Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Little Background

In March, I had some pain under my right arm and a knot in my right breast. I was still breastfeeding Annabel and was pretty sure that it was a clogged milk duct. I visited my OB/GYN on March 19th and saw the nurse practitioner. She agreed that it was a clogged milk duct and recommended heat and massage to release the duct. The knot continued to grow even though the pain pretty much went away, so I made another appointment to see the doctor on April 21st. I saw one of the doctors in the group on that visit and he agreed that the lump was sizeable, but assured me that all kinds of things can happen to your breasts while you are breastfeeding. I was breastfeeding more irregularly, so he suggested that this was just some kind of big clog and that if it wasn't released, it would be absorbed into my system. Just to be sure, he recommended that I have an ultrasound. The next available appointment was on May 15th. It all started to go downhill when the ultrasound tech took a look and then had a very alarmed look on her face. The radiologist came in and recommended a mammogram on the spot. After the mammogram, she sat down with me and told me that she needed to do a biopsy to learn more, and the sooner the better. It was a Friday and I was scheduled for the biopsy on Tuesday. The follow-up appointment was on Thursday to check the site and that is when the radiologist told me that I have breast cancer. Since then, I have met with my surgeon and my oncologist and had lots of tests....CT Scan, MRI, EKG, echocardiagram, etc. I also got my hair cut off to get ready for my treatments.

I started chemo on Friday. I will have 8 treatments spaced 3 weeks apart. I am participating in a clinical trial and will be getting the standard chemo treatment plus a new drug call Avastin that shrinks the blood vessels that supply the tumor. The doctors and nurses tell me that participating in the trial will afford me the opportunity to get medication that is above and beyond what is standard to fight my cancer aggressively. An additional perk is that more eyes will be on my info as there are research nurses who will be with me throughout. The hope is that with the chemo, the tumor will shrink/disappear and by the time I have surgery (after chemo), the tumor will be gone and they will just be removing the tissue where the cancer was. I have also consulted with a surgeon who is friends with my sister Karen. He is sharing my info with oncologists he knows, but says that this sounds like a good route.

On Thursday, I had outpatient surgery to have a port installed in my chest. I guess this is pretty common for people in my situation. I won't have to have an IV inserted into my arm for my treatments; they can use the port to hook me up to the drugs and also to take blood. I also had more biopsies for the clinical trial.

I have a few books on breast cancer and have found some good resources online, but I decided a little while ago NOT to read too much just yet. My doctors are well respected and I like them; I have spoken with another surgeon who agrees that this is a good track for treatment. I feel that I am getting good information from them and the nurses. I am all about empowering myself with information, but right now the books and discussion boards are really overwhelming and even though it should technically help, reading mostly makes me more paranoid than I already am. Besides, my sisters are doing all the research! They read and research and pass along what is relevant (or what they think I will hear).

I am so thankful and touched by all of the well wishes and support that I have from friends and family. I appreciate it so much more than you all know! As you might imagine, this has not been very easy to digest. I am trying to keep up with everyone and I keep forgetting who knows what and who I need to call back, so I wanted to find a way to post information so that everyone knows what is going on. There's lots to say, but I wanted to put it out here to let you all know where I am, what I'm doing, how it's going, etc.

Scott's Mom has been a TREMENDOUS help. She has been watching Annabel for us and has already made MANY trips to and from Lavonia. Scott has gone with me to many of my appointments. Annabel is a smart cookie and I'm sure that she knows something is up, but I hope that we will get through all of this before she is old enough to remember.

For now, I am fighting the fight. So far, most days, I feel good. I am lucky to be surrounded by all of my wonderful friends and family!


  1. You are going to get through this with many tears and some humor along the way. You are a stronger person than you realize sometimes, definitely STRONG WILLED, use that to keep you going day by day. Love you.

  2. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Shannon is right, you are stronger than you think and you will get through this! I will be thinking of you!