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Sep 16, 2021 11:47AM
In June 2003, I had IDC, stage 1 grade 1, treated with lumpectomy, twice, second time for clean margins, chemo and radiation. Basically what I call, mutilated, poisoned and burned! Talk about being negative! I no longer apologizing because that IS what happened to me. Reluctantly I went on Tamoxifen for about a week.
Second time, Dx in Nov 2018, with ILC same breast, treated with mastectomy with DIEP Reconstruction, and Letrozole, which I stayed on for 6 months and wish I never was on it at all!
All that said, cancer, and treatments are NOT a one size fits all. It would be so much easier on all if it was! Sadly, as much as TV commercials show women saying they had treatment tailored to them, that is not true. Treatments are not tailored to the patient but to the cancer the patient has. Is there some wiggle room in treatment, yes. But unlike being treated for a condition like high blood pressure, cancer treatments are largely hypothetical. Chemo for "hypothetical" breakthrough cells of cancer in your body, radiation for "hypothetical" cancer cells in you breast or glands, hormonal treatment for "hypothetical" potential of recurrence, etc.
I believe therein lies our problem as patients with breast cancer and other cancers. Doctors know what works, but don't know who really needs the treatment, therefore more women get over-treated (I definitely was the first time I had cancer) but they also save many lives. How many? No way to quantitatively say for certain. They know some drugs work well at killing cancer cells (chemo) and preventing new cancers (hormonal therapy).
Thankfully, things have evolved for the better. 40 years ago, women underwent mastectomy and all lymph nodes removed on that side. Now we have lumpectomies and sentinal node biopsies. In 2003 when I had cancer, I had chemo due to my cancer measuring 1 cm. In 2019, a sample was sent for Oncotype test and it showed chemo would not be beneficial.
I truly believe in the not too distant future, new tests will show who will and who won't benefit from hormonal therapy.
Since that hasn't happened yet, I evaluated my cancer and applied it to my life and other health issues. I weighed the pros and cons, cried on more than a few shoulders, and added to topics on this forum. Ultimately, for me, I decided hormone therapy is more of a risk than a help (*for me) and stopped them. I no longer see anyone associated with breast cancer. I will have mammograms on my one remaining breast, but most likely will space out longer than 12 months, more like 14-18 months. I am 68 which played a big part in my decision too.
I am happier now, and have zero fear of getting breast cancer again. I am way more worried about Covid than Cancer and I had a vaccine (albeit J & J because that was the first I could get.)
Life doesn't come with a crystal ball. We all need to make decisions that we feel are best for us. It doesn't really matter what anyone, or everyone else does. Like many of our moms used to say when we wanted to do something they wouldn't allow us to do " if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"
6/6/2003, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/24 nodes, ER+/PR+
12/4/2018, ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH)