Round 2… Kicking Cancers Butt!!

While the many questions I have regarding “what comes next” have yet to be answered. There is one answer I know for sure. I once again have breast cancer.

It was only yesterday when I received the call confirming my greatest fear. Same breast and same type of cancer. “High Grade Ductal Carcinoma in SITU.” The fact that it’s in SITU is great because it means it’s in it’s early stages. Nevertheless, it’s been an exhausting 24 hours as you can imagine. No matter how busy I’ve been at work and with my personal life, it’s a topic I find hard not to think about. Just the thought of another surgery makes my stomach churn.

Life was going so well you know? I had just received a promotion and been accepted into the mentorship program I had applied for. It frustrated me more than anything how intrusive this disease has always been. Not that it’s something you are ever ready for. It’s just always taken place during a time in my life where major changes are occurring making it so difficult to enjoy those special moments.

I wasn’t even sure if writing about this now was the right thing to do but, my goal was to write about the good and the bad. It’s about my life, my take on it and my hopes of helping others that have or are sharing my journey. So if you are going through your own personal journey, know that I am here. We are sharing this moment together and together we will pull through this. We are going to Kick Cancers Butt!!!

Stay tuned…

Elizabeth โค

Time for another biopsy…

It’s been almost 2 months now that I’ve had a new pain in my left breast and I finally made mention of it to my physicians when I saw them just a few weeks ago for my regular follow up appointment.

Naturally, my doctors suggested I follow up with some testing so they began by ordering an ultrasound. During this particular ultrasound, I could see the “what is that?” look on the technicians face and already knew there was more testing to come. Sure enough, I was told I needed to follow up with a bilateral MRI. Like my oncologist, The physician that read my ultrasound wasn’t convinced I had anything to worry about, but she wanted to make sure we played it safe anyway.

Having already been diagnosed with cancer once before, every pain to me was a possibility of it coming back and it drove me nuts. ย I knew that I was still experiencing some of the post-surgical discomforts and effects from the radiation but it was hard to really draw a line and say ,” this is normal and this is not”.ย I was trying hard to stay positive but, I can’t deny it scared the crap out of me.

This past Saturday, I headed to the other coast to have my additional testing done and today I received the results I had been waiting for. While my radiation oncologists feels I have nothing to really worry about, he recommended that I have aย biopsy done to confirm his thoughts. In a nut shell, he feels pretty confident that the changes in my breast are from the radiation treatment versus my fear of the cancer returning.

In my heart I feel all will be okay but I can honestly say I will feel more at peace after having the biopsy done and knowing for sure.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming together as a community…

Good morning everyone! I have a huge favor to ask of you all. Someone I hold very near and dear to my heart has been asked to have a biopsy done, after finding a mass on her mammogram and ultrasound results. Would you please include her in your thoughts and prayers?

My wish for her is that the results come back negative, and that this simply be an opportunity for us to come together again as a community, to support one another just like you’ve all supported me. Her name is Josefina. Thank you so much and I wish you all a very blessed day.

With endless gratitude,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

My 2 weeks of recovery…

I woke up the following day after surgery feeling like a train wreck. I wasn’t in extreme pain but I was exhausted and still drowsy from my medications. I was actually able to get around pretty well. I’d say the only surprise I had that day was the blue urine I had as a result of a dye called Lymphazurin used during my surgery to help locate my sentinel node. I was a smurf for the day, no problem! ๐Ÿ™‚

All was going well until a few days after surgery when I finally made the decision to stop my pain medications. I couldn’t take it anymore. They were making me nauseas, constipated, bloated and I was gaining a substantial amount of weight. Within just a few days I had gained about 10lbs. I felt horrible and it had nothing to do with vanity. I just felt like I was accumulating everything and releasing nothing resulting in my body feeling like a toxic dump.ย It took several days before my body began to regulate itself and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable but, the pain I felt from not taking my medications was well worth feeling more like myself again.

My surgeon called me within the first week to see how I was feeling and to report his findings. I explained what I had been going through and he reassured me it was normal. Till this day I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better surgeon. He kept me informed of his thoughts every step of the way and it made me feel like I too had a say in what was happening. That’s a big deal to anyone let alone an ex control freak like myself. I wanted to be involved in everything no matter how big or small it seemed to anyone else. It was my body and I had the right to know what was going to happen to it.

He made mentioned that after the biopsy of my sentinel node they observed the cells carefully to see if the cancer had spread and, to his surprise he found 1 lymph node positive for a single cluster (5-6 cells) of individual tumor cells. Since it was such a small count he removed only a few lymph nodes but needless to say it was something to consider when I sat down with my oncologist to discuss my treatment plan.

You can only imagine how I translated this in my head. “Why is he so calm? I was told the cancer was incapsulated. If it was, how did any of it, even the tiniest bit, spread to the lymph nodes? Wouldn’t it have been better to just remove them all?” I was scared and no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t understand how that wasn’t a big deal. My surgeon reassured me and helped put me at ease.

I later received a separate phone call with the news about my PET/CT scan. There was an area of concern in my right pelvis. “What?” I began to have flashbacks of the times my gynecologist suggested I have an ultrasound to keep an eye on the cysts I was developing. Prior to surgery we had talked about the correlation between breast cancer and cervical or ovarian cancer but, I wanted to believe that since I found my breast cancer on time, it wouldn’t have had the chance to spread elsewhere. However, regardless of what I thought, we had to be certain so I was scheduled for a CT scan immediately.

My family and closes friends were concerned. I hadn’t even finished recovering from my surgery and they weren’t sure if I could handle this or even be up to doing more tests. In all honesty, I wasn’t. I was afraid to know that I could have been wrong and that the cancer may have spread. That would have been the second thing I let go by. How could I live with myself? Than again, how could I live with myself now delaying something so important? If indeed there was cancer, waiting wasn’t going to change that and could potentially make it worse.

I wasn’t cleared to drive yet and since my mom and I worked in the same office we weren’t able to be off at the same time. This again was the perfect example of the importance of a solid support system. Without any hesitation my bosses wife told me she would be picking me up and accompanying me to my appointment. In fact, when the day came, she even sat in the room with me while I had my scan done to make sure they had me in a comfortable position and that I didn’t feel alone.

Between the many beautiful cards filled with words of love, prayer and encouragement, the beautiful bouquets of flowers and edible arrangements and the occasional house visits, I had all of the support anyone could ever wish for. There was still a long journey ahead but I wasn’t going to be alone. I was reminded of that again within those few weeks of recovery and it gave me the strength I needed to continue…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚

*** Note to reader ***

Be sure to check out my photos tab to see pictures of me taken during my recover. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tests, tests, and more tests…

After having my mammogram and ultrasound done I was scheduled for an MRI on November 1st followed by an ultrasound guided needle biopsy on November 6th. I was told that the results of the biopsy would be the determining factor as to whether or not I had breast cancer but, once the results of the MRI came back it appeared everyone was already convinced.

I remember getting the call while visiting my partner on the other coast. It was one of the most difficult calls of my life. I tried with everything in me to hold back my tears but once I hung up I completely broke down. Not only were we discussing the possibility of my having cancer, now we were discussing the possibility of my needing to have a mastectomy. It went from one extreme to the next.

That weekend I spent it reflecting on all of the things I had done in my life and most importantly all of the things I hadn’t. In that moment I told myself that once I got through this I was going to dream big and go for those dreams. I also needed to find balance in my life. I was stressing far to much about the things that just didn’t matter.

Later the following week I went in for my ultrasound guided needle biopsy. I was a little scared about this appointment. I’ve always had a pretty high tolerance for pain but, let’s face it, who wouldn’t fear someone putting a needle into their breast. The thought alone was painful after the testing that had already been done and had left my breast tender. I didn’t want anyone or anything near my breast.

They called me back into the room and had me change into a beautiful designer blouse. Actually, it was a scrub top that criss-crossed in the front for easy access but, in the effort of making a small part of this seem luxurious, I will refer to it as designer blouse. ๐Ÿ˜‰ My mom and my partner waited patiently outside when they brought me back into the exam room to start my test. Here is where the luxury ended.

They began prepping me for the test by disinfecting the area and, once the doctor came in, they started injecting my left breast with a numbing agent. The pain was worse then I had imagined and for the first time in my life I cried on an exam table. With each pinch of the needle my eyes and fists tightened. The tears flowed until I could no longer feel the needles. Once I got the courage to open my eyes I watched as they took samples of the tissue and tagged the tumor with a clip. It was fascinating to see it all being done on the screen in front of me. So much that the vacuum like sounds of the machine and the voices of the technician, doctor and nurse were drowned out for that brief moment. All I could do is stare at the movement of the needle and at the tumor that was just sitting there looking so harmless.

The test finally came to an end and I was off to breakfast and back home to rest. In the days that followed I was scheduled to sit with a surgeon and to have a PET scan done. There was so much going on and I needed that afternoon to rest and get myself organized. If indeed this was cancer and I was going to need surgery, I needed to have my personal matters in order. For now however, it was time to rest and wait…

Stay tuned,
Elizabeth ๐Ÿ™‚