If this is your first time to the site I encourage you to visit the About Me page to learn a little bit about who I am, where I’m coming from, and my hopes for this blog.
Before I get into updates and how my body has reacted to chemotherapy, I figured I would start from the top and tell you how this all came about. Actually, before I do that, I need to get this off of my chest… I had hopes of ripping off song titles/lyrics and inserting cancer in them for the title of each blog post. I decided not to continue (because I was having more fun making the titles than actually writing) but I NEED to post them because they bring me so much joy. I’ll include what the post was going to be about for context.
The Breast is Yet to Come (On emotionally healing)
Boob Bi%#H, Get Out The Way (On having lumpectomy/mastectomy)
Last Name In Appointments, First Name Always (Appointment overload)
Chemo Make You Lose Control (Chemo side effects)
When I Think About You, I Touch Myself (Self breast exams)
My Body Too Chemolicious For Ya Babe (Physical appearance)
I Can’t Taste My Food When I’m With You (On loss of appetite)
How Low Can You Go (Depleted blood counts, vitamins, etc)
Can’t Keep My Scans to Myself (Never ending tests)
My Port Scars Bring All The Boys to The Yard (Power port placement)
It’s my Cancer I Can Cry if I Want to (Don’t tell me how to feel)
Cap City, Cap Cap City (Cold caps)
What a Man, What a Man, What a Man, What a Mighty Good Man (Spousal or partner support)
That was totally more for me than it was for you but they really do make me so happy! Next time something has got you taking a trip to suck town, you should try incorporating your demon into a song title. Therapeutic, really.
Now that we’ve gone through the real hard hitting stuff I’ll begin by telling you that so much has happened in the last month that it’s really overwhelming to imagine trying to catch you up in one blog post. To keep this from getting too long I’m going to break it up into two parts- pre and post starting chemo. You’ll also find that some things in this first post are pretty vague. I plan on diving into awareness, things to know if you know someone with cancer, and personal updates after this initial blog post. I actually have an appointment on 6/23 with my medical oncologist at 3:00 so I’ll be able to provide more up to date information after that. For now, here is a little about how this all came about and what life has looked like since about 10:00pm on Wednesday, May 11th.
- Around 10pm on May 11th I randomly (first time I had ever done this) decided to do a self breast exam. When I got to my right breast I immediately felt a ping pong sized knot and called for Nick to come into the room. I burst into tears immediately and I am not kidding when I say, I knew something was wrong. I called my mom (because duh, when you’re upset you call mom) and decided to get into my OBGYN immediately the next day.
- 11am on May 12th I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner who basically felt me up and said “yeah, you should get that looked at immediately”. This was not comforting and was made worse by the fact that they couldn’t get me an ultrasound until the next day. This was Nick and I’s first experience with waiting. We have become familiar with the dread since, and I’ll talk about it more later, but it’s one of the worst parts of the entire process.
- 1pm on May 13th I had my ultrasound and biopsy. It was Friday the 13th and I was like, “are you kidding me?” I had also hit and killed a squirrel (low key cried about it) on the way to work that morning. BAD OMENS, I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. Basically the ultrasound tech could tell I was nervous and kept telling me that I was too young to have breast cancer. When she was done with the ultrasound (which showed what looked like a large cyst in my breast) she got the doctor and he said I definitely needed a biopsy. Unlike the tech, the doctor was not trying to comfort me, he looked worried and he took about 3-4 samples from each wall of the growth. Before I left, the ultrasound tech (who I think had also gotten the scared vibe from the doc) gave me a big hug and said “Don’t lose any sleep and good luck”.
- May 14th-May 17 I was in Plano, TX for a work conference and was scheduled to return to Waco on the 19th. I was told I should get the call with my results on the 19th. Waiting sucks. Waiting especially sucks when you are alone.
- I got a voicemail from an unknown number at 9:47am on May 18th. I was able to leave the conference room and find an empty classroom to call back at 10:23am. The only thing I remember hearing is blah blah blah “unfortunately…” and I immediately knew what was happening. With tears streaming down my face I remember the first two things I said to the nurse- “But I’m getting married in 25 days!!!” (to which she replied “oh sweetie, I’m so sorry, we all know you’re getting married”) and then “How do I tell my mom?!” I eventually made the calls I needed to and Nick left Waco to come to me in Plano.
- I had my first appointment with a surgical oncologist on May 19th. While Nick and I had individually been thinking this would be a simple lumpectomy, the surgeon began throwing out words like chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy. I lost it. I had a panic attack in the room and told my mom, Don, and Nick that I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t listen to anymore and that if I didn’t get out of that stupid little room I was going to suffocate. I think that is when it hit me. It was at this appointment that they told me I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. They explained that it was the most common type of breast cancer. Basically it means that the cancer has formed in a milk duct and it is considered invasive because the tumor has grown outside of the duct and invaded surrounding tissue (more great info here). Unfortunately they were not able to tell me what stage or how aggressive the cancer was, as those results were not in yet.
- For several reasons, I decided to get a second opinion from Texas Oncology in Austin. On May 20th I met with my medical oncologist, Dr. Patt, and learned that I was Stage 2 because of the size of my tumor (more than 2cm). I also learned that my tumor was progesterone negative and estrogen negative. They told me that if it was also HER-2 negative, I would be considered triple negative and that this would mean that my cancer is extremely aggressive and we would have to move fast. Because there was like a 12% chance that I wouldn’t be triple negative, we decided to attack it ASAP.
- The next week was filled with chemo 101 class and other scans. I was able to go on my bachelorette beach trip that weekend where my best friends presented me with a ton of letters they asked my support system to write for me. I have been able to read them all and compile them in a binder I take with me every time I have chemo!
- When I returned from my weekend getaway I was met with more appointments. I had a bone scan, echo cardiogram, labs, and a PICC line placed (the PICC line in my arm was a great option because it meant I could put off port placement until after my wedding). Out of all of the appointments I had, meeting the fertility doctor was the most nerve wracking. I want a child so badly but we found out that because my cancer and treatment are both so aggressive, we did not have time for IVF. We were told we should wait 2 years after chemo to try for children, but since learning more about triple negative cancer, have decided we probably need to wait 5 years (due to the really sucky reoccurrence rate for triple negative cancer). Besides the initial diagnosis, for me, this has probably been the hardest news to swallow.
- The next day, June 1st, I had my first chemo treatment.
I know it’s a lot of information, but let me drop a little more knowledge in your lap.
During the week of tests and scans, the results of my biopsy came back and I found out that I am indeed considered triple negative. Triple Negative breast cancer has it’s own awareness day, it’s own medical trials and research going on, but no one I knew had heard about it. Even the majority of people who were aware that Robin Roberts had cancer didn’t know she was triple negative (I didn’t either). I’d like to post sometime about what it’s like to be triple negative but until then I will leave you with some pretty easy to understand explanations of triple negative breast cancer.
If you have made it to the end, I applaud you. I also thank you for sticking with me through my first ever blog post about a possibly uncomfortable topic for many. I appreciate your support and promise to keep this as up to date as possible.
When I cannot write I’ll ask Nick or Wedge to fill in for me.
As for next time, buckle up for chemopalooza and a new hobby I have- creating finger wigs.