My ER, PR, Her2 positive breast cancer story starts during one of the most stressful times in my life. I had just started a new job and then received the news that my dad had been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Years earlier we had received the news that he had been stricken with Parkinson’s Disease, as a result of his time served in Vietnam. He had served in an area of high exposure to Agent Orange, resulting in Parkinson’s Disease.
Your Dad Has Cancer:
I came home from work one spring day, a day like any other to a very somber look on my husband’s face. He had recently spoken with my mom, and she had shared the news that what we at first thought was nothing more than an ulcer, instead ended up being a very deadly disease. We held out hope until the very end that his cancer had not spread, and was still treatable, but sadly that was not to be his fate. His case had become metastatic, making hospice care his only option so that he could spend his remaining time on this earth in the comfort of home. We lost my dad in the fall of 2015.
It’s Just a Cyst:
During the final months of my dad’s life on this earth, my husband and I spent every weekend at my parents home, helping out in any way we could. We did yard work and other tasks that my dad no longer had the strength and energy to do. The stress of my dad’s illness, watching him waste away from not only cancer, but the swallowing issues caused by his Parkinson’s Disease, resulted in many the sleepless night. During this time, I had an abnormal lump appear in my right breast. This lump appeared in what felt like overnight. It was painful, as well as moveable, which in my mind lead me to believe that it could not possibly be Breast Cancer. I turned to DR. Google, like so many do, for answers, and it seemed that this lump could be nothing more than a benign cyst, that would eventually go away on its own.
DR. Google also advised me that a natural remedy called Evening Primrose would help soothe the pains in my breast. I also discussed this abnormal lump with my family, who are well versed in natural healing and remedies, and the consensus was that it was likely nothing to be concerned about. I had much more pressing things to deal with, so I just ignored it, figuring it would go away on its own.
Something’s Not Right:
As life returned to normal after the passing of my dad, I finally had the chance to focus on getting to the bottom of health issues I had been dealing with for many years. Brain fog, digestive problems, joint pains, and migraine auras, were a constant companion, so I sought the help of a Naturopath to help me get to the bottom of my issues once and for all. On my first appointment, I was sent home with a test to determine the health of my Adrenals, later diagnosed as Adrenal Fatigue caused by many years of constant stress.
By this point, the lump in my breast had not gotten any better. Instead, it seemed that things were starting to change. It was getting lumpier, and I was beginning to experience discharge from the nipple, which had me quite scared. I hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t be cancer, especially her2 positive breast cancer, but I wouldn’t know for sure until I had it looked at by a professional. So the decision was made that I would have my Naturopath take a look at it on my next appointment.
She Was “Highly Concerned”:
After discussing the results of my Adrenal test, it came time to have my Naturopath take a look at the lump. I was a nervous wreck the entire time, hoping and praying that she would confirm my thoughts that this lump was nothing more than a benign annoyance. Instead of calming my fears, I heard her say she was “Highly Concerned,” and quickly left the room to allow me to change and to schedule me for a mammogram ASAP. As I lay on the exam table, the tears began to fall. We just went through this with my dad, there was no way this could be cancer.
My doctor entered the room and tried to calm me down the best she could, knowing full well the feelings I was going through. She advised me to contact my husband so he could go with me to the mammogram. Little did I know at the time that this day would put into motion a chain of events that would result in my breast cancer diagnosis. Ultrasounds, MRI’s, Biopsies, CAT and Bone scans, all to determine how far cancer had spread. Unlike my dad, I was lucky in the fact that my diagnosis was Stage 3A ER, PR, HER2 positive breast cancer. Many a time I have thought that if I had just waited a little bit longer before having my lump looked at, I could have potentially ended up with a Stage 4 or metastatic diagnosis, which would have resulted in a completely different end to this story.
You Are A Survivor:
After six rounds of TCHP chemo, bilateral mastectomy, completing a year of Herceptin treatments, five weeks of radiation, monthly Zoladex shots, Aromatase Inhibitors, and reconstruction surgery, and in February 2018 I was officially classified as a Breast Cancer Survivor. Of course, just because my treatments are over, that does not mean the battle is done. I now fight a new fight. The fight to heal my body from all the damaging effects that treatment has caused while trying to find my “new normal.”
Your Cancer Came Back:
A routine checkup in June 2020 turned out to be anything but. My blood work showed elevated liver enzymes, which I just blamed on the OTC pain medications I had been taking in the days prior to my blood draw. But, as usual, my doctor knew something was up and immediately ordered additional tests. It was in July 2020 that my life changed for the second time when I received the call that my cancer had returned, but this time I was Stage 4. There were many tears, as I contemplated my “terminal” diagnosis. Although additional scans found cancer in my liver, bones and brain, my mindset has shifted to staying positive and not seeing this as a death sentence, until I am told otherwise.
This site is dedicated to my cancer struggles, as well as tips and advice to help others in their own Breast Cancer journey. Cancer is a horrible disease, and no one should ever feel like they are alone in their battle.