What they say is true, from finding the first tumor during a self exam, to my diagnosis to finishing my entire treatment plan, undergoing multiple surgeries and getting a prescription for the drug that I will take for 10 years; an entire year will have gone by….for some patients it is far longer.
A year of heartache, struggle, crying, asking “why??”, good days and bad days, all of it starting with the words “you have breast cancer, more specifically, “invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2b.” A year of missing time with family and friends, a year of missing and changing plans that had been made in advance, a year of feeling and looking sick.
It is also true that every patient is different. There are so many types of cancer and there are so many factors that go into determining the treatment that is given such as health, age, size of tumors, etc…. I am constantly reminded by my oncologist, and honestly just by looking around the treatment room, that I am young for my type of cancer and I am much healthier than most patients, even with the weight I have gained from the steroids.
My chemo treatment at the hospital starts with weighing in and giving 2 vials of blood. It is important for my oncologist to check specific levels in my blood before sending me down the hall for my chemo treatment. I can’t even count how many times I have been stuck with a needle from the beginning of all of this in late January to now….but during chemo I will have given blood every week, even during my weeks off, from May 23rd to October 3rd, that is 16 treatments in total. Sometimes I am left with a bruise like the one below, but more often than not, you can barely see where the needle went in.
During my first surgery I went from stage 2b to stage 3. My surgeon ended up taking out 18 lymph nodes instead of the 3 to 5 we were expecting, and they all tested positive for cancer, making my cancer not only invasive but aggressive as well, so that is why I am undergoing a more aggressive treatment plan with my oncologist. For the rest of my life I will not be able to have my blood drawn or my blood pressure taken from my left arm due to all of the lymph nodes that were removed. I am also still dealing with numbness on the left side of my breast and under my arm. I am hoping that eventually I will get all of my feeling back, but there is no guarantee.
I am nearing the end of my chemotherapy treatments and I am relieved. I have 3 treatments to go and I am ready for them to be over with. The fatigue has gotten to the point where I can easily be out of breath and having my body ache just going up one flight of stairs in my house. I feel tired all of the time, even after getting a good night of sleep, just tired and worn out. It is so hard to describe but I just don’t feel well most of the time, I don’t feel like me, and I have been this way since last Christmas. Once chemo is over I should start to feel normal in a matter of weeks…..I can’t wait for that to happen!
I will have one month off after my chemotherapy treatments end. During that time my body will start to heal, my hair will start to grow back and the drugs that are still in my system will flush out of me. Once the month is over I will have my reconstruction surgery and my port will also be removed at that time. I will have the same surgeon that did my first two surgeries, Dr. Schwartz. I am scared of the surgery but I am really looking forward to it at the same time! 😁