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11/2/2016 Latest post:
Welcome to my CaringBridge website. I am using it to keep family and friends updated easily. If you want to help in any way - please just keep me in your prayers. For those of you who are going thru this journey with me (including all you angel caregivers)- I will keep you in my prayers as well. Thank you for visiting.
Updated 11/17/16 - I have pondered for a long time not to link this to my FB page. I then decided to post it outside my immediate friends and family as my story may encourage another to self-check, have a mammogram as recommended or if you ever feel something not normal or different in some way. In my case, it has saved my life -- twice.
Read on if desired, but I am openly discussing personal details - so if uninterested - please be kind and exit here.
Journey history: How It All Started 10/2/2015 - I discovered a lump in the uppermost part of my right breast purely by accident. I was working and my hands were freezing and I tucked them under my arms - that is when I felt a lump - it was almost like a thickening in one spot. I religiously had all my "well-woman's" appts each December. For a few minutes I thought - I need to remember this to point it out when I go in a couple of months - and then a spam email popped into my email inbox about October being breast cancer awareness month. I called and made my appt a few minutes later because that was not a coincidence. After the imaging and biopsy, I was soon to hear those dreadful words on 10/13 ... you have cancer. I decided to have a lumpectomy and since the cancer was stage 1, PetScan and lymph nodes were negative, I forwent the recommended chemo/radiation as I read anything and everything and thought this was the best course of action. I did not realize then that a triple negative breast cancer was the rarest, most aggressive one. I had changed my diet to all healthy organic products, changed skin care, etc. I started going to a naturopath doctor several times a week to get ozone and oxygen treatments and had a regiment of several other cancer fighting natural remedies. I did this religiously but would give myself some cheat days here and there so I would NOT go crazy (ok I'm already there ... but crazier).
BLAH BLAH BLAH ... fast forward to ...
9/23/2016 - yep - you guessed it. I found another lump in close proximity to the initial area. This one felt bigger and was painful - totally different than the first. I knew instantly to make that appt. This time, however, I had promised my son that if the "natural" way did not work, I would reconsider traditional methods. I started chatting with The Cancer Treatment Centers of America. They have 5 locations across the US and the closest one to me is in Tulsa. Their philosophy of treating the whole body interested me the most as well as the naturopath oncologist on staff to work in tandem with the traditional oncologist you would choose. I was concerned about the travel, but they had a plan all worked out. I was there the first week of October for extensive testing and met with my chosen team consisting of a surgeon, plastic surgeon, naturopath and traditional oncologist, and a team of other specialists (nutrition, spiritual and physical therapist, acupuncturist, etc) so... Biopsy on 9/27, surgery on 11/2. I choose to have a DBL (or bi-lateral) mastectomy as the lumpectomy was now off the table. I have had several needle biopsy's to the other side so not much of a hard decision for this choice.
... side note - went to my college homecoming in NC a few days before surgery - best decision of my life (shout out to my CatU homies)...
11/2/16 - surgery - what can I say - anxious, emotional and long (@ 7ish hrs ) - not really sure as I was out of it for a while after they finished. Thanks angel caregiver for coming with me and holding my hand throughout. I was on some really good narcotics and did not feel a thing for the first day and the second day - they changed to oral meds and no more morphine drip (darn) - I slept thru the midnight dose and realized at 4:00AM that I could hardly breath when I awoke as I was in more pain than I can imagine - right up there with childbirth ladies - I do not recommend this - make sure your nurse knows to WAKE you when it is time.
I spent a week up at CTCA for recovery and then came home to recover for 2-3 weeks (thanks other angel caregiver who helped me thru the first weekend). I am happy to report I am almost off all pain meds and feel stronger every day. Not to say it has been a cake walk.
11/17/16 - going to CTCA tomorrow for follow ups and other appts - will be a day trip. I am really hoping these lovely drains will be removed tomorrow so I can finally drive and not have to rely on the kindness of all the angel caregivers who have helped and continue to help (near and afar).
FUTURE - On 11/28, I will prep for chemo, pre-op and other appts with surgery to install the port for chemo 11/29. Chemo is scheduled to begin early December. I will have 8 cycles (for inquiring minds - 4 of Adriamycin/Cytoxan, followed by 4 of Taxol). Yes, I will be sporting a new "do" soon. Each cycle has a 3 week rest period before the next - the cycles should be completed end of June '17. 3-4 months later, I will have the final reconstructive surgery and then I will be living large again.