Thursday, October 3, 2019

My Pink-Cancerversary

Three years ago today, 3 days into the month that is known for breast cancer awareness and all things pink, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So, I guess you could call this my "Pink-Cancerversary."

I'm not sure what other people do on such an anniversary (or Pink-Cancerversary?). Personally, I think this is probably not a time to celebrate, but perhaps, instead-a time to reflect??

October 3, 2016

Following a lot of tests and scans, including a diagnostic mammogram, an ultrasound, and biopsy, Ray and I were now sitting in the office of Dr. Stephen Quill, an oncology surgeon. 

Dr. Quill didn't beat around the bush. He entered the room and said, "Well, Pam, you are positive for breast cancer." 

Although I knew in my heart that this was cancer, even before Dr. Quill spoke the words to me, it was still a shock hearing it confirmed. My head was spinning with so many questions.

Dr. Quill said that we were going to hit this thing with every weapon available. We would use the entire arsenal, to make sure that every cancer cell was wiped out and to ensure they didn't come back. He said there would be chemo, surgery, and most likely radiation. He then asked if I was ready to fight.


And a fight it has been!

My treatment plan called for adjuvant chemotherapy in the form of four treatments of a combination of drugs-Doxorubicin and Cytoxin. Doxorubicin was fondly referred to as, "The Red Devil" by the nurses at my cancer center. This was a very accurate description, as I quickly learned!

The plan was for me to receive the "Red Devil" cocktail every other week for a total of four treatments. 

My white blood count dropped and remained extremely low during this time, in spite of the many injections of a drug to help restore my white blood cells between treatments. Following my second treatment, I had been receiving daily doses. I was not allowed to go out or to have visitors for weeks due to the threat of infection.

Between my second and third treatment, I had lost 14 pounds and had begun struggling with some pretty nasty side-effects.

After the third treatment, my doctor ordered a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound to see if there had been any significant change in the tumors. Since the test showed that the primary tumor had decreased in size quite a bit, and the smaller ones were pretty much the same, it was decided that I would skip the 4th RD treatment and move into the next phase of chemo.

The next phase involved weekly chemo treatments for a total of 12. Taxol was not as bad as the old Red Devil but did provide some adverse side-effects of its own. My WBC still remained very low during this phase, so again-HOUSEBOUND!

But at last........


Next, I had a modified radical mastectomy. No reconstruction.

Then came 33 radiation treatments.

My hair had started growing back, and the burns were healing!

This burn sort of looked like a heart, don't ya think??!

My crazy radiation folks!!

Again-WE did it!!

Although I finished with my treatments, life is not back to the way it was before. Because cancer, as most of you probably know, is sort of the gift that keeps on giving. And some of those gifts suck! 

Like lymphedema. Who knew that lymphedema could be more painful than a mastectomy?

Letrozole, the estrogen blocker that I will need for a total of 10 years, has some pretty adverse side-effects.

Neuropathy in my feet and hands can be a pain (like, literally.)

I recently found out that radiation caused some post-radiation fibrosis in my anterior right lung.

And chemo brain. Yes. It is a thing. 

A massive side-effect for me and many others-FINANCIAL DEVASTATION. My family has not recovered from the expenses, and never will in this lifetime. Every time I need a scan, a test, or some other treatment, I am stressed beyond belief. Imagine being told that your cancer may have returned, and you are more worried about the financial aspect than the physical?! Yeah, really sad, but a reality for myself and many others.

Since my risk for recurrence is pretty high, I still have to go through reasonably frequent tests and scans. In fact, this past month, I had a CT scan, ultrasound, biopsy, and PETscan. 

And if I can be totally frank here, having only one boob kinda sucks sometimes too!

Wow! I seriously did NOT intend for this to be a rambling, whining complaining type of post, but's my blog and my Cancerversary, so I guess I can write anything I want! LOL!


As I was taking my early morning walk (and I mean early-to avoid the almost triple-digit temps expected this afternoon!), I did some reflecting on my personal journey with breast cancer.

There have been so many wonderful people who have walked the winding, sometimes very frightening roads of this journey with me. 

Old friends, new friends, longtime running forum friends whom I have never actually met, but who were there for me every step of the way. New cancer survivor friends, especially some from an exceptional group of survivors, called "Circle of Friends." 

And there was my family....could not, would not have survived without them! They are such a blessing!

I have had some great doctors and nurses who have been crucial to my health and well-being throughout this journey.

Although I placed a lot of trust in my medical team, my faith was always in God.
Joshua 1:9 Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your GOD is with you wherever you go.


I don't think I will be celebrating my breast cancer diagnosis today, because let's face it, no matter how you look at it, breast cancer still sucks! 

But I WILL celebrate my abundant blessings! I will celebrate LIFE!

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