What were your first symptoms?
I noticed the lump in December of 2015. It appeared out of nowhere. It wasn’t sore or anything. It didn’t change or get bigger after I started watching it.
I really didn’t have any other symptoms that were apparent. I had decided to get back into shape in the Fall of 2015, and I had done that before and not had any issues. This time around, though, it was harder. It was weird for me.
I did notice a little heaviness in my chest, and now with hindsight, that might’ve been something that was a symptom of cancer.
How did you get diagnosed?
I had a mammogram in April of 2016. The radiologist saw that mammogram while I was still there and told me I needed to go see an oncologist.
I had saline implants, so instead of a needle biopsy, they went in surgically for a lumpectomy. It was a same-day surgery. The next week, I got the diagnosis of breast cancer.
They took out the lump and the margins were fairly clean. They said they had good therapies for triple positive and HER2, but then they wanted to check the lymph nodes. They did a PET scan. The day I went back to the oncologist to start my chemo while waiting on the full diagnosis and staging, I found out it was metastatic and I was stage 4.
That was a lot to take in that day, but the treatment was still the same. My oncologist said it was a lot of information for me to take in on one day and was willing to reschedule my treatment, but I didn’t want to. We were treating it aggressively. I was there and ready and wanted to get started.
How were you thinking and feeling after the diagnosis?
My original oncologist isn’t my oncologist now. His bedside manner isn’t the greatest. The day he gave me the diagnosis, he kept asking, “Do you have any questions?” We didn’t know what to ask. Finally, my husband asked about prognosis. He said I had 2-10 years depending on how well my body reacted to the treatment.
By the time I got home, I’m googling everything. I read that the next place it can go is to your brain, which the doctor didn’t even mention. I’m thinking, “Is it there too?” We hadn’t done any testing for that. My surgeon ordered an MRI for me, and at that point, it was clear, so that made me feel better.
How did you tell your loved ones about the diagnosis?
My husband was there with me. He’s always there with me. I have four adult boy children. I told them all early that I had cancer and thought it was early stages. I had to call them all back and tell them it was metastatic, and they all dealt with it like they do with Google and research.
My parents had a hard time with it. One of my first thoughts was, “Am I gonna outlast my parents?” We told our closest family first, and then I had to tell work because I knew I was gonna start losing my hair.
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