Saturday, April 8, 2017

What's It Like to Have Breast Cancer

My first chemo treatment was easy. But the two days leading up to it were not.

When I went to Moffitt, the doctor recommended I have a CT scan done for pleural effusion in my lungs that showed up on the PET scan. She said she had never seen pleural effusion caused by surgery. So, of course, that gave me something else to worry about. None of my doctors had mentioned getting a CT scan for it because it didn’t show up on x-ray done before the surgery.

I got the CT scan set up the next day, which was a welcomed surprise, but the CT nurse didn’t know how to access my chemo port correctly. It was the most painful thing I’d had done yet - unbearable. She didn’t flush it out afterwards, and apparently when the drug was put in the vein during the CT scan, it didn’t go into my vein but spilled out under the skin.  Talk about painful.  I could’t quit crying. 

They took me back into the waiting room where I cried more, and another patient in the room asked me my name and if he could pray for me. I thanked him for it, as that was the lowest point of everything so far. If I couldn’t handle the port being accessed, I couldn’t go through with the chemo treatment.

On top of that, on the way to my appointment, one of our cats had something wrong with him, and he was walking around the house groaning. We had taken him to the vet last week for urine issues and an obstruction. He didn’t have one then, but I was certain he had one now because his pain was so bad. With male cats, it’s an emergency. I was afraid he would die without immediate care, but I was on my way to my CT scan which they had squeezed me in before I started chemo.

Anakin in Christmas tree

To make  a long story short, my oldest daughter left work and came and got him and took him to the vet so I could make my appointment. The vet said he would have died within an hour without being seen. He’s still at the vet being treated. Hopefully he can come home Monday. We have switched to a prescription cat food which hopefully will prevent this from happening in the future.

As you know,  I had the endoscopy done last week and hadn’t gotten the results, and the doctor didn’t call me with the CT results, so I was anxious for the infusion appointment. I had my highest blood pressure reading I can remember. 

The results had come in, and when I met with the PA, she said the lungs showed no signs of cancer, and the endoscopy biopsies were related to heartburn. Talk about relief. That would have pushed me into a stage 4 breast cancer and not curable.  I’m still at a stage 3. It’s still hard for me to believe I could even be a stage 3 when I had a clean mammogram and sonogram. No spread to nodes was visible even on MRI or exam. The spread showed up microscopically on the biopsy.

I have 12 weeks of Taxol treatment followed by 8 weeks of Adriamycin (4 treatments in all on this one, every other week.)

I’m thankful that I’ve finally started treatment, but it seems weird that I didn’t have any side effects except for the benadryl making me sleepy. I took a three hour nap when I came home.

I can only attribute the good outcomes of everything to everybody’s prayers and God’s faithfulness. When I had the bad incident with accessing the port at CT, I was afraid I’d never get through it. The infusion folks told me never to let anyone access the port but them. CT didn’t access correctly and could have damaged it, caused a blood clot, infection, et cetera, especially since they didn’t flush it.  

I hope all the additional treatments go as easily as this first infusion, but I’ve heard people say it’s progressive. They get harder, but right now, I like to think the drugs are hunting down any cancer cells in my body and killing them.

The doctors have said that it was highly unusual that 1.7 cm tumor could be in as many lymph nodes that it was in — 11 out of 15. That's just a little bigger than half an inch. Someday I hope to share this story — it’s like sin. A tiny bit of sin, no how small, with keep us out of heaven without Jesus Christ. Something that small in my body is deadly, just like sin. Something to think about, isn’t it?

Thanks again for your prayers. I really appreciate it. And if you love animals, pray that our little kitty that was found abandoned a few years ago will be restored to health. His name is Anakin.

1 comment:

  1. I am praying for you every day. It seems to be one shock after another. Your faith shines through your tears, however. I am encouraged myself when I read your confidence that God has your back. Your testimony blesses those of us who go with you in prayer.