Paula Brown

First post: Mar 10, 2017 Latest post: Sep 29, 2017
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I guess first I should tell you what's happened up to now!

On November 10, I went to the Gynecologist for my annual exam. As he performed the breast exam on my right side, I had a pain shoot through my breast when he palpated one area. "No worries," he said. I'm sure it's just fibrous tissue. You need to get your annual mammogram, but I'm not going to order any special testing. "

Would you believe there was a cancellation and I had my mammogram the next day (it's a God thing)?  

I arrived for my appointment and when I was called back, I asked the technician if she could concentrate on that sore area. She did, and an ultrasound was ordered. I wasn't worried--I've had one of those on the other breast before and it was nothing. 

Monday morning my gynecologist called to say that a biopsy was needed.   It was scheduled for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. 

During the biopsy, the surgeon had to chase the tumor around to get a sample. "Cancer doesn't move around like this," he said. Great!  I can stop being concerned, right?  The next week I returned for the followup by myself since Jeff had worked the night before and needed to sleep--after all, it's nothing. The surgeon came in the room and said,"I can't believe I'm having to tell you this, but you have invasive breast cancer. It's very small, so most likely you can have a lumpectomy and radiation or a mastectomy and that will take care of it."

I got to come home and wake Jeff up to tell him that startling news!  Now what?  Well, I'd always said I would go to Birmingham if I ever had anything serious, so after consulting with my son, Scott, who went to medical school and did his residency there, I chose my doctor and made the appointment. 

Tests were repeated and it was determined that I had early stage breast cancer. Surgery should render me cancer free!

I decided to have a bilateral mastectomy with TRAM reconstruction (using my belly to form new breasts).   I would later discover I had the CHEK2 gene, which predisposes me to breast cancer, so that was a good choice. 

Surgery was originally scheduled for March 1, but thanks to a cancellation, it was moved up to February 8!  Of course, my biggest concern was that lymph nodes would be involved. In fact, that was my first question when I came to after surgery. Jeff knew he couldn't lie, so told me yes. After quite a few expletives, I began to ask more questions. At that point we were not told how many or what stage my cancer was, we just knew that it most likely meant further treatment. 

On my return appointing the breast cancer surgeon, we learned that 6 nodes were involved, and it had begun to erupt out of one of them. Next stop, the medical oncologist's office. He informed me that yes, I needed chemo and radiation because I definitely had cancer cells floating around in my body, they just hadn't formed tumors yet. Twelve weeks of Taxol, receiving an infusion once a week. Then 4 treatments of a combination of Cytoxan and Adriamycin, given every other week, then radiation. Here we go!

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