“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon, 1970).
(Update: I now have clear scans, cancer free!!!)
In March, 2009, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. It all began with a suspicious mammogram, then further testing and then the call from my doctor with the bad news. My life changed forever on that day.
Well, I definitely was not planning on having cancer. But, I do plan on surviving it. So this blog is about my journey towards becoming cancer free.
I also hope that this will be a way to keep friends up to date on my progress. It can be difficult to send out emails and keep up with making phone calls especially during chemotherapy. Plus, I really don’t know how much information my friends want to have – so this way – you can check when you want to, read what you want to etc. Please know that I welcome your calls, emails, visits, invitations out. Cancer can be a bit isolating at times. With so much time and energy focused on getting well, it isn’t always easy to reach out. So please do not hesitate to contact me. It is good for me, I need it. If you already know my regular email (which is my first and last name @yahoo.com) then, please feel free to contact me there or via my cell phone. If you do not know me, but would like to get in touch with me, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
About my cancer
About 20% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. There are different types of aggressive breast cancer. One type of aggressive breast cancer is what is known as HER2 positive breast cancer. I have this type of breast cancer. In HER2 positive breast cancer there is an over expression of a protein (called HER2) that causes the cells to divide and grow even more rapidly than the more common forms of breast cancer. The good news is that there is a targeted therapy for this type of breast cancer. The targeted therapy is a drug called Herceptin. This drug is a mono-clonal antibody. It works by binding to the protein receptors on my cancer cells. In doing so, it prevents the cancer cells from producing the protein that it needs to grow and divide. Eventually, the cells die. Herceptin is amazing. It is sort of a seek and destroy drug for my type of cancer . . . and it will save my life . . . truly amazing.
About my diagnosis
My cancer is what is known as triple positive in that it is HER2+ (that there is an over expression of a protein that causes the cancer cells to divide and grow quickly – this is what makes this cancer aggressive), ER+ (estrogen responsive) and PR+ (progesterone responsive). The latter two (ER+ and PR+) mean that my cancer will respond to hormone treatment. That is a good thing.
I have three tumors in my right breast. The tumors are small. But, the cancer is aggressive. And so too is the treatment. I will write more about the treatment in my blog. My blog is searchable, so if you are looking for something specific, like my treatment details, you should be able to find it. I have had mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies (plural) and a breast MRI. After all of these tests it was determined that my cancer has not gone elsewhere (thankfully). Although I did test positive in a lymph node. Still, I am told that we have discovered my cancer early. I am receiving excellent care and have a good prognosis.
(Note: Added on September 14th, 2010: I was originally told that I had three small tumors. I later found out, but, never updated this page until now, that I had “multi-focal” cancer, with three tumor areas. The dominant mass was 3.4 centimeters by 4.4 centimeters (not small). No doctor felt anything – I had SEVERAL exams. I never felt any mass there either and I did self exams. It was not until a mammogram that anything was discovered. Still, it was early stage breast cancer. And, still cure-able, thank God. Since my diagnosis I have had chemotherapy, a year of Herceptin infusions, a bilateral, skin-sparing mastectomy and radiation to my right side. I have made changes to my diet and am currently on Tamoxifen to help reduce the risk of a recurrence. Cancer has definitely changed my life and continues to do so every day . . . in some amazing and marvelous ways . . . believe it or not . . . ). Don’t get me wrong . . . I am never going to say that I was glad I had cancer. But, it has been, and is, a remarkable journey filled with so many amazing people. I am so very grateful every day.