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Topic: Newly diagnosed — how do you make peace with it all?

Forum: IDC (Invasive Ductal Carcinoma) — Just diagnosed, in treatment, or finished treatment for IDC.

Posted on: Jul 25, 2020 05:42AM

Melbo wrote:

Newly diagnosed IDC, ER-/PR-/Her2+, Stage IIA — two tumors In left2.9 and 1.0, no nodes identified so far

I was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago, two days before my 42nd birthday, and three months before what was supposed to be an international move to Germany. I was so excited about living in Europe that the breast cancer diagnosis was a side note to my disappointment that I would have to cancel the move.


Now I am finally wrapping my head around the diagnosis and how it will likely affect the rest of my life. When the surgeon first said 85-90% cure rate and a year of treatment, I thought “cool, that’s not so bad — be done in a year.” Of course now I realize that when the cancer world talks about “cure” they really mean 5 years from now. They don’t mean the rest of your life.

How do you shift your perspective? How do you stop thinking about 15 years from now and retirement and maybe moving overseas — but instead you value what you have now? How do you mourn the life you thought you were going to have?

i meet with the oncologist on Tuesday, and I assume once I start chemo I will learn to focus on the day-to-day pretty quick, but right now I’m still working through my acceptance of the situation.


Diagnosed two days before my 42nd birthday. One husband, two dogs, one cat and no kids. Dx 7/16/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/6/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 25, 2020 07:32AM - edited Jul 25, 2020 07:32AM by ElaineTherese

Hi!

I'm six years past my diagnosis, and I do think about 15 years from now and my retirement. At the same time, though, I do value what I have now and try to celebrate the small joys of each day. If you're lucky, (and I've been lucky so far), your cancer journey might be a 1-2 year detour on your ultimate path of life.

My cancer was also HER2+, and its treatment was definitely a marathon and not a sprint. Chemo then surgery, radiation, then a year of Herceptin.... Also, because my cancer was estrogen positive, I've been doing hormonal therapy for five years. But, it's been worth it.

Yes, I probably would have advanced further in my career if the cancer hadn't come along. I might have traveled more or taken on more projects. But, I'm 53 now, and feel good. Each birthday is a blessing and each day is a chance to watch my kids mature and become more independent.

((Hugs))

DX IDC June 28, 2014, 5 cm., 1 node tested positive (fine needle biopsy); 0/20 after neoadjuvant chemo + ALND; Grade 3; ER+ PR+ HER2+ Neoadjuvant chemotherapy starting 7/23/14 ACX 4, Taxol X 12, Perjeta X 4; Herceptin: one year Chemotherapy 7/23/2014 AC Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Targeted Therapy 9/17/2014 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 9/17/2014 Taxol (paclitaxel) Surgery 1/12/2015 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary Hormonal Therapy 2/25/2015 Aromasin (exemestane), Zoladex (goserelin) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2015 Breast, Lymph nodes
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Jul 25, 2020 10:49AM Claire_in_Seattle wrote:

Hi Melbo,

So sorry about your diagnosis, and no it's not the news you wanted to hear. That said, most of us go through at least one event which changes their life. I am now 11 years out from diagnosis, and have a wonderful life, even with COVID. About to go out and cycle 60 miles. I couldn't feel sorry for myself, having one sister who was born with Down Syndrome and who died at 14, and another sister who is bipolar. This was just as ElaineTherese says, a life detour. Not a fun one to be sure.

I did lose my dreams for a bit, as I was spending my energy going through treatment. They came back a year later. Then, I needed to dig out of the trifecta of a divorce, breast cancer, and the economic downturn which had affected my income. I got there a couple of years ago. Now, much to my surprise, I am having a career renaissance.

Since, I am supposed to be "retired", I never would have imagined this would happen.

One thing that helped me was taking the attitude that I was "cured until proven otherwise". This meant that I focused on living my life, not on being in the unlucky 10%. I was lucky that I was able to cycle throughout treatment, astonishing my oncologist (who had most likely said "yes" to cycling while not really believing I could pull it off). I don't expect you to cycle, but exercise is the single most important thing you can do for yourself throughout treatment and beyond, both for your mental health and for the survival benefit.

My bicycle beckons. Good luck, and get outdoors if you can. Read up on the benefits of exercise, and walking is fine here. My guess is that the path ahead is a bit different than you imagined, but there is no reason at all that it should be less than fabulous. - Claire

Completed all treatment (AC +T, lumpectomy, radiation and 5 years of AIs - anastrazole). Now celebrating every single day for the wonderful life I have been granted. Dx 8/2009, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- (FISH)
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Jul 25, 2020 11:05AM - edited Jul 25, 2020 11:08AM by SondraF

It levels out - you get going on treatment, the fear of the unknown starts to fall away, and you gain perspective on what really matters. That last bit sounds cliche but its true - all that career crap, pointless meetings, inane colleagues - at the end of the day your here and now and your health are the important bits which, as you've seen, can all be taken away in a nanosecond.

What is also going on now is you are mourning for an assumed future and experiences now lost/delayed, loss of innocence of full health, awareness of your own mortality, loss of control, and that fear of the unknown. There is no other way to manage this but to feel that loss, acknowledge it, cry as much as you need to process, and then hike up the panties and go deal. There is no second path - the only way out is through.

Finally, change your thinking slightly and reframe your situation. You have a really good shot at being cured for a lifetime, or at the very least far beyond five years; some of us didn't even get that chance from diagnosis. Take it as a gift and make the most of it, wherever your path leads next.

Dx 9/27/2019, IDC, Right, 5cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Targeted Therapy 11/29/2019 Ibrance (palbociclib) Hormonal Therapy 11/29/2019 Femara (letrozole), Zoladex (goserelin)
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Jul 25, 2020 03:24PM Moderators wrote:

Welcome, Melbo. We're so sorry you find yourself here, we know how difficult it can be to process a diagnosis. But you've come to the right place for support, and we're all here to help support you through this process.

The Mods

To send a Private Message to the Mods: community.breastcancer.org/mem...
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Jul 25, 2020 03:41PM beeline wrote:

I agree with what everyone else has said. It is a process and will take time. But don’t assume you can’t move to Germany later. When I was first diagnosed I was sure that all my future plans were off the table. Two years later I am planning again. As YATCOMW says in this amazing post, “BUY THE SHOES!”


https://community.breastcancer.org/forum/67/topics/871796?page=1

American in NZ. Dx’d at 42. Had to stop Taxol after #6 due to neuropathy. Randomised to control group in MonarcheE trial 😩 Dx 7/17/2018, IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Surgery 8/2/2018 Lymph node removal: Right, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right Dx 8/21/2018, DCIS/IDC/Paget's, Right, 2cm, Stage IIIC, Grade 2, 10/22 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC) Chemotherapy 9/18/2018 AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy 2/12/2019 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 2/25/2019 Whole-breast: Lymph nodes, Chest wall Hormonal Therapy 1/22/2020 Arimidex (anastrozole), Femara (letrozole)
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Jul 25, 2020 04:33PM Melbo wrote:

Thank you so much for all of your replies. It’s definitely going to be a long-term process rather than instant gratification. I have definitely been reading up in the power of diet and exercise and I have been trying to make sure those things are part of my new normal. We’ll see how that goes once I start chemo, but I plan to at least walk everyday.

Diagnosed two days before my 42nd birthday. One husband, two dogs, one cat and no kids. Dx 7/16/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/6/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Jul 26, 2020 06:46AM Redkitty815 wrote:

I echo what everyone else says above. I was diagnosed last November at 43 after not even getting a serious cold for the last 10 years and having zero family history/risk factors. And the cancer was in a node as well as my breast. When my PCP broke the news to me, she urged me to exercise every day, eat more vegetables and eat organic. This plus getting the best treatment available were the things I could control and they gave me a sense of purpose and achievement. I’ve lost nearly 30 pounds and fit into clothes I haven’t been able to wear in years due to these healthy changes NOT cancer.

My journey hasn’t been linear (I was Her2- at biopsy and positive at surgery so I needed to restart chemo and tack on another year for Herceptin along with hormone therapy for at least 5 years). But it is really, really doable. I was terrified to lose my hair, but once I let go and did, I found that I loved being bald and now rocking an edgy buzz cut look.

I choose to believe that this is only a chapter in what will otherwise be a long and satisfying book. Her2+ cancer is very treatable and it is important to know that the published long-term survival rates do not take into account all of the newer therapies available today. Your odds are great. And it gets much easier once you are in treatment and have found your rhythm.

Dx 11/26/2019, IDC, Left, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 12/19/2019 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 7/12/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 7/12/2020 Navelbine (vinorelbine) Surgery Lymph node removal; Mastectomy; Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right)
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Sep 22, 2020 10:46PM msphil wrote:

hello sweetie i was diagnosed at 42 also while making ing wedding plans for our 2nd marriages. First thought i would die had my cry then decided to fight with my faith and Positive thoughts like i Will make it thru this and to have Hope. I prayed for this husband now this No i will fight. Praise God i am this yr a 26 yr Survivor. Hang in there. msphil idc stage2 0/3 nodes 3mo chemo before and after Lmast then after 1 filling in expander i got fever of 103 rush to E R and it was removed my body rejected it so wear prothesis. Then got married then 7wks rads 5yrs on Tamoxifen.

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Sep 24, 2020 07:24AM Dbloomfi wrote:

I too am newly diagnosed but my motto has been don’t worry until a doctor tells me to worry. I have been very fortunate that I have a team of doctors and nurses that are wonderful. My surgeon ended up also being a plastic surgeon so the scar isn’t too bad. I don’t think long term so I don’t have to worry about 15 years down the road. I think about what needs to be done today. Today was 4 of 20 of radiation. Good luck!

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Sep 28, 2020 11:17AM AbbyRhodes3 wrote:

Thanks, @melbo for posting this- and it's wonderful to read the replies. I'm in the same boat as you, and still coming to terms and not very far with that, yet. I'm even afraid that my struggle to accept will affect my results, which - while it's good to be positive and keep the better endorphins going- is a little nonsensical. It discounts the effects/benefits of meds and treatments and the last 20 years of progress.

I have a counter on my phone, counting down to a date in early January. I had planned to semi-retire on that date. Now it's a countdown to the week before my last chemo - if all goes on schedule. Maybe I'll be fortunate and will work a couple more years and reassess from there.

I haven't had a cry yet. I'm going to try to achieve that before I head for my first infusion on Wednesday. Onward from there.

PS: I did already learn one thing from this experience that might help someone younger down the road: Do not share your thoughts/plans on semi-retirement, life changes, etc very widely. I am not sure I'd even have told my immediate family- because they tell friends, who then ask you if you're going to make the leap - when you haven't shared your diagnosis yet. I think of myself as pretty careful with my private info, but I wish I'd been even more so. I'm so tired of that raw nerve getting hammered on this week. :\

Dx 9/8/2020, IDC in right breast, 1cm | ER+ 5% | PR+ 1% | HR2+ x3
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Sep 28, 2020 12:45PM Melbo wrote:

Just to check in on this topic since several people have replied. I'm halfway through my chemo treatments now, and dealing with the day-to-day of chemo certainly helps focus me on the here and now. This was the week we were supposed to move to Germany, and while I'm still sad that the move got cancelled, it has definitely taken a back burner to the reality of having breast cancer. To answer my own question now that I'm into the weeds of treatment though, I'm not sure we ever make actual peace with it all. It's cancer and it sucks. For most of us the whole thing came out of nowhere and took over our lives in the worst possible way. We can get used to the changes to our lives, and adjust to the new normal we find ourselves in, but I'm not sure I will ever make peace with it. Cancer is always going to get the side-eye death glare from me, even on the days when I'm mostly okay.

Diagnosed two days before my 42nd birthday. One husband, two dogs, one cat and no kids. Dx 7/16/2020, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Targeted Therapy 8/6/2020 Perjeta (pertuzumab) Chemotherapy 8/6/2020 Carboplatin (Paraplatin), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Oct 17, 2020 03:05PM Colliesalways wrote:

Hi Melbo, I'm not sure either that there is a way to make peace with something that impacts our lives the way bc does. If there is I haven't found it! To me it's more of a grudging acceptance of something I can't change. It's dealing with it the best way I can, showing up to my appointments, and trying to be positive most days which gets hard sometimes. Now that I am done with active treatment I have found it hard at times to move on. I am trying to learn not to think about it all the time and not to spend time worrying about recurrence. I know that I am sick and tired of thinking about it, I am tired of looking in the mirror and seeing the physical effects of treatment and knowing that side of my body will never look or feel normal to me again. It's a long road and I think for most of us it's always going to be a work in progress.

Dx 2/4/2020, IDC: Cribriform, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 3/19/2020 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 5/6/2020 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 6/10/2020 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)

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