Breast Cancer Survivor

allaboutheart
Breast Cancer Survivor

Breast cancer survivors love to talk about their treatments, so please bear with me. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 1995. A mammogram showed calcifications in the ductile system of the lower half of my right breast. I had a fibrous right breast for several years and was conscientious about getting annual mammograms. I was sent to a surgeon for a biopsy and was reassured that there was very little chance that it would be malignant, but it was! He recommended a mastectomy since the entire lower half of the breast was involved and reassured me that it was almost certainly ductal carcinoma in situ and had not spread out of the ducts of the breast to the lymph system, but it had!

They removed and examined 12 lymph nodes and only found two malignant cells in the lymph node closest to the breast. A panel of seven oncologists decided that I did not need chemotherapy or radiation since no tumor was found and it appeared that the cancer had just entered the lymph system. They were quite sure they had removed the only affected node. Since the cancer tested positive for estrogen, it was decided to treat me with Tamoxifen to prevent the slight chance that it might reoccur, but it did!

In December of 1997, a blood test showed that the cancer was active. Scans found it in my right clavicle lymph node, in several abdominal nodes, and in the spine. A biopsy showed that it was breast cancer that had metastasized. I began chemotherapy shortly thereafter and have continued weekly treatments ever since. I have had combinations of eight chemotherapies (including, Adriamycin, Taxol, Taxotare, Gemzar, and Navelbine), two complete rounds of radiation (spine and brain), three hormone treatments (Arimidex, Femara and Tamoxifen), and monthly infusions of Aridea to strengthen my bones. Most of my treatments are in six-month schedules with short breaks in between.

I always plan a wonderful trip during these breaks. As a breast cancer survivor, it is important to have something to look forward to. During the first break, we took an eleven-day Hawaiian cruise. (It was the first time my husband, Bob, had been on a ship since he was in the Navy in World War II, and he loved it!) During the next break, we went on a cruise to Greece and Turkey following in the footsteps of the apostle Paul. On our last trip, we went to Israel – what a blessing!

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One in three Americans will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime, which is why we all know someone who has had it, if we have not had it ourselves. I’d like to share my story with you about how I’ve found peace and joy as a breast cancer survivor. And I hope that what I have learned will help you cope with the trials in your life, reach out to someone going through cancer, or maybe even change your life altogether.

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