Super Mom

Cancer

I went radioactive

Today I had a scan to see if the cancer has spread to any bones.

Firstly these early morning doctors appointments aren’t good for my health. Not that 8:00 is early but it’s too early to see a doctor.  I just don’t like going to a doctor.

Although this was a bit different. They are so sweet. They take time to explain what they are doing and how long it will take.

So at 8:30 I get injected with some radioactive liquid. (There is a proper name for that lol) Since it takes about three hours for your bones to absorb it, they could only do the scan at 11:00. So what to do with so much time? Wimpy breakfast of course (thanks Mom!)

The scan took an hour. An hour of lying on a flat hard surface, without moving at all. Do you know how long an hour can be?

She picked up a mark on my spine and did another 3D scan. You can clearly see the mark there. It can either be cancer or it could be degenerative.  Since I so often have backache I shall believe it is just a bad disc until further information says otherwise.

Tomorrow is another early appointment and then I see the oncologist again.


Cardiologist

Way too early for my liking, I saw the cardiologist this morning. (Thanks for going with, Mom)

Interesting fact, there is no damage to my heart from the cardiac arrest I had as a child.

This is good, since the chemo might do damage to my heart. I needed a heart sonar to see if my heart is strong enough to handle the chemo.

Actually scary to think that where normally medicine makes you better, chemo makes you sick. Obviously the idea is to kill the cancer that is trying to kill me but still.  Having to check my heart to see if it will cope is just weird.

So WTG heart for being strong enough!

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PS: It was the first time that someone else saw my breast after surgery. I felt embarrassed. I know it is okay, it is just a breast. I know in the bigger scheme of things it is not important. Still felt embarrassed.


First oncologist appointment

We met up with my oncologist on the 6th of November.  It’s the same oncologist that Tommie saw for the cancer he had in his face.  She’s very sweet.  She explained it all.  (Although I Googled it to no end and knew exactly what everything meant)  I listened intently in case I missed something.

Basically the fact that we picked it up quickly, is a good thing.

Bad things:

  • It’s triple negative breast cancer.  This means that it is a bit more difficult to treat.  It does not respond to hormones.
  • It has a worse prognosis than other breast cancer.  Only 10 – 20 % of breast cancer is TNBC (Triple Negative Breast Cancer)·
  • The cancer grade (which is not the same as stage) is grade 3. Grade 1 is the ‘best’ and grade 3 the worst.
  • The Ki67 percentage is very high.  This is the percentage that indicates how quickly the cancer grows, divides and make new cells.  Less than 10% is low and above 20% is high.  Mine? 80 – 90 %…·
  • Not to bore too much, there is a score out of 9.  3/9 would be the best…mine, 9/9.

So it’s not exactly what one would want, but it is what it is.  I have a bunch of tests next week.  One to see if my heart is strong enough to handle the chemo, others to see if it has spread etc.  I’m having a chemo port put in on the 21st of November and I’ll probably start chemo soon after.

I’ll get 4 sessions of chemo three weeks apart.  Then a different kind of chemo, once a week for 12 weeks.  I’ll have a month break and then radiation. So it’s a tough couple of months that lies ahead.

I am very lucky to have fantastic support.  My parents have been amazing.  I cannot thank them enough. Tommie took some time off work to help out.  I have friends who have travelled hours just for a hug and others who makes the best pudding ever. I have had the most flowers ever, since my operation.  One sweet friend who made sure that I looked proper by doing my hair for me.  Fresh pineapple juice from my sister-in-law. People from all over the world praying for me.  I can’t remember everyone and would feel so bad if I left anyone out.  Just know that the simplest of things mean the world to me.

If love alone could beat cancer, I’ll be cancer free.


The operation

I was finally operated on the 24th of October.  Three months after my breast started to hurt and more than a month after going for the sonar.

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I had to get  a flicker test done at a different hospital and arrived back at the hospital just in time for the operation.  They wheeled me out of my room pretty much as I got there.  Then I waited.  Thankfully Tommie, my mom and dad were there with me.  We waited.  Other people were taken through.  We waited.  They realized that the machine they needed to see if the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes, were still at the other hospital.  Wheeled me back and we waited some more.

 

Finally I was taken to the theatre.  I remember how nice the anesthetist and nurses were.  I didn’t see the surgeon before I went to sleep.

I woke up in pain (obviously) and extremely nauseous.  I have never been nauseous like that before.  They actually contacted the  in theatre to find out if they could give me something else.  Nothing worked.  Even the nurse told me the next morning that they felt so bad for me.  I have never had such a bad reaction from anaesthetics.

Recovery was not fun.  The drain was horrible.  I couldn’t wait to have it removed.  I have a high pain threshold but this was sore.  I was allergic to the plasters and even now, two weeks later, my skin is still red and swollen where the plasters were.   What does my breast look like? Let’s just say I will probably eventually get used to it.  I’m would much rather survive than die with proper breasts, you know?  It’s still not nice though.  I do not wish this on anyone.

I got my results back on the 30th of October.  This was before I saw the surgeon again.  I know the lady that works there and she sent it to me.  Of course I immediately turned to dr Google to see what it means.  Some things I thought were very positive and others not so much.  I wasn’t 100% sure though.  My cousin very kindly showed the results to her doctor and that’s when I knew it might be worse than I wanted it to be.  Her doctor said that it is an aggressive cancer and I should start chemo ASAP.  I saw my surgeon the 1st of November.  He said that he removed it all however it is not a good thing that it is Triple Negative Cancer.  He removed the drain tube (thank goodness) which did not hurt at all.  They made an appointment for me to see the oncologist on the 6th of November.


Biopsy

I saw the specialist on the 2nd of October.  I knew that he would want to do a biopsy.  I thought that he had a sonar machine that would help him navigate to the lump.  Boy was I wrong.  I don’t think I have ever been that sore, including the c-sections and the lumpectomy I just had.  Thankfully that pain only lasted a couple of days but it was excruciating. The actually needle didn’t hurt.  So I assume that if I went for a biopsy at the radiologist, it wouldn’t be that sore.  He had to insert the needle and then move it around until he felt the lump.  TWICE.

Anyway, I was almost convinced that the results would be negative since there was an outside chance that he didn’t even get tissue from the lump.  I was wrong.  It came back positive.  He gave me an option of lumpectomy (just removing the lump and a clear area around that) or mastectomy.

I have always said that if I had to get breast cancer I would have a double mastectomy without second thought.  When he asked me that, my brain almost stood still.  How do I decide?  What if I make the wrong decision.  What if I will regret getting a lumpectomy?  If it spreads I will be so upset with myself for not getting a mastectomy.  What if I get a mastectomy and I can’t cope with not having my breast (s)  .  I asked my cousin’s opinion (who is also fighting breast cancer).  I asked the kids.  My parents.  Tommie.  The doctor said that lumpectomy with radiation, will have the same result as mastectomy.  So we went with lumpectomy.

Thinking about it and talking about it, never made it real to me.  It was almost as if I didn’t think it was me that we were talking about.  I felt very removed from the situation.


I felt a lump

I’ve been meaning to write a post but everything seemed to take forever.  Getting final results or decisions took weeks.  I didn’t want to write a blog post only to say I think I have cancer or I  might have to get chemo or ….  I’m a black and white person.  Especially when it comes to myself.  I need facts.

During the July holidays, while in Stilbaai, I somehow hurt myself.  Can’t really recall if I walked into something or what happened but my breast was sore.  I couldn’t feel a lump, just that my breast hurt.  The pain came and went.  It bothered me a little but since it wasn’t a permanent pain and I couldn’t feel a lump, I wasn’t too bothered.

I can’t remember when but a while later I did feel a lump.  Obviously I was worried, so I googled.  General consensus …. Breast cancer doesn’t hurt.  If it hurts, it is most probably not cancer.  That was in August.  The pain did not go away though and it felt as though the lump was getting bigger, so I made an appointment to see my GP on the 19th of September.

I explained to him that my breast is sore and he examined me.  He wasn’t worried at all.  He also said that breast cancer does not hurt.  He planned on removing it the next Wednesday himself.  My medical aid though wanted me to get a mammogram before authorizing the op.  Apparently they don’t pay if the lump is benign.

I went for the mammogram on the 20th of September.  I always thought that going for a mammogram would be painful but it was not.  Uncomfortable but not painful.  She immediately asked me if I knew I had a lump.  I was then sent for a sonar.  The doctor didn’t want me to leave and asked me to wait while he contacted my doctor.  He knew it was cancer.  He didn’t say as much but started talking about survival rates and how it is treated.  My doctor was playing golf and I was told that he would phone me the next day.  Which he didn’t do.  I eventually went to his office on the Friday after trying to get hold of him on the phone for two days.

When he saw me he was all … oh gosh I urgently need to see you. He discussed the results with me, that I’ve had for two days and googled anyway.  I asked him if he thought it could be cancer and he said that yes, it looks like cancer to him.  He referred me to a specialist, who was on leave.  I could only see him the 2nd of October.  Another week of wonder and worry.