump in my right breast. I underwent the biopsy and when that came back positive for breast cancer I then had the following tests: A PET scan, revealed the cancer had spread to one lymph node. An EEG was ordered to establish a base line for my heart as the chemo could potentially cause harm, and the blood work was done to reveal my hormone levels. The final results showed I was estrogen and progesterone positive and HER2 negative. Based on the size of the tumor and the results of the testing this puts me at stage 3 breast cancer.
The following days were spent researching cancer treatment centers and weighing my options with the final decision being to go with the the Team at the Virginia Piper Institute at Abbott.
May 18th I met my cancer team for the first time. After discussing my case, listening to the treatment options outlined and meeting the doctor in person I felt very confident that I had made the right choice. The following is the course outline for my treatment: chemotherapy (to shrink the tumor), surgery and then radiation.
It was then determined that it would be most beneficial for me to have a port installed for the ease of drawing blood and the administration of the chemo itself. This also took place at Abbott about a week before my first treatment. Now the real fun begins :)
May 21st--my first chemo treatment--this round consists of 4 treatments administered every other week and is a combination of 2 drugs. For those of you who are a bit familiar with these they are: doxorubicin (otherwise known as the red devil) and cyclophosphamide. I know they tell you not to believe everything you hear, don't listen to everyone else's horror stories, but it is impossible to keep your fears in check and not wonder "how will I react" "what is going to happen when they shoot that poison into my veins", "will I get sick", etc......... Much to my surprise I did not have much of any side effects from this first round other than some additional fatigue. I was also given a Neulasta patch which is actually an injection that goes off automatically 27 hours after it is placed, This patch is necessary to help boost my white blood cell count. However, as predicted I did experience significant hair loss so I decided to shave my head. (WOW--WHAT A REALITY CHECK) My son, in an effort to show his support, jumped the gun and actually shaved his head a week before I did---I on the other hand, was keeping mine as long as I could.......... LOL
June 4th--round 2---this one did not go quite as smoothly as the first. The problem started when they attempted to draw blood from my port and ran into a few snags. It was soon discovered that tissue had formed around the port and no blood was forthcoming. They then had to inject a medication into the port to try and unblock the tube. After more than an hour of waiting for the medication to work the blood draw was successful, all tests were good and we were finally able to start the chemo. (I should mention here that the whole chemo treatment takes about 2 hours to administer) Based on the issues had with my port, my doctor suggested I have a dye study to determine if the port was functioning correctly. This was scheduled to be done prior to my next treatment. Once again, a Neulasta patch was placed and this time the body aches were more significant than last.
June 18th--round 3--my day started with a trip to radiology where I underwent the dye study of my port. The results showed that the tubing was twisted and 2-3 centimeters to short which was why they could not draw blood. Lucky me--I get to redo the whole port placement again!!!!! It was determined that the port was ok to continue with this chemo treatment and luckily I had a very experienced nurse who was able to find my one and only good vein--first time even--and do the required blood draw so that I could continue with my treatment schedule. In order to do the chemo through the port, they actually have to see blood in the tube--don't ask me why as I have no clue I just know what they tell me. So because of the issue with my port, to anyone watching you would think I was practicing to be a contortionist as I had to lean way back in my chair, slide sideways, lift my arm over my head and turn my head to the right and surprise............ then they could get the blood to show in the tube. This had to be done 3 times throughout the treatment and I still can't believe it worked. This time I experienced severe hot flashes, extreme fatigue and body aches comparable to being hit by a Mack truck. On the upside they only lasted for 4 days!!
June 25th--underwent surgery for the placement of a new port---keep your fingers crossed that this one actually works! I will find out this coming Monday when I have my last round of the first round of chemo.