Breast Cancer

October 3, 2016

After going through a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and numerous other tests, I had an appointment with my oncology surgeon. He didn't beat around the bush at all, he entered the room and said, "Well, you are positive for breast cancer."

Grade 3

Stage 111C
Invasive Ductal-Carcinoma
HER 2-Negative

WTH does all this mean???

He said that I would have chemo, a mastectomy, and then most likely radiation. Although I knew in my heart that this was cancer, even before Dr. Quill said those words to me, it was still quite a shock hearing it confirmed. My head was spinning with so many questions, but the big one was, "AM I GOING TO DIE??"

Dr. Quill said we were going to hit this thing with every weapon available to make sure that we got rid of every cancer cell and to ensure they didn't come back. 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.

By my third visit with the old Red Devil, I had lost 14 pounds, had been dealing with some horrific nausea, acid reflux, and some other pretty nasty side-effects. 

My white blood count remained extremely low during this time also, and I had to have injections to help restore the white blood cells between treatments. 

One week I had to have daily shots. I wasn't allowed to go out or to have visitors for weeks on end because of the threat of infection with the low WBC.

Following the third treatment, my doctor decided to do a follow-up mammogram and ultrasound to see if there had yet been any change to the tumors before proceeding with the 4th treatment. Those tests showed that the primary tumor had decreased in size quite a bit, that the smaller ones were pretty much the same, but that none had increased in size.

It was decided that I should skip the 4th RD treatment and move onto the next phase of chemo.

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


My Favorite Oncology Nurse-Becky!

Next up-the mastectomy. 

I had a modified radical mastectomy. Dr. Quill removed my right breast and 11 lymph nodes. I must say, the mental aspect of the surgery was worse than the physical. 

The worst part was afterward-dealing with the stupid drainage tubes! The bulbs had to be emptied several times a day, and they were positioned so that it was almost impossible for me to reach them.

Thankfully, my sweet hubby did that for me most of the time. 

I did not have reconstruction.

And then came 33 radiation treatments.

This burn sort of looked like a heart, don't ya think??!
Hair is growing back, and the burns are healing!

My crazy radiation folks!!

Again-WE did it!!

I am still dealing with a lot of residual effects from my treatments. Lymphedema is the worst of it right now. I had no idea it would be so painful. Much worse than the pain after the mastectomy. 

Unfortunately, my risk for recurrence is pretty high, so I have to have check-ups and scans frequently.

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