The Struggle is Real!

Michelle Wagner

First post: Jun 12, 2018 Latest post: Nov 30, 2018
Welcome to the most recent edition of Michelle's Medical Mishaps. It seems I wasn't content with just getting to experience the cardio-thoracic and neurosurgeons at Froedtert.  I needed to check out their cancer care to see if it can live up to its reputation, too. This chapter begins in May of 2018 when I was diagnosed  with triple negative breast cancer. 

I first noticed something was up when we returned home from our spring break trip to Fox Hills in early April.  My right arm and shoulder felt particularly sore, tingly, and numb in spots. We had been swimming, walking, and carrying bags, so I thought I had pinched a nerve. The pain persisted, however, even into my right breast which felt hard and bruised. I called my ob/gyn, but the phone nurse assured me that pain is never associated with breast cancer. I insisted that I wanted to see the doctor and was finally able to get in that next week.

The doctor felt the "lump" that I indicated, but her thought was that it was my dense breast tissue, and she again reassured me that the pain couldn't be a problem because pain is only associated with breast cancer in its later stages... However, she did say that if it would make me feel better, she would order a mammogram and an ultrasound. Yes, it would make me "feel" better.

I had the ultrasound on May 18th, about 6 weeks after first feeling the initial pain and hardness. The doctor who read the ultrasound saw a tumor on my right breast as well as some suspicious lymph nodes. He was able to do a biopsy immediately. The biopsy came back showing cancer both in the tumor on my breast as well as in the nodes. The only test that was still pending was something called a FISH test, and from the look on the doctor's face, I could tell he wasn't expecting a good result. I would like to engage in a game of poker with this particular doctor at some point, I think. 

As expected, the result came back the way his face showed it would. The ultimate diagnosis is that I have Stage IIIb triple negative breast cancer.  The cells seem to be fast-growing and aggressive, so we're going to get at them with the best possible medicine at our disposal. I feel like we have a great team of doctors and a wonderful plan of attack. I've entered a clinical trial led by Dr. Cheng at Froedtert with which he is attempting to establish a new standard of care for TNBC. His hope is to see the success rate rise from 35% to 60%. I not only hope to be in that 60%, I have faith that I will be. 

I also know that I have an excellent support group, people all around me who love and care for my family and for me.  We are going to beat this thing. 

Thanks for visiting our CaringBridge Site - and thanks for being with us during this challenging time.

Most of all remember this: Hope walks through the fire - Faith leaps over it  (Credit to Jim Carrey for the sentiment, but it resonates with me).