BUZZ FROM THE HIVE: BREAST CANCER IS NOT FOR WIMPS…

Posted on September 2, 2012. Filed under: Buzz From The Hive..., Health and Wellness..., Informational..., Uncategorized... | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I haven’t blogged in a long time, and I truly miss “talking” with you.  I apologize for the long post here, but there is so much I would like to share with all of you so please bear with me.  Thank you…

The past few years have been tumultuous for me and my husband, and last year was even more so.  Towards the middle of last year after a few medical misfortunes, I decided that I didn’t want to go to see any more doctors—I was through!  It seems like every time I saw a doctor, I’d come out worse than when I went in, so I decided I was going to forego my yearly mammogram.  A couple of months later, I received a call from the hospital where I got my mammograms.  They told me I’d have to go to a new state-of-the-art Women’s Health Center for my next mammogram, but they had to reschedule it.  I told them I didn’t want to go, and that I never made an appointment.  The lady on the other end of the line said I made it last year, but that she would take me off the list—then she asked if I really wanted to do that.  It was then that I said, “Maybe this is an omen.  When do you want to reschedule it?”

Little did I know it was an omen…

I reluctantly went for my yearly mammogram at this new facility for the first time, and stared in quiet concern when I pulled up in front of the new breast center—my car’s odometer read 66,666 miles, I kid you not!  I remember saying, “This can’t be good”, and unfortunately, it wasn’t…

I tried to think nothing of “those numbers” until my PCP called me a couple of nights later—at 7 PM—to ask if I heard from the women’s center.  My heart skipped a beat when she said I had to go in for a second mammogram on one breast along with an ultrasound because “it wasn’t clear enough”.

When I went in for my second mammogram and ultrasound, I tried to use humor to overcome my fear.  As the technologist “positioned me for my close-up”, I asked her to make sure she got my “best side”, but she didn’t laugh. When we were walking toward the ultrasound room, I noticed a male doctor (radiologist) following us, and I turned and said that “there was a stalker following us”, but they didn’t laugh.  When the radiologist turned and closed the door behind him, I looked at him and said, “This doesn’t look good”.  He then said very matter-of-factly, “It isn’t.  You have invasive breast cancer”.  I was shocked beyond belief.  I felt like I was staring death in the face at that very moment, but I had nowhere to hide and I couldn’t move.  I asked him how he could know without the ultrasound, and he said, “I just know”.  The radiologist also took five biopsies of the tumor and inserted a steel ball so the breast surgeon would know where the tumor was.  I’ll spare you the rest of the horrible, horrible details of that day, but suffice it to say, towards the end of last year, the pathology report showed I had Invasive Moderately Differentiated Ductal Carcinoma, and not only that, I was also HER2 Positive as well, which is the most aggressive form of breast cancer.

When I tell you I was a walking zombie for a couple of weeks or more, it would be an understatement.  If it wasn’t for my wonderful husband, I would have walked into a lot of walls, aimlessly.  I take such good care of myself, I eat right, but I didn’t dodge this bullet.  I just don’t get it.  Family and friends have been so supportive—with cards, calls, texts, emails—that have been like strong medicine for both me and my husband.  I guess I should have expected it, though, because I have two sisters who were diagnosed at an early age.  Thank God, they are breast cancer survivors today.  We have an aunt who passed from the disease when it metastasized in 2006, may God rest her soul.  I was so diligent in doing all the right things to stay healthy because of my family’s history so this was an absolute shock.

Since my diagnosis, my life (and my husband’s as well) had been upside down for such a long time because of some roadblocks along the way.  It was then that I didn’t want to sweat the small stuff anymore—nothing was worth complaining about.  This was so much bigger than all the small annoyances we go through on a daily basis.  When I see people fighting because things don’t go their way, I want to go up and shake some sense into all of them and tell them that it could be a whole lot worse—they could be fighting breast cancer.

After I went through my lumpectomy, I was absolutely thrilled!  The operation was behind me, and I could now heal.  As with most women, one breast is slightly bigger than the other, and after my lumpectomy, they were both the same size!  I was overjoyed.  I went to my husband, jiggled my girls, and said, “Look honey, my girls are twins now!”  He smiled because it was a little joy out of a horrible nightmare.  I was happily looking forward to life without breast cancer, and concentrating on the healing process.

That joy was short-lived, though, because when the pathology report came back after the lumpectomy, there was a lot more cancer (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ) so I had to undergo a double mastectomy with a Tram Flap Reconstruction before the best time of year for me—Christmas.  I had to fight as hard as I could so I’d be able to enjoy my life with my wonderful husband, family and friends.  I was glad it happened around this time because it’s my favorite time of year.

My breast surgeon just wanted to take the one breast that was affected, but I fought to have them both removed.  As far as I was concerned, I didn’t want to revisit this horrible nightmare down the road.  She reluctantly agreed to a bilateral (double) mastectomy.  When the pathology report came back from my other breast, she told me it was a good call on my part because the tissue showed abnormal cells so she said I did the right thing and now I’m cancer free.  I asked her to repeat that statement because it was music to my weary ears.

It was Stage 1 invasive breast cancer, thank God Almighty, and when I asked if I had to go through chemo, my oncologist said, “No, but I recommend it, along with Herceptin” which are both administered intravenously.  I turned around and said, “If I don’t need it, I don’t want it”.  I was put on an anti-estrogen drug, but because of the severe side effects I was experiencing, my oncologist took me off.  My body is super sensitive to anything bad so I know my body would not have tolerated the Herceptin either.  I did make the right call last year because this is what came out just a couple of days ago…

Breast Cancer Drug May Harm the Heart More Than Thought

Breast cancer survivors may face second threat: heart failure

I’m younger than the patients in these stories, but I knew this drug would be too toxic for my body.  I feel I made the right decision last year, and turns out, I did, after reading these recent articles.  It’s almost like I have a sixth sense when it comes to health.  Some women who have been through chemo and Herceptin sing its praises so I guess it’s a personal preference.  Don’t do what I did because of what I posted here, follow your own doctor and your own heart…MY WEB SITE DISCLAIMER…

On Christmas Eve, which was about 2-3 weeks after my second surgery, my husband had to rush me to a local ER because my legs were so swollen with fluid.  It was feared that I had blood clots so they tested me, and the ultrasound for deep vein thrombosis was excruciatingly painful!  They found that my veins were perfect—I was severely anemic due to the operation so I had to eat lots of foods high in iron and take high doses of iron pills.  Now I know why I was so sick and always falling asleep, even while talking on the phone.  I was released on Christmas Day.  Last Christmas was the most horrible, devastating Christmas of my life, and my husband’s as well!  The only comfort I received was in remembering that it was the day Jesus Christ was born.

I have to undergo another surgery, and then that will be the end of it.  I have a great plastic surgeon so I know I’m in good hands; I’m confident because I’m in God’s hands as well.  Is the cancer gone from my body?  I pray that it is!  I believe my prognosis is good because of the vitamins I take and the foods that I eat (I will post these in the future).  Yes, the odds were against me because of my family history, but I truly believe it ended up being better than I could have hoped because of how I treat my body.  I also try and focus on the positive—that it was a small tumor and they found it in a mammogram—a mammogram that I didn’t even want to take.  That was a blessing from God, for sure.  I did monthly self-exams of “my girls”, but I didn’t feel anything…it was that small.  I do thank God every day for blessing me with…the courage to get through this ordeal, the love of a good man, and loving family and friends that make all this a whole lot easier to deal with.

I have found that while some women are not willing to talk openly about their breast cancer, I’m among those who think it’s good therapy to talk openly about it.  It makes me feel I have power over it, and not the other way around.  I talk about it because it helps me to heal emotionally, physically and spiritually.  There are so many women being diagnosed with this disease that I find it hard to believe there’s not a cure, with all the medical advances and cutting-edge technology we have today.  Medical hospitals set up all these state-of-the-art breast cancer centers all over the country to treat the disease, yet there are no cures.  It makes me want to scream, “The heck with the treatment—where’s the CURE!  Come to think of it, it would be a great slogan for a tee shirt, wouldn’t it???

What I’ve learned through all this horror is that breast cancer is certainly not for wimps, I assure you!  I have enormous respect for breast cancer survivors (which include my two beautiful sisters), and I have faith that I will be a survivor along with them.  I pray to Almighty God that you and your loved ones never EVER have to go through this in your lifetime…

I recently marked my one year anniversary of my diagnosis, and my husband and I celebrated with a great dinner and lots of laughs.  Life is certainly worth celebrating, isn’t it?  I have a strong faith, and I know God will help me fight this horrible disease, and that there will be a very positive outcome—my husband and I expect nothing less…

Lovingly,

QueenBee

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