The Call! You Have Breast Cancer

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

October 2018 in the shower and.... what the heck is that? Was it always there? Could it be.... no... well hmmm... maybe...

A month of tests, biopsies, and then wait for the dreaded call which came on November 1, 2018. I was in the parking lot of work, just about to start my day, coffee in hand, kids being dropped to school and it was Friday. My husband was away that week and expected home over the weekend. I always worried about where I would be when they called. Well, here I was, in my car and alone when I hear the words "You have breast cancer".

When I heard the words ‘breast cancer,’ mortality washed over me. All I could think about was leaving my children without a mother and leaving my husband without a wife. I never got out of the car, I hung up and sat idle, numb, and in the background the chorus of the song Just Breathe - Anna Nalick was playing. I turned my car back on and headed home. Just breathing was all I could do at that moment and I was thankful for the reminder..”

My sister was visiting, was a last-minute decision and now I know why. She had just dropped my boys to school and was on her way home. I asked her to stay. We sat, ate Halloween candy, and cried. She was my rock at that moment, she called my parents and I made the call to my husband who was thousands of miles away for work. Not the way you want to share this news, but we had some quick decisions to make on his return as I had an appointment with the surgeon the next day.

Sitting in the surgeon's office 24 hours later I am not sure how much information I even heard. This is when having someone there to take notes or hear all the words you are blocking out is very handy. Double mastectomy, BRCA possibility, chemo, radiation, meds, and more blah this and blah that. The Dr. turns to me and asks "So, where do you want to start, surgery or chemo? I look around, me? You are asking ME? Of course, I have no clue. We agreed he would take my case to the tumour board (yes, this exists) Drs, oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, plastics meet and discuss patients files and together decide the best course of action. Sounds like a better plan to me, thank goodness I didn't answer, and will leave the recommendation up to the experts.

The WAITING! Sigh.... its long, stressful, and probably the worst time in any diagnosis. We tend to imagine every path of care, the good the bad, and everything in between leaving little time for sleeping and too much time for googling. Not a recommendation. Remember, if you must google try breast cancer success stories!

3 weeks later I was sitting in the chemo chair, with the red devil or (Adriamycin) and cyclophosphamide running through my body. I had a PICC line (replaced once in the 4 months), this was magical. I was up and running in no time and even though it was weird to have something hanging out of my arm, I managed to find ways to keep it covered and get over my allergic reaction to the tape. What I brought that was useful to treatment:

  1. Neck pillow (eye cover)

  2. Blanket

  3. Phone (headphones)

  4. Water

  5. Snacks

  6. Slip-on shoes

That's all you need.

I was on the regime AC-T every 2 weeks for 8 treatments. It was intense and I had 3 good days out of every 14. I took a lot of pre-meds, Benadryl, and felt foggy and "off" all the time. I slept hours upon hours, didn't eat much, and became extremely dehydrated. After the second treatment, my home nurse suggested I have hydration through my PICC line each day for 3 days after each treatment. This was another moment of relief. I felt much better, however still would say out of 10 was feeling about a 3. I didn't leave my house and watched or slept through so much Netflix. The good thing is I can re-watch all of those shows again!

I had nausea medications to take as I felt sick, well that was all the time so I asked for something that would stay in my system a bit longer and was prescribed 5 days of Lorazepam after each treatment. This again was a relief from the "off" feeling. During my 2nd treatment, I had an allergic reaction, and my lip, eye, and face swelled and went numb. They were so great at staying on top of me during chemo, they stopped everything and started Benadryl as well calling my oncologist immediately. Scary moment, but now my chart was updated and they would take pre-cautions next 2 rounds before I switched to Taxol.

Round 2 - means 14 days after the first treatment and hair loss. Sigh... I was obsessed with losing my hair, worried and sad. I also struggled with being so focused on hair loss.

Am I this person, vain? I have cancer, I could die, hair grows back. I think this deserves its own post, but I will leave you with the photo below, the left was taken 4 months post chemo and the right side 16 months post-chemo. I still have moments of feeling saddened by my hair loss and that even 19 months after diagnosis it is a constant reminder of cancer and the loss it has created physically, emotionally, and mentally. If you too are struggling with this, know it's okay. Feel the feels, they are your feelings. I work hard at this every day still. Below are the pre hair loss, cut, and treatment #1! I always wanted to try the asymmetrical cut.

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