April 1, 2009, I was diagnosed with my 1st breast cancer... Wasn't prepared for it. I had been getting my Mammy's every year since I turned 60. There was no history of BC in my family, that I was aware of... I had a modified Mas on Earth Day (April 22)...Started all the normal "Treatments"-- Had a 2 x a day radiation for a week....Then on to Chemo for one chemo for 8 hrs every 21 days, followed my a neulasta shot... 5 treatments, then we were to go back to radiation from 18 Aug to Sept 28th...From 8/17-8/24 I had started having a problem with an area where the drain had been for the Modified Mas... By the 24th both the my radiologist and surgeon had tried to aspirate the bump. Once the surgeon tried and failed, he decided that I needed to be admitted to the hospital, 1st thing in the morning... I had surgery and was bound back up. It was difficult time...They removed some parts of the what had been so painful. 8/28 I get a call from my Surgeon and told me that I had another cancer...which had never been recorded before, while in treatment for another. Since I still had an appt with Oncologist for 9/2 might has well keep it. After the call, I finally broke down and sobbed...something I am not known for. I had a tough time controlling myself...I had just placed my husband in assisted living, end stage of Alzhiemers... He never knew I had Cancer...didn't even know who I was. Finally by the end of the day, I had come to grips with it...Went about my business for the next few days, trying to get all my obligations completed...which included taking my mother to her Dr. Appts. BTW, I was still driving...couldn't sleep in my bed, but could sleep in a recliner.
9/2 came and I had my niece go to the Dr. with me. He stated that had never been a documented case of two active cancers at the same time. I made history. My surgery was set up for 9/15...Bilateral Mastectomy...Double Drains. Between 9/2 and 9/15 I ran my household, Dr appts for other in my family, personal and organization banking, grocery shopping for two families...Not even aware of what I was doing, most of the time. Still did the cooking and laundry. I would have to sleep in recliner for the next 6 weeks...I couldn't pop the handle, so my daughter (who is deaf), slept in the other next to me...if I needed to get up, I would squeeze her had and she would pop it for me. We worked as a team on this. Had a problem with the drains...went though 4x4's like water... Drains were leaking pretty bad, finally on the 21st they were removed. Gotta say, it was quit painful; I was not known for fainting, either. When I told the DR I was seeing shooting stars and gray, he handed me a small bottle of cold water, told me to drink it. It worked, I didn't faint. He said it was a good call for the removal of the tumor, there was cancer cells every where. The staple would not come out 1st part of the following week.
My niece wanted to know what we would do the staples...I thought it would be great to make jewelry...Lots of pain, but going away. By the 28th, it was time to remove the staples...As they were popping all over the office...My remark was "so much for jewelry"...My niece and Dr. laughed. A few days. I was back to doing my normal chores, except sleeping in bed.
My Pastor, friends and some family would come by to see if I was okay. My daughter continued to take her daily short walk to the Assisted Living home where my husband was slowly slipping away....I think he thought she was one of the workers. 10/7 at 2:00 a.m. I received the call that my husband had pasted away. The owner of the Home came over to stay with me while we watched the Funeral Home come to take him away. Didn't want to wake my Mom or my daughter until morning. I had to go on as life does, keeping appts and going about what I had to do. Had to call his family members with the sad news...In MO and a son in Glendale. Then I told my family and had to comfort them...Then called my Pastor to come comfort me. 10/10 We set up a quick wake... Surprised at how many came. It was lovely...a lot of food. Pastor gave a great program.
In the meantime, I would be starting Chemo, 10/19. Another 4. We were not sure about radiation. 11/9, 11/30, 12/28. Forgot to mention, I went to Paris, France Dec 8-22...My lady friend and I had made reservations to attend a wedding in February 2009... Airline would not refund money no matter the reason...so, I asked my Dr about going... he said I would have to be caught up on shots and they would take a blood draw to make sure my blood looked good. They had my cell phone number and if it were bad, I would not be able go...so, I waited in NH for the call that never came. We went and while I didn't feel the greatest, we had a great time. I came home sick and would have my last blood draw on the 12/24...and Chemo the 12/28...
Diagnosis 1: Right Breast: Invasive ductal carcinoma. Nuclear grade: 3; Surgery 4/22/2009.
Diagnosis 2: Right Breast biopsy: High Grade carcinoma (3.0 cm), with necrosis, involving skin and underlying fibroadipose tissue, focally to resection margin. Date Reported" 8/27/2009
by March of 2010, I was pretty much back to myself, sans any idea of having reconstructive surgery. At my age, who cares and what is the point. My PCP suggested that I "get of out Dodge for the hot summers and learn to live, again." So I did. found a partner and traveled 40K miles in 4 years RVing for the summers.
This year, my world started going south, when I complained to my PCP that I wasn't feeling very well...nothing bad, just crappy. At first the test didn't show a lot...
This was in June... By July I wasn't feeling any better. More tests...still nothing concrete. I have COPD...my breathing wasn't doing well. I was sent back to my lung Dr. He did more testing and put me back on inhalers. they were not much help...kind of felt worse. While nothing had been showing up on x-rays or body scans...waited for blood panels. August 13th came the answer...my electrolytes were out of sync....my sodium was low... He called and told me he wanted to see me... mentioned the sodium, and I knew... My brother-in-law had pasted away from "oatcell" lung cancer, some years ago,,,I still have the autopsy. As soon as he mentioned the sodium.... I knew what had happened. I told him. He was surprised I knew. I went in and in 3 hours, I was headed into the hospital. And, would be there for nearly 2 weeks. Because of the health issues of my household, we had lived a pretty healthy life for a good number of years. I had quit smoking 25-30 years before and everyone else had kind of followed suit. No smoking had been allowed in my house since it was built and if anyone who did, had to step outside.
While in the hospital, I was on a 1000mg of Sodium daily...which made me gag....also had me on oxygen and albuterol every 4 hrs...along with a plethora of drugs, etc. I was not doing well, at all. Food was terrible, everything tasted awful. I was sent home on the 22nd with a fist full of RX's... after my first series of Chemo (3 days). Once home, I tried to get back to some sort of routine...Just couldn't get it together. By Sept 7th I had collapsed on the floor and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance...back into the hospital. I had lost some 20 lbs...mostly muscle mass and I was in renal shut down--nearly lost my kidneys. Chemo was hard on me...nothing like my breast cancers.
Called a friend of mine to come from CA...she did. She drove like a maniac to get here...6 hrs. I had to work hard to get hydrated and try to find a way to eat. I went home in a little better condition...actually to an assisted living facility where I didn't last 48 hours. In the hospital, they discovered my sodium was high and had stopped the sodium. Several other RX had been discontinued and I was starting to feel better. It was also discovered that my oxygen level had never really been 88 or below...I was usually between 94-99. ( according to a Dr. too much oxygen could irritate my throat to cause me to cough/bark... all the time. Nothing productive from my lungs. It also turned out I was allergic the Albuterol Inhalers...that was by accident... My machine broke down and hadn't been replaced and an amazing thing happened, my lungs cleared up. Just cancer, no rattles...no nothing. Once we stopped the oxygen...Not too much coughing.
I was taken to an assisted living facility, just down the street from my house. They really didn't bring me anything to eat...but my family did. I was signing all kinds of papers in the middle of the night...They wanted me back on oxygen.. I refused the inhalers. I was trying to find out what I had to do to get to a point where I would cooperate with them... by the end of the 2nd day the chef came to my room to find out what I could eat... We seemed get that patched...he sent me a meal that was perfect for me...I sent him back a note and told it was the best I had in days... About 2 hrs later, a nurse come in with a cup full of pills. I looked at it and freaked out. on top, was the very discontinued sodium tablet. That is when I called my niece to break me out of the place. I packed my stuff and waited for her and my daughter to take me home. Woman tried to intimidate me...by threatening me with loss of my gov. pension and SS.. Told her in no uncertain terms, "this was not the AZ State Pen and would want to go down that black rabbit hole....and, to unlock the doors for my family to take me home." She didn't want to...but, she did. Home I went...and today I have recovered very well.
I had no surgery...not an option at the time. My age is/was against me. The 1st and 3 chemo's were extremely hard on me... the 2nd, 4th and 5th have been fine. 40 days ago, I had just gotten out of the hospital, for the 3rd time (pneumonia???) 72 hours. I have had no events since then. I am breathing better and have started a slow exercise regimen for me. My Radiology Dr. started the Radiation treatment, and as he said today, I am an amazing patient. I beat the this cancer...I was sitting on death doorstep 6 weeks ago and now I am walking, breathing and living again. I am the 1-15% that has survived. He did warn me to take it slow...at my age, slow is not an option.
This earth is not ready for me to leave, yet. As I say, "I have places to go, people to see and things to do." And, I am a walking little miracle. My air scrubber has been another little piece of the miracle... It takes bits and pieces to fight a good fight. Laughing is a very big part. I canned 24 jars of quince jam two days ago, and presented 12 of them to the radiology Dept...with a pink wig, green Christmas Top, red nose and black tights...I fight dirty and I win. I wore pink or purple wigs, red nose during my breast cancer stage... Left them laughing and I won. Praying is a large part of my recovery--I believe in science and God. Positive friends and people are important. I met a gentleman Monday, who broke my heart, he was just beginning his journey, so full of fear...His wife (with tears in her eyes) and I talked a bit. I do my best to encourage people to dig deep inside and bring their strength to the surface, for the fight of their lives...
Hope this is what you wanted.
I keep notes and pictures...am on FB
Have a blog of my own.