Cure Magazine

Early on in my breast cancer journey I heard about a free magazine for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers called “cure.” I received my first issue around the time I had my 2nd chemo treatment in early June and I found this magazine to be so helpful in understanding more about cancer. Today I received this issue and I wish I had this early on….there is some great information in this issue for newly diagnosed cancer patients.

Please don’t get me wrong, all three of my doctors are amazing and have always taken the time to listen to me and answer all of my questions, but sometimes extra information can be helpful as well. I try not to flood myself with too much information as it can be depressing, confusing and it can make everything even more overwhelming than it already is.

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My Support System

Mood: Grateful πŸ™‚

Every cancer patient needs a good support system. I am very blessed to have many different moving parts to mine, and I feel that it is time to give them credit in not only helping me through my journey, but also being a constant in my life since I had the difficult task of telling them about my breast cancer.

God: I have cursed him, screamed at him asking “why?” but my faith has not wavered. I may not understand why I have breast cancer but I know that God has always protected me in my life and will continue to do so as long as I am alive.

Matt {my husband}: Sadly I have read many stories about cancer patients being abandoned by their spouse, boyfriend, partner, etc… I get it, caring for someone going through such a difficult journey is not easy. You need to not only be strong for your loved one, but also for yourself. This is a long journey that lasts for well over a year with constant ups and downs, doctors appointments, surgeries and treatments and my husband has been by my side for all of it….I am so blessed to have him in my life! I will never be able to thank him enough for everything he has done for me during this terrible time. I love you so much sweetie!

My Dad & Brother: I do not have any family where my husband and I live. My Dad is in the Midwest where I grew up and my brother lives in Japan. Even though I do not have either of them near me, we talk often either on the phone, via email or messenger. I keep them updated on what is going on with me both good and bad. I know they wish they could do more for me but honestly just listening to me when I need them is beyond valuable to me. I love you both so much!

My Friends: I can’t possibly mention everyone so I will just discuss how various friends have been there for me since telling them about my diagnosis. I sent private messages to my closest friends on messenger to tell them the news. It was hard telling them, but it was the right thing for me to do. I didn’t want them finding out via Facebook once I was brave enough to post about what was happening, I love and respect my friends too much to have them find out that way. Almost all of them started asking me questions and checking on me here and there which I really appreciated. You never know how people will react when you tell them such terrible news but I have received nothing but love and support. Once I posted the news on Facebook I discovered that some of the women I know either online or in real life are either fighting breast cancer currently, just got diagnosed or have been through it in the past. It has been so helpful to me to talk with other women that understand what I am going through and so rewarding for me to have other patients thank me for being so open and honest in this blog. For me to make a difference in someone’s life is a blessing that I never expected, so thank you Linda for suggesting that I write this blog.

My Doctors: I am active on a few different apps for cancer patients and it is a double edged sword at times. One of the sad things I have noticed is the poor care that some patients receive from their doctors. Reading about doctors yelling at cancer patients, surgeons leaving large horrible scars on a woman’s chest and leaving patients with more questions than answers is horrible and terrifying. After reading of such horrors and seeing pictures as evidence, I have no doubt in my mind that I have been blessed with the best doctors to care for me and help me through my journey. I have three doctors, an amazing surgeon who is also a breast specialist so he has done all of my surgeries and has been with me from the beginning, an oncologist and a radiation oncologist. My surgeon reffered me to my oncologist, who reffered me to my radiation oncologist. My doctors work very closely together and I absolutely trust them to do what is best for me as we fight breast cancer together….they are my team and they fighting right along side of me! I will never be able to thank them enough for everything they have done for me and are continuing to do as my journey is not over yet.

My Hospital: All of my doctors are near or on the Gwinnett Medical Center campus. There is one building in particular where I have spent most of my time in from the beginning of this journey. In that building I have my surgeon, the surgery center where I had reconstructive surgery, my oncologist, the room where I had 16 chemotherapy treatments, the breast center where my wires were placed for my cancer surgery, the cancer support center and there is a rep for the American Cancer Society located there as well. The cancer support center in particular has been so helpful. I was assigned a breast nurse navigator who has been with me from my first appointment with my surgeon to present day. I told her how terrified I was of my first surgery as I had never had one before. I was shocked when she showed up at the hospital the morning of my surgery to bring me a bag of goodies and sit with me for awhile. I was crying alone in a waiting room when she showed up, I was so scared. My husband was not allowed to come back and see me yet so being alone and being terrified was just too much for me….thank God she showed up when she did. So now it is 10 months later and she stills calls to check on me and see if I need any help with anything, if I need to contact any of the many resources her office offers or just need to talk….I am so grateful for her! It is a shame that more hospitals do not offer such an excellent resource!

I have many people to be so thankful for, and I truly believe that it has made all of the difference in my journey! Love you all! πŸ’•

Biopsy

February 26th, 2019

Mood: Worried πŸ˜₯

The biopsy was uncomfortable and at times painful, but Dr. Schwartz told me everything that he was doing step by step. He had a mini ultrasound machine that he used himself, not his assistant.

As he was working to find each mass he told me that I have 3 masses, 1 in my breast and 2 in my lymph nodes. He is very concerned with one of the masses that is in one of my lymph nodes and he had a hard time getting to it.

Once he was done with the biopsy he looked at Matt and I and said, “this is cancer”. I was once again stunned even though he said what I already knew, but now I am hearing the C word and things were getting so serious very quickly. The biopsy results will tell us what type and stage.

Now he is talking about surgery and chemotherapy. Chemotherapy before surgery, but still not sure without the results in hand. The results will be back by Thursday of this week.

Breast Cancer Specialist

February 25th, 2019

Mood: Anxious πŸ™„

I had my consultation with my new doctor and surgeon…Dr. Schwartz at Gwinnett Medical Center today. I can’t even tell you how scared I am to have to go through this next step. I looked up Dr. Schwartz online and his credentials are very impressive. He is the only breast specialist in Gwinnett county.

He did a quick ultrasound and said I needed to come back the next day for a biopsy. He talked about surgery and radiation but he isn’t sure if that will be the case and we won’t know until the biopsy results are back.

MRI Imaging Appointment

February 12th, 2019

Mood: Anxious 😟

So the nonexistent snow storm had my imaging appointment rescheduled twice. The pattern of everything taking so long is really going to set in now and it has been one of the many difficult things to deal with through this journey. I am not a patient person and I always have to at least feel like I am in control, but I am about to discover that I have no control at all, at least over time.

I am sorry to say that I have never had a mammogram before now. I thought that the starting age was 50, not 40. When I had my annual checkup a few years ago I don’t remember my doctors office saying anything about needing one. Looking back I am sure they said something but I probably ignored them because of all of the terrible stories you hear. Now I am being told that I have to have one so my anxiety is through the roof.

The mammogram was not nearly as bad as I expected it to be. The tech was very nice and told me everything that she was doing step by step so I would not have any surprises. She asked me to do exactly what she was telling me and it wouldn’t be so bad and scary as I had imagined…and she was right….the pain was minimal.

The Ultrasound was easy but she scared me because she went over to my lymph nodes and took a lot of images. It was then that I knew I most likely had cancer. As I tend to do, I had already looked up symptoms and information online so I was starting to get a good idea of what I could be dealing with.

The results should be at my doctor’s office in 24 hours…

It’s Time to See My Doctor

February 1st, 2019

Mood: Scared 😒

Before Matt and I got married I had a small lump that I found during a self exam. I went to my gynecologist to see what it was not really knowing what to expect. I was too young to get a mammogram but she felt strongly that it was just a cyst and it would disappear on its own and it did. All of these years later I am facing the same problem but it is different this time. There is something hard next to the small lump and my skin has sunken in a little on the surface of my breast.

I went to see my doctor and she confirmed that there is reason to be concerned about the lump I found. Now we need images so we can see what this lump is exactly.

So, my doctor referred me to MRI Imaging to have a Mammogram and an Ultrasound done as she agreed that the lump needs further examination.

This my greatest fear…Cancer…