My breast cancer journey started three years ago at age 41 when I found a large lump in my right breast. I ignored it for quite a little while as there were too many other things to do as a busy Mum of three. Eventually I saw my GP and was referred for a mammogram, followed by lumpectomy surgery for the removal of a benign fibroadenoma. Phew!
Last April I noticed new changes in the same breast, and quickly went back to my GP and was referred for another mammogram and ultrasound. This time the results were not good and I was diagnosed with infiltrating DCIS. The next day I had core biopsies done on my breast and lymph nodes and a week later I had a radical mastectomy and axiliary clearance and was classed as Stage II breast cancer. Two weeks later I started the first of six cycles of FECD chemotherapy. (The day I started my chemo my husband decided to leave us and the country to start a new job in Hong Kong!) The chemo was then followed by 7 weeks of radiation and almost 12 months of Herceptin targetted therapy.
This Easter I started to feel dizzy and nauseous and have just been diagnosed with a secondary brain tumour in my cerebellum. My breast cancer has progressed to Stage IV. The Herceptin could not cross the blood/brain barrier and therefore was unable to stop the tumour spread there. I am about to undergo neurosurgery in two days time to remove the 1cm tumour and will then commence full brain radiation and a whole new regime of chemo and targetted therapy.
The last year has been a whirlwind experience that has turned my life and that of my family upside down. I am a stronger person for the experience though and determined to fight on for the sake of my three beautiful children. We need to remember to be kind to ourselves and during this journey to accept help from our loving family and friends. I have been so blessed to have such an amazing network of friends that have arrived on the scene to make sure that all goes well for the kids while I am away in hospital. I am so humbled by their generosity.
Thanks guys :-)
You can follow me on Twitter as I tweet daily about my experiences last year and the uncanny parallel to my daily life this year. I hope this can give others inspiration and that they may draw strength to fight their own breast cancer battle. https://twitter.com/#!/SoniaWhite48
Last week I felt as if pressure was building up in my head. I was irritable and very light and sound sensitive. I had a headache and it felt as if a vice was clamping down on my brain.
Just before bed near midnight, I decided that I should get things checked out in case I had a slow intrcranial bleed or build up of CSF. So I rang the triage nurses at the local hospital and was told to ring an ambulance on 000 and come straight in.
Not wanting to make a fuss, I rang 000 and asked for an ambulance to come very quietly with no sirens as everyone was asleep!
I am still waiting for some conclusive results to the supposedly secondary tumor that was respected from my cerebellum (brain) last week.
Prior to surgery, my oncologist said I had progressed from Stage II to Stage IV breast cancer.
After surgery, my Neurosurgeon said that the tissue in question looked abnormal, but pathology results say it is normal and not breast tissue. They say what it is not, but not what it actually is. I wonder if the sample actually made it intact to pathology?
I was wondering if anybody else has had experience with hospitals and alerting them that they cannot access your mastectomy / lymphodema arm for blood pressure cuffs or bloods?
If so, what policy/measures did that hospital use and or how did you make sure your arm was not compromised?
When I had my mastectomy and axiliary lymph node clearance a year ago, the local private hospital used a pink armband to denote the lymphodema arm that was not to be used for blood pressure cuffs or needles to take blood.
It is now 5 days since my neurosurgery to remove a 1cm cerebellar secondary tumour, and I am lying awake at 2am in my hospital bed.
The unfortunate side effect of Dexamethasone is all too common, as many of you may have experienced. I have experienced ravenous hunger, burning stomach pains, racing heartbeat and palpitations, feeling hot, and the ever present sleeplessness and overwhelming creative thinking. I just can't switch the brain off!
This wonderful steroid is controlling the inflammation of my brain and tempering the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Yesterday I celebrated Mother's Day a week early with my three beautiful kids and my Mum, Dad and sister. I will be in hospital three hours away from home on the real day, having neurosurgery on my brain metastase, hence the early start.
It was a beautiful day that started with a two course brekky in bed cooked by my kids! My compliments to the chef, it was delicious!