Hope Lodge - our home for 6 weeks from 9/11 - 10/20/17.

Mary Ann Fehlen

First post: Nov 11, 2016 Latest post: Nov 13, 2018
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.

October 30, 2000 I was diagnosed with lobular breast cancer at the age of 43. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy with 22 lymph nodes removed on  the right side. In December of 2000 I started a course of chemotherapy consisting of 4 cycles of Adriamycin and 4 cycles of Cytoxin and Taxol. This was followed by 3 years of Tamoxifen, a hysterectomy and then 5 years of Arimidex (both oral chemotherapy drugs). My oncologist released me in 2009 as cancer-free. My energy gradually came back over the years and life was good. In 2011 after much thought and research, I decided to have bilateral breast reconstruction with silicone implants placed. It was a tough surgery with a couple of hiccups but overall, after 11 years, was happy I made the decision as it made me feel complete and "normal".

In August of this year, 2016 I noticed the incision on the right side had a red, raised area that had not been there previously. I watched it thinking maybe it was scar tissue. It continued to look suspicious and then a burning and pain started which radiated into my armpit and down the inside of the arm. I went to my personal physician who did a skin biopsy. That was on October 20. On Monday, October 24 she called and told me the biopsy was positive - that my breast cancer had metastasized to the skin. She referred me to a surgeon and right away a flurry of tests began. The CT scan of my chest, abdomen and pelvis was normal. The bone scan was normal. The breast MRI showed a mass the size of a kiwi in the right upper quadrant in the exact location my original breast cancer was located. The original cancer was ER (estrogen receptor) positive. This cancer is ER and also PR (progesterone receptor) positive (ductal carcinoma).

My original care was at Mayo so I have a 16 year history with them so I have decided to go back there for care. My first visit was on Monday of this week and Bernie and I will go back tomorrow for another appointment with the surgeon and oncologist. My doctor called last night and is concerned that the cancer is now also in the muscle. She is thinking this is what is causing the burning and pain. At this time we don't know the course of treatment. It's possible chemotherapy will be done first to shrink the mass. If that's the case, chemo will start next week.  I will do chemotherapy at St. Croix Hospital so I'm close to home. There are so many questions and I just don't know the answers.

I very much appreciate all of your love, support, hugs, prayers, phone calls, text messages, emails over the past couple of weeks. All of your caring is what is going to make the difference and give me strength and courage so thank you! I am starting this site so that it's easy to update everyone in one place with the same information and not miss anyone.  I plan to conquer this with courage and grace.

Thanks for helping me make this journey. Hugs and love to you all!

Mary Ann

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