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Oct 4, 2013 10:11AM
Good morning, I am a sixteen year survivor of breast cancer. Diagnosis was a total suprise. No history in my family. one of 15 first cousins on maternal side, 10 of whom were female. I am the only one to develop breast cancer. my paternal grandmother had ovarian cancer other than that know nothing of the paternal side of family. I did not want to know the type of cancer I had, I just wanted to know what to do to survive, if possible.
As to risk factors, prior to diagnosis, was always really healthy, fit and strong. I was a runner, swimmer, water skier, triathlete and a tap dancer. I had been tapping with a group for ten years prior to my diagnosis. I did begin the menses one month before my 11th birthday with breasts, horrible thought as I was the consummate tomboy. Had my first child at 22 and my second at 26, breast fed both children for a year. due to changes in metabolism from chemo have had a weight problem since.
during the time I was taking birth control pills, doctors would not leave you on them for extended periods of time, had to get off for a few months to let body readjust. Poor body, was so confused.
originally my tumor was classified as a stage 2, grade 2 due to size, when the lymph glands were removed (1/17) downgraded to a stage 1, tumor was neither estrogen nor progesterin receptive.
I took birth control pills from 1962 (year I married) - 1969 (my husband had a vasectomy). When I was 50, had a hysterectomy and was given HRT. five years later I had full blown breast cancer.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 55, only symptom of menopause was the elevated breast size, no hot flashes, mood swings or night sweats, chemo produced continual hot flashes to this day and expect to have them forever. i am really comfortable at about 50 degrees. My poor husband suffers.
January 9, 1996, I found 3 cm lump in 4th quadrant in right breast. Prior to that had not felt the lump, even though lifted my breasts each bath time to clean underneath and lifted to put on bra and to adjust the bra. Had lumpectomy to remove tumor, did not want a needle biopsy. after diagnosis, modified radical mastectomy last of January, 1996 with TRAM flap reconstruction on right using my stomach fat instead of implant and reduction of left breast to match new right breast.
after mastectomy had shingles due to trauma to the body, then began 8 rounds of chemo, day I completed chemo, oncologist decided I needed 28 radiaiton treatments. Due to that, the reconstructed right breast has slowly diminished/shrunk to almost nothing. Now have plans in motion to "refill"/make same size the right breast. Will have implant in right breast. This time I cannot use the stomach fat in right breast as it is considered experimental yet we used it in 1996 and it was not considered experimental. Cannot have an implant in left breast so that the breast will match because the doctors do not want to take chance of interrupting blood flow to nipple in left breast. So, I will still be not the same. But!!! will not have to wear insert any longer in my bra
to add insult to injury, had a suture granuloma (non-dissolable stitch trying to work through my skin at site of TRAM), little bit of a problem, removed this in the spring, no one sure how this developed, but had depression in my stomach that looked like a funne for about three months before it became red and inflammed, think may have moved/torn something doing Pilates on the reformer tower, GP thinks it is from where I had a drainage bottle after TRAM flap.
No one was concerned as to what it was, said this happened a lot, just did not want it to get infected. After surgery, left wound open to keep from forming a depression similar to navel. did not quite make it, have small depression. During the surgery also found a hematoma. The wound was about 2 inches x 1.5 inches deep. My guest bathroom counter looked like preparation for surgery, had to injure the wound 2 x per day to keep it open (that hurt like the crazy) clean it with a type of saline solution, pack it with treated surgical gauze. If it had become infected, would have had surgery to remove mesh packing over muscle involved in TRAM flap which would have been a really tedious surgery and also would have been needed had the hematoma been larger. And this happened 16 years after breast cancer surgeries and treatment.
the point to this is --- even though my tumor was neither ER+nor PR+, I am convinced that the hormones I took in form of birth control pills and HRT caused my cancer. The pills were really strong in the early days, had not figured out dosage amounts at that time.
thanks to all for listening, it is very cathartic to have a sounding board.