overview of breast cancer experienceSome Thoughts About Writing About My Breast Cancer Experience

This is a summary list of what happened on my breast cancer journey from a medical viewpoint. Many other things happened that pertain to my emotional outlook, my spiritual growth, and in my life outside of the medical side of the cancer treatment, which I will be sharing with blog posts as well. And I must, because some amazing things have happened along the way!

But I needed to make this list to help me write about what happened. And perhaps some of my friends and loved ones may be interested to see the short overview of how things happened.

I really wanted to journal my cancer experiences on this blog AS they happened. But I have found I wasn’t able to do that in real time.

I actually started out my cancer experience writing what happened each day, because I had just started a 30-day blog writing challenge just days before I found out I had cancer. I started out the challenge writing about forgiveness, but then switched to my cancer experience after the diagnosis.

I was able to write about it daily for a short while, with a handful of blog posts, but I couldn’t keep it up. I think partly because my life has been so difficult. And partly because of ‘chemo brain’. And I’ve been having a hard time just sitting down and writing, and figuring out how to organize my experience into little chunks. Thank goodness I am able to be compassionate with myself, and I do not allow myself to beat myself up that I have not accomplished this yet.

I am near the end of my cancer journey, as I am recovering from mastectomy surgery right now. What I have left is radiation treatment, and breast reconstruction.

I have a plan to go back and write about all the significant things that happened along the way

Not just the details of each experience from a medical viewpoint, but also things like:

  • My emotional reactions to what was happening.
  • What I did to encourage myself.
  • The help and encouragement I received.
  • What I was learning from my breast cancer experience.
  • How I am different (and better!) because of my experience.

And so, I am starting now, with this overview of my experience.

Overview of My Breast Cancer Experience

As I was writing this overview, I realized I already have blog posts for some of the first things that happened, and they marked with an asterisk ( *). As I write about the experiences below, I will update the *’s and add links from here.

  • I noticed a lump in my L breast around March 2014*
April and July before cancer diagnosis
April and July before cancer diagnosis
  • I went through several appointments up to the mammogram with state funded insurance Jun/Jul 2014*
  • I was about to schedule a biopsy when my husband’s insurance kicked in Sep 2014*
  • I started the process over with my HMO Sep 2014*
  • I had the biopsy September 30, 2014*
  • I was diagnosed October 3, 2014*
  • I met with a surgeon October 8, 2014, I was told I was STAGE 3, and will have chemo & surgery
  • I met with an oncologist October 15, 2014, who said I am almost STAGE 2, and prescribed 6 months of chemo
  • {I had 2 tumors: 4.5cm in my L breast, another smaller one in a lymph node in L armpit}
  • I had a MUGA Scan October 16, 2014
  • I went to a chemotherapy informational class October 22, 2014
  • I had my first PET Scan October 23, 2014 – results showed only the 2 tumors, yay!
  • My BFF took a pre-chemo photo shoot of me with red roses and my dance & worship flags!
before and during chemotherapy
  • I started chemo November 5, 2014
  • I had 4 treatments of Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide for 12 weeks (once every 3 weeks from November to January) These were HORRIBLE for me.
  • Got a free wig from the American Cancer Society (the orangey-auburn bob in the pic above)
  • I lost my hair about 2 weeks after the first chemo
  • Ordered myself a blue wig, a purple wig and a pink wig!
  • Ordered myself my Chemo Boots!
  • I had 12 treatments of Paclitaxel starting in January (weekly for 12 weeks)
  • I had my last chemo April 16, 2015!
  • I had my 2nd PET Scan April 27, 2015
  • {larger tumor was now 0.5cm, and the smaller one could not be found!}
  • Met with a plastic surgeon to discuss breast reconstruction April 28, 2015
  • May 4, 2015 – I decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction
  • Had an appt w/ radiation oncology May 13, 2015
  • (they called me at the radiation appt to tell me that:) Surgery was scheduled for May 30, 2015
  • It was canceled May 29, due to plastic surgeon having to take emergency leave
  • I met with a new plastic surgeon June 3 and decided on delayed breast reconstruction
  • Mastectomy and lymph node removal surgery rescheduled for June 15, 2015
  • Surgery went well, first 3 days of recovery were very nice
  • Had a reaction to meds and next 3 days were terrible
  • 2 drains taken out 1 week after surgery
  • 3rd drain taken out 4 days after that
  • Now recovering from the mastectomy

To come:

  • 5 weeks of daily radiation (Monday through Friday)
  • 6 months down the road: breast reconstruction
  • cancer-free body for the rest of my life! (That is truly my goal!)

Whoever is reading this, I thank you. May you be blessed.

If you are one who has been praying for me, thinking positive thoughts for me, or sending encouragement my way, thank you from the deepest part of my heart!

If you are going through cancer, be blessed, and may you receive peace and strength and hope.

If you have a loved one going through cancer, may you also receive peace, strength and hope, but also may you be able to extend love and support to your dear loved one.

May we all look to the future with great hope. And be blessed mightily.

With much love,

Erica

Author: Erica

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