OCTOBER 2011 – Hubby finds a suspicious lump in my breast and we schedule an appointment with the doctor to get it checked out.
NOVEMBER 2011 – Doctor sends me for a mammogram… Which leads to an ultrasound… And then a fine needle biopsy… And finally, a diagnosis of Stage IIB Invasive Ductal Carcinoma breast cancer.
DECEMBER 2011 – My initial diagnosis is changed to Stage IV metastatic disease after a PET scan reveals that the breast cancer has spread to the bone and extensive lymph nodes throughout my arm, chest, and neck.
JANUARY 2012 – Treatment begins. Chemo (Taxotere & Carboplatin) plus Herceptin every week for 12 weeks.
APRIL 2012 – First set of follow-up scans reveals no more cancer in the bone or lymph nodes and miniscule tumors in my left breast. Dr. K says I can take a break from chemo. But I am to continue with the Herceptin (indefinitely) plus add a daily Tamoxifen pill. Next set of scans won’t be for another 4-6 months.
JULY 2012 – After consults with doctors at Memorial Sloan-Kettering in NYC and The Block Center for Integrative Cancer Care in Chicago full left breast mastectomy surgery is recommended to remove the remaining cancer even though breast surgery is not commonly recommended or performed on metastatic patients.
AUGUST 2012 – Next set of scans done. Results show that the cancer is still not in my bones or lymph nodes but has grown and produced a new tumour in my left breast. Because the cancer is still contained in my breast however, surgery will continue as planned.
SEPTEMBER 2012 – Full left mastectomy performed with immediate reconstructive surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan. Recovery is ongoing and involves trips back & forth to NYC every 2 weeks for the next 3-6 months.
OCTOBER 2012 – Diagnosed with a blood clot to the lung (aka: pulmonary embolism – Likely a result of the surgery, my long drive back to Ohio from NYC, the fact that I have a medi-port in my chest, and my medical history as a cancer patient). Taken off Tamoxifen and put on blood thinners for at least 6 months (maybe longer). But continuing with reconstructive surgery plans.
DECEMBER 2012 – I stop taking Herceptin and refuse all estrogen suppressing medicines (Tamoxifen and Arimidex) forging ahead with plans to take a more holistic route of balancing and treating the entire body (with diet, supplements, herbs, exercise, and mental/spiritual work). No more pharmaceuticals!!!
JANUARY 2013 – Final meeting with plastic surgeon in NY. Breast expansion is complete. A total of 400+ cc’s of saline is now in the left breast. Awaiting stabilization of blood clot situation before proceeding with final reconstructive surgery (likely to be done in April 2013).
END OF JANUARY 2013 – Next set of scans completed. Results show only one area of minor concern in the surgery area to keep our eye on that is likely just inflammation or scar tissue from the mastectomy. Otherwise the scans are “clean”! The cancer is gone! What a miracle!
MARCH 2013 – My oncologist actually uses the word “remission” and says I am his miracle patient!!! Coumadin blood thinner is stopped. Hooray!
APRIL 2013 – Back to NYC for breast reconstruction surgery… Left breast – expander removed & saline implant put in… Right breast – reduced and lifted to match. Chemo mediport also removed!
JUNE 2013 – Another blood clot! This time in my upper left arm. Coumadin started again. Hoping it will go away.
AUGUST 2013 – Major swelling and pain in left arm & shoulder area. Suspected that the Coumadin is not working. Blood thinner meds switched to Arixtra.
SEPTEMBER 2013 – PET Scan shows cancer has returned!!! Spreading through lymph nodes of my neck, chest, and underarm. Monitoring tumor marker numbers and pursuing alternative healing approaches.
NOVEMBER 2013 – Tumor markers continue to rise. Pain is becoming intolerable. Swelling in arm determined to be lymphadema resulting from the cancer blocking my lymph system on that side. Ugh! Decision to start chemo again (Taxotere & Herceptin weekly). New chemo port installed into my chest. Here we go again…
DECEMBER 2013 – Life changing trip to Europe. Pain is gone. Deciding to add Perjeta (Pertuzumab) to the chemo regime. Hoping to blast these tumors down to nothing.
MARCH 2014 – PET scan shows cancer is retreating. Tumor markers continue to drop. Intution telling me to stop chemo. So going off Taxotere but will continue (for now) with targeted treatments Herceptin and Perjeta. Returning to more holistic approaches.