My name is Susan. I found a lump in my left breast in early April - two months before my 39th birthday. On May 13, 2010 I was diagnosed with stage 2/3 breast cancer (ER/PR positive, HER-2 negative, BRCA1 & BRCA2 negative). I created this blog as a place to express my emotions and to update family/friends on the progress of my health.
After nine months of treatment, I am finally finished! My regime included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. I will be on hormone therapy (Tamoxifen) for the next five years.
I chose to do chemotherapy prior to surgery so there would be a chance I could preserve my breast. I was going to have to do chemo regardless, so I figured why not. I appreciate that different women have different opinions on this, but the thought of slicing off my breasts freaked me out and while it would be nice to have new boobs, I just didn't want to do that on cancers terms. Had I started with surgery, it would most definitely have been a mastectomy. Chemo shrunk the tumor so I could have a lumpectomy instead.
Chemo killed me. It seriously kicked my butt. HOWEVER, in many ways it wasn't as bad as I expected. I had six rounds that were three weeks apart. The first week I would be pretty tired - and it got progressively worse - but the next two weeks wouldn't be so bad. I even managed to squeeze in five weddings between treatments!
After chemo, I had a lumpectomy and lymph-node dissection. Seriously, after surviving chemo, surgery was a breeze... and I love my surgeon. They did have to go in for a re-excision lumpectomy to get some precancerous cells out - I figured it would be a good idea to deal with it now rather than later.
The lumpectomy hasn't really made that big of an impact on my breast size or shape. It's a little smaller and tilts kinda strange, but I don't think anyone would notice that. I'm still trying to decide whether to have cosmetic surgery. I just want to get all this treatment stuff behind me before I think about that.
Radiation was pretty simple, if not time-consuming (33 rounds, every week day). I had a slight burn near my clavicle, but other than that no significant side effects.
If you've recently been diagnosed and are as scared as I was, I'm happy to talk. We "warriors" have to stick together! It may be helpful to read my blog from the beginning (May 13, 2010) and go forward. Also, I would like to recommend you get the Ready for Recovery breast cancer planner. You're going to be inundated with paperwork, appointments, etc and it's a great way to keep all that in check.... plus it has tips on managing the emotional side, as well.
Onward and Upward! (Thanks for reading)