My Cancer

Here is an overview of my cancer and where I am in my treatments:

Cancer Type – Two kinds, both very similar, one invasive, one not.  (1) Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer, with spread to lymph nodes) and (2) Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (isolated)

Clinical Stage (initial stage before surgery and chemo, determined through scans and biopsies) – Stage IIB, (later, after surgery, based on the way so many of my lymph nodes were completely destroyed, they thought I was stage III)

Pathological Stage (stage after chemo, determined through pathology from surgery) – Stage I

Hormone Receptor Status – estrogen receptor positive / progesterone receptor negative (see hormone receptors page for more info)

HER2 status – HER2 positive (higher risk for spread/ faster growth) (see Herceptin and HER2 pages)

Tumor Grade – 3 (the worst out of 3 grades)

Timeline:

  • July 2008 – I found a lump in my right breast, immediately following a cosmetic surgery procedure.  My cosmetic surgeon told me it was nothing to worry about – it was just my implant.
  • Friday, February 13, 2009 – I learned I was pregnant and another lump appeared in my armpit within a few days.  My gynecologist told me it was hormonal from the pregnancy and not to worry about it.
  • Two weeks later – Miscarriage.  I asked my gynecologist why the lump in my armpit was still there since it was “hormonal”.  He said it may take some time to go away and reassured me not to worry.
  • March 10, 2009 – I watched a Dr. Oz medical mistakes show on Oprah.  It was about medical mistakes and made me question my doctor’s opinions.  Shortly thereafter, I called my doctor to insist on a mammogram.
  • March 17, 2009 – Mammogram/Ultrasound Appointment.  I learned it was probably cancer that day at my appointment.  I was by myself and immediately called my mom and Dan.  They scheduled my biopsies for the next available appt.
  • Days following – Lots of worry and research.
  • Friday, March 20, 2009 – I had my biopsies and scheduled my breast surgeon consultation for the following week, since the lumps (now known as “tumors”) would need to be removed either way.
  • March 24, 2009 (the day before my 31st birthday) – I arrived at Carolina’s Surgical Clinic and was at the time still waiting to hear the results from my biopsies, which I was supposed to receive in time for my surgical consultation.  The results came by phone while I was in the waiting room.  It was confirmed.  I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.  All 5 biopsy sites (12 biopsies in all) tested positive for cancer.
  • March 25, 2009 – I spent the last few hours of my 31st birthday at University Hospital having a CT scan (another malignant lymph node was found). 
  • Days following – Bone scan (came back clear), Heart Echo Test (one of the drugs I’d be taking can cause heart damage so they perform an echocardiogram so they’d have a baseline for monitoring purposes)
  • Genetic Counseling – I underwent genetic testing.  I didn’t have any BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations that had a known link with breast cancer but I did have a mutation and it wasn’t one that had a known non-link either.  I am one of 4 people in the history of the genetic testing that have this same mutation.  They have me on file in their research records and will keep me posted as I learn more.  If you have a gene mutation, they often recommend more radical surgeries, including a hysterectomy. 
  • April 1, 2009 – first day of chemo (6 rounds in all, every three weeks until the last one on July 15, 2009); also first day of Herceptin, another IV drug which I’ll continue to get every 3 weeks until April 2010 (I received this drug weekly though during the big chemos.
  • August 10, 2009 – surgery (lumpectomy and axillary lymph node dissection)
  • September 21, 2009 – first day of radiation (every business day for 33 treatments, about 6-7 weeks)
  • November 4, 2009 – last day of radiation (to be followed by Herceptin every 3 weeks until April 2010 and daily Tomaxifen estrogen blocking pills for 5 years)
  • March 24, 2010 – Last day of Herceptin (52 weeks after my first) / Mammogram test – came back clear (will continue to have mammograms and MRIs every 3 months for 2 years, every 4 months for the 3rd year, and every 6 months after that for 8 years).
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