Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Beginning

"Oh my God, I have a huge lump in my breast!" My exact words when I probed my right breast to see why it hurt. "Great! Now I'm going to have to deal with serious illness. Shoot! Bummer!" With shaky fingers, I scrolled through my Treo addresses to find the number for my ob/gyn. Got an appointment that day. Was told it was mastitis.

"Unusual, but not unheard of in post-menopausal women," she said. I was given a 10-day supply of antibiotics and a follow-up appointment. "I don't think the lump is cancer," she said.

When I returned for the follow-up appointment, she didn't like the fact the lump was still there. "I think you should go see the breast specialists. I still don't think it's cancer, but they deal with these things everyday."

Two days later, I innocently begin my breast cancer journey. I didn't expect that it was breast cancer, but within five minutes, it was obvious this specialist was very concerned about what she was seeing on the ultrasound. She did a biopsy on the spot. Two days later, I got the call. That was July 1, 2009.

It turns out I have Stage II, Level III triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma. The tumor is 3 cm and appears to be contained to my right breast. However, it is a very aggressive cancer and we couldn't delay treatment. The plan was to shrink the tumor, then try for a lumpectomy. After consulting with a local oncologist and since I live less than 2 hours from Boston, I quickly made an appointment for a second opinion as to treatment. It turned out Boston has a clinical trial drug that I qualified for which was not available to me locally in New Hampshire. I signed on the dotted line and on July 22, I received my first infusion of the trial drug, Avastin, only. On August 5, I received my second infusion, 3 drugs, Adriamycin, Cytoxan and Avastin. It took me five days to recover because I was so new at it all that I mismanaged my nausea medication and ended up constipated, then took too much Senekot and had diarrhea!

And all that brings my journey up to date. My third infusion is tomorrow morning. I have to be in Boston at 6:30 am. Bright and early has its benefits--first to get my IV, blood work and perhaps one of the first ones into an infusion chair! That also means, home early, perhaps as early as lunchtime!

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