My breast cancer journey started in November of 2009, when I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB invasive lobular carcinoma of my LT breast. Like many of you, I obtained preventative screening mammograms every year from an early age and then transitioned to mammogram and ultrasound during the last 5 years prior to diagnosis. My cancer didn't present as a lump or mass, my LT breast just became very firm and I was told that I had fibrocystic breasts. However, since the RT breast didn't have the same appearance, I questioned this with my OB/GYN who sent me to a breast surgeon. My 1st biopsy came back negative, it wasn't until 3 months later that the 2nd biopsy showed cancer. MRI showed the tumor to be 7 cm in size; therefore, I was given chemo to shrink the tumor prior to mastectomy. However, following mastectomy, my tumor had not shrunk in size and 9 of 18 lymph nodes were positive. Following which I had radiation, hormonal therapy, and reconstruction.
At the time of my diagnosis, I had just returned to college at the age of 51, since I was looking to make a career move. In addition, I carried the health insurance for my family. Against the advice of my oncologist and others, I continued to work full-time and go to school part-time during my treatment, which was the best thing for me since it kept my mind off the "what ifs." I've been in school since then, on a part time basis, and just recently achieved a bachelor's degree in Health Information Management. For me, being in school and working served as a great distraction and kept me moving toward my goals. It also helped me serve as a role-model to my daughters who were both attending college during that time. I was determined not to let my cancer diagnosis define me.
Now, 10+ years later, a few days following graduation, I've have been diagnosed with Stage IV disease, which was caught early as my oncologist had been running a CA 27-29 test since diagnosis and it started to increase last April 2019 from 44 (s/b 38 or lower) to 196.4 in January 2020. My first PET came back negative; however, the second PET done in June 2020 showed mets to my RT 2nd and 12th ribs and T10 & L2. My original tumor markers were ER+, PR+, HER2-, but have changed following chemo to ER+, PR-, HER2-, so, I've been placed on Ibrance and letrozole. However, after 28 days on Ibrance, my WBC dropped to 0.9, so Ibrance has been held. Last week, my WBC was 2.4, so I've been off Ibrance for approximately 2 weeks now, but I'm still taking the letrozole. I also had my first Xgeva injection last week.
I feel very fortunate to have had 10+ cancer-free years and I'm hoping the new treatment regimen works so that I can enjoy many more years and see my two daughters get married and have children, travel, etc. I'm a very positive person and I believe in living each day to its fullness and my hope for joining this forum is to be able to connect with others who to share our joys, concerns, treatment tips, etc.
Wishing everyone hope and happiness!
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...It's about learning to dance in the rain.
11/5/2009, ILC, Left, 6cm+, Stage IIIB, 9/18 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC)
12/1/2009 AC + T (Taxotere)
5/18/2010 Mastectomy: Left; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement
8/4/2010 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
9/14/2010 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
5/22/2011 Reconstruction (left): Pedicled TRAM flap, Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant
4/14/2012 Aromasin (exemestane)
6/2/2020, ILC, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, ER+/PR-, HER2- (IHC)
6/17/2020 Ibrance (palbociclib)
6/17/2020 Femara (letrozole)
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