Jennelle’s Story

Site created on February 16, 2021

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Friday, January 8, 2021 I had my very first mammogram at age 41. Yay me! Boy, I thought having a Pap smear was uncomfortable because of the vulnerability. Ahhh...I wasn’t prepared for the amount of handling and maneuvering of my breasts and it wasn’t the hands of my husband!

Newest Update

Journal entry by Jennelle Brings

Good morning!
Little update- my healing process has gone smoothly. My procedure caused very little pain through the whole process, I am thankful for that!

I returned to work on April 4th, exactly one month from my double mastectomy. I noticed on my “cancer” side breast my tissue started to pull away from my scab/incision site. I kept it clean, dry, and covered. By the way, disposable nursing pads make great dressings that stay in place. I sent a message to my plastic surgeon with a picture. I unfortunately did not hear from them until Friday. But was ok with that since I know what to watch for. They had me start on Keflex, again. I have been without an antibiotic may 7 days since March 4th.
Sunday I took a picture my my breast and the site appeared to be getting wider. Being this started at least 6 days ago I know that I couldn’t use a steri strip and close myself. I could have trapped microbes which could have been bad!

Friday, April 9th I had an appointment with my medical oncologist for post treatment. When you have a tumor removed you can opt for a test called an Oncotype. This will determine if your cancer type would benefit from chemotherapy/hormone blocking medicine like tamoxifen. There are different recommendations based on your cancer type, pre/post menopausal etc, tumor size. 
My tumor was small, slow growing, early stage. I am pre-menopausal. Greater than 22 in pre-menopausal women some oncologist’s would recommend both endocrine therapy and chemotherapy. 
When my tumor was removed I had clear margins well within the means. Meaning, the tissue surrounding was free of cancer. The rest of my left side was free from cancer, lymphnodes clear and my right breast did not have any cancer either.
 Back to my appointment- doc walks in and introduces himself and explains his role. (I already have met him with my initial consultation of my diagnosis. I told him in our first visit that chemotherapy was not on the table for discussion, I did not feel I needed it with staging/grading.
He went on to talk about therapy options. I reminded him we have met before and I said that I wasn’t interested in chemo. I was told that I will not need radiation either. He wasn’t aware of that. He brought in a copy of my Oncotype lab. He asked if I had a chance to review it. My response, I saw that it was scanned in my chart but was not released by him for me to view. I let him know I however did review it as I am an employee of Allina but do not understand the lab itself other than I know my score was good.
My Oncotype, 16, 16!!!! My rate of reoccurrence if I did nothing is <6%. If I did tamoxifen it brings my percentage down (I am not sure of the percentage I don’t have the report) but if I did both chemo and tamoxifen the difference from one therapy and the chemo is 1.7. My thinking is I have no cancer in my body it’s clear. I am making dietary changes, eating organic when I can. I will be exercising try to reduce my BMI since I’m too short for my weight right now.
I asked if there was anything I needed to avoid or supplements/medications that inhibit the effectiveness of this medication. We went through my list of supplements. There was nothing in my visit made me feel that I should have that poison in my body and kill healthy cells. As of now, that is what I have. Healthy cells. Heck, I even had COVID with cancer. I’d say I’m pretty healthy. Side effect to taking tamoxifen is depression and can have an effect on cholesterol. He talked about things to watch for in terms of depression and in joint pains. I will need my IUD removed, which means Steven will need to have a snip snip. My doc said that I can be on a non-hormone IUD. I declined and said no thank you, I have taken care of birth control foe the last 20+ years, he can have a vasectomy. He then said well you can tell him your doc said he needs to have it. Thanks, but I don’t need to say that. He doesn’t want children, he can take care of that. My doc asked at the end of our visit if there’s any way he can convince me to go through chemo. I said absolutely no way! NONE. 
Later that night after picking up my prescription I was reading information about the medication. Information I found out about depression medication and inhibitors to tamoxifen, bupropion (Wellbutrin) was on that list and it was #1!! I was PISSED. 
See, through my whole visit from the moment he walked in to the end he did not prepare for my visit. If he looked through my chart he would have known we had a consult, I wasn’t interested in chemotherapy, I didn’t need radiation, I have a history of depression with anxiety and am almost on the max dose of wellbutrin. Get this, he didn’t know I had a bilateral mastectomy!!!!! So, all the information he gave me has me questioning him as a physician.
It’s ok to question, it’s ok to ask as many questions so you as the patient understand. Understand treatment options, outcomes, rights as a patient. 

I am going to have a second opinion with a different group. I do not have confidence in him. Even though I have a 1 year supply of medication and have a follow up in July with him. I am going to explore another opinion. Get clarity on why exactly with onco score of 16 he would want me to proceed with chemotherapy. I have an appointment set for next Thursday. 

This past Monday I followed up with plastic about that dehiscence (pulling away of skin) they decided since I am healthy, have been on antibiotics I would be a good candidate to debris my wound and close it up again. That procedure was yesterday morning. Virtually painless. I was very tired yesterday and didn’t have any postoperative pain except my throat and uvula both inflamed. Today, still without pain, we have been traveling to watch Tony in MO. 

That is all for now. Stay on top of your care, ask as many questions as you would like answers to. Research. Know your options. Advocate for yourself! If I would have kept in contact with the surgeon, paid attention to changes I could have a different outcome. ✌🏻❤️

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