What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

More Tests & Sadly...

... More Surgery

Bottom line -- a mastectomy is more than likely in my future.

The back story is that back on May 11th I posted about some new tests brought on by my oncology check up and exam, which prompted a new mammogram, ultrasound, and then biopsy. All was well and good thankfully. The lump was found to be a fatty necrosis which can occur at the sight of surgery, or after an injury. Why it took 4.5 years for this to form, was unknown to all of us.

Then in September I went in for a repeat check and ultrasound, which I neglected to post about. Sometimes it feels like skipping over some of the worryful moments to concentrate on the happy times and events of life, is much better. The ultrasound that September showed all was good, which again was a relief. At the conclusion of the ultrasound, I asked the radiologist if I should just stop "messing with it", as it was annoying to me and I would find myself massaging the lump (the size of a walnut), to think I might break down the fatty necrosis and help it to absorb or something like that. He said, "Just forget about it all together. Don't worry about it". Well I tried to do that.

When I saw Dr. Amy Shaw, my oncologist, for a follow up on November 9, 2015, we discussed having the lump removed. By now it was 3 cm, fairly hard, and I could feel it when I hugged someone, plus it was starting to hurt when I wore some of my bras. Basically, it was very annoying and bothering me constantly. My question to her was wouldn't it just return again if the prior surgery was the cause in the first place. A few weeks later I emailed her assistant to discuss more concerns, as I could not get it off my mind. We both agreed that it was time to see my surgeon, Dr. Charles Elboim, for a consult. Since this wasn't urgent, I was trying to work around my schedule and some commitments I had during the month of December. It looked like the date that would work best for me was in early January. Then, as I was about to leave my Nurse Practitioner daughter's home, after one of my 2-days of spending time with my sweet two little grandchildren, I asked her to look at the lump for me. And she did. She suggested I needed to be seen the following day and should not put it off another moment. Her concern, confirmed my concerns. And unbeknownst to me at that moment, my whole breast had become swollen, red, puffy, and warm to the touch. This had come on just in the last few days and I'm sure glad I had her take a look for me.

I returned from Alura's late on a Thursday night, and called my oncologist at 8am the next morning, Friday. They got me right in that same morning a couple of hours later on December 18th. Mind you, this was not how I had planned to spend the day before hosting 30 people for our family gathering of all my siblings, nieces, nephews, extended family, and a few close friends. I was supposed to be shopping and cooking and cleaning and.... you get the drift. But no, not only did I have an exam, but as I was sitting in the parking lot telling Mark the latest, and planning to run a few errands for the big day tomorrow, I got the call to come back in as they had a slot for me for an Ultrasound. They followed that with a full Mammogram. And then I went to pick up a prescription. Oh well, the party will happen no matter what, and no one will be the worse from it, or know what is going on until I have the full story, or so I told myself. As I have said over and over again; one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. And so it was.

During this appointment with Dr. Shaw on Friday, it was apparent that I had an infection, perhaps mastitis, which basically is any kind of infection in the breast. She put me on an antibiotic and scheduled me to see the surgeon right after the weekend, on Monday.

When I saw Dr. Charles Elboim on Monday December 21st, we discussed many options. He reported that the size of the lump had increased from 3 cm to 4 cm in one month. He told me that the blood supply to this area of my breast was likely reduced considerably due to surgery and because of this my breast could not maintain healthy tissue. Why it had taken 4.5 years from surgery, he could not say. He repeated that all things pointed to this lump being benign, but that only surgery and biopsy of the removed tissue could tell 100% that this was not cancer. He seemed concerned that the area was still somewhat inflamed, but much improved from just a few days earlier. He did encourage me to get a refill on the 10-day antibiotic in case it did not subside completely and we were in the midst of a holiday or weekend. Oh was he ever on target here. He went on further to say how it might start to drain on it's own as this sometimes happened. We also talked about surgery options; further breast reduction, or full mastectomy; and his concern for surgery with my serious heart condition and how he would be sure not to put me at further risk in this area.

I left Dr. Elboim's office with the paper script for a refill if need be and proceeded about our holiday preparations and such.  It was Monday, December 21st, I would spend 2 days watching my adorable grand kids in Davis to help out while there sitter was away for the holidays; then return home to prepare for a special Christmas Eve dinner for our daughters, their husbands, and our three most adorable members of the family -- the three most adorable grankids in the world (no bias here). :-)

All went well, and I continued the script of the antibiotics. We had the most wonderful holiday with the most precious people in my life; and they even all stayed over and awoke with us Christmas morning to the wonderment of two 4 year old boys, and one precious 1.5 year old little angel. But later Christmas Day I noticed that the breast was completely red and hot and inflamed again; even with the antibiotics. Dr. Elboim was spot on in suspecting this would happen, and I refilled the script after the 10 day supply.

So here I am, on January 8th after being on this antibiotic for 22 days; and while the infection is better, the breast is still inflamed. After seeing Dr. Shaw on the 5th, as Dr. Elboim was away, she told me how she and Dr. Elboim discussed everything and they both feel mastectomy may be unavoidable. While he could possibly save some of the breast, the size of this fatty necrosis has grown to a point that there is not much breast left. So I am continuing on the antibiotic for the time being, until Dr Elboim returns. This antibiotic is the best available for treating beast infections. But I cannot stay on antibiotics forever. Dr. Elbows will do my surgery with the a sedative, rather than full anesthesia, so as to prevent any risk to my heart.

And as I do a bit of online research about fat necrosis of the breast, I am learning it is somewhat common in breast cancer patients, after either radiation, biopsy, or surgery. While it can often be treated with massage and/or hot compresses, it appears mine is much too large, and with all the inflamation, I may need to resort to mastectomy. But I will do more research with this time.

I know it sounds very selfish, but one of the things I am saddened about is that now that I'm finally at a weight where I feel comfortable dressing in things that are a little more form fitting, I will need to wear a prosthetic to hide the deformity. And this really pisses me off. And NO, I have no interest in reconstruction. I know that I need to be grateful for my health. Especially when I see others who are not doing so well. I guess it is a process of grieving that I will get through in time.

I am so over this breast. Maybe I will just screw it all and go commando. The discomfort of this huge hard rock in my chest, and all the issues it is causing, are not worth the pride of having two boobs.

That is it, my friends, in all the gory details. I am blessed to have my family and loved ones. I am blessed to not be dealing with serious cancer issues as my brother-in-law, cousin and other dear friends are. I am blessed to still be here on this earth and to be enjoying my sweet grand kids and family. So I will embrace this new change as it occurs, and put one step in front of the other, go one day after the other, and live life to the fullest.

Life is Good...

Debbie... aka the cancer SURVIVOR, 
AND now the Cardiomyopathy warrior!!!

THANKS for visiting! Comments are good. I look forward to your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Always putting others before you! My sweet sister hosted a huge family gathering without telling a local soul (she did confide in me) the day after last minute tests and appointments. This will turn out fine, sweet sister. Without that breast I can hug you tighter. I love you!


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