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Breast Cancer now or then information

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Since I belong to two separate breast cancer groups there have been some questions asked about finding out more, where to get help, etc. I decided to write it all down. As always, be sure to ask your doctor about anything before trying it.


I just finished my treatment for breast cancer on March 21st. First of all there are several different kinds of BC. I had the most common that affects 80% of all patients. I was so fortunate. It was stage 1 when it was discovered by digital mammogram. I had two choices - mastectomy or reclaim. With both I would have to have radiation daily for at least 6 weeks and the possibility of chemo. I opted for the reclamation as I am large busted and there would be a greater chance of infection. Once more I was fortunate because I had a test for genetic markers that show the chance of it returning. When the results were in, two were excellent, but one was in the middle, more towards the bad. The chemo oncologist had me take the chemo via pill as he said to do the intravenous would be overkill. Since hormones can trigger my kind - Ductal carcinoma in situ DCIS - I'll have to have hormone blockers for at least five years and perhaps 10. My life expectancy is 90% for 5 years and 80% for 10 years. I am so happy to be alive that a daily pill is a small price to pay! As for treatments I had, the radiation made me very tired. As tired as I was, I tried to complete 5 minutes of cardio each day. Mostly I would walk in front of the TV during commercials of my favorite show. I also had to have a second surgery after the lumpectomy, where tissue around the original tumor was located and lymph nodes were removed to see if it had spread. Once more I lucked out - all was clear, it hadn't spread. My arm hurt the longest I believe. I did lose some hair (I had it clipped down) and I had no eyelashes or eyebrows. The ACS had a wonderful program call Look Good - Feel Better. We were taught how to take care of our skin, because it does change with treatment, how to use makeup to add eyebrows and make your face not look so pale. We also were taught how to use scarves and wigs and our options. I have a very old wig that isn't very well and a new one I love. I also have a cap with some that Velcro’s to it and is a little longer. Now that I have started to grow in, I wear a lot of hats and baseball caps or spike it as it tends to want to grow up! My doctor wanted his patients to have certain bras that open in the front. I have three. The one took the drain tubes I had to have for four days. It also has two prosthesis and all three bras have pockets to hold one or two. Now they are too big for me, but I am lopsided and will have to get a smaller set fairly soon as I am lopsided on the left, and my nipple is under rather than on top. Once more - luck was with me. We have a shop in our county seat that carries all sorts of post cancer clothing and items. The woman who owns it is certified and I think this is the first time since when I started wearing bras that I've had some that fit me right!!

First you need to find out if indeed this is cancer. IF it is, you can get a lot of info from your surgeon and the American Cancer Society. You should have a local chapter where you can go for literature. If it is a small area like mine, I called the 800 number and received so much help in that area. You will also have to find out just what kind you have. You also need to follow all directions by all of your doctors. I had three doctors and 4 techs on my care team. All were just wonderful, but I had to listen and do what I was told to take care of the radiation area.

There are support groups in all sorts of places. I opted not to attend because of the distance for the one in my county. I had a one-on-one survivor I talked to on the phone once in a while. But I had a lot of friends and a few family members I could talk to who were very supportive. One thing that helped me immensely was I kept a book on my journey. I kept my hospital bracelets, bills from the doctors and hospital and the insurance statements showing how much they paid, my feelings about everything, etc. And of course the Spark Teams.

When I had bad days, I could read about my positive thoughts and it would help me feel so much better. Another thing that helped was to watch comedy flicks that would make me laugh a lot.

My cancer was found during my yearly mammogram. Early detection saves lives is really true. I also have a tee that says, "If you think a mammogram is scary, try finding a lump". Bob also wears his "My wife's fight is my fight" polo a lot.

Should you in fact have this and you would like to hear some more of my experiences, you are free to join my groups - Living above Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer victims and those who love them. Both are fantastic groups.


I really do hope this helps even someone who thinks she might have cancer to be checked right away. The sooner it is found, the better things will be.

Ev

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PMCFARM 6/25/2011 10:46AM

  Ev... emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
what an awesome blog. Thank you for caring! MarilynC.

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MOTLEM 6/25/2011 12:28AM

    Hello there. I've been the same trip and am in year 2 of my daily pill. Yes, scary stuff and the more information women can digest on the subject the better.

Keep up 'the good fight'!
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Mel - Tasmania, Australia

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1BEACHWALKER 6/24/2011 2:19AM

    You are such a sweet lady to be thinking about all of us, when you are going through what you are! You have such an amazing outlook on life and such an inspiration! I hope all works out for the best for you. Hugs and Prayers. Take care Ev.

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MOM2ACAT 6/23/2011 4:23PM

    Very well done blog!

Until I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, I had no idea either how many different kinds of breast cancer there was.

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TBID227 6/23/2011 3:51PM

    You have the most amazing spirit! Keep sharing and keep hanging in there! *hugs*

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JKURJACK1944 6/23/2011 2:37PM

    Evie, Wonderful information for all women out here. Thank you for sharing. Prayers for you on your journey.

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FLORIDAGHOST 6/23/2011 12:43PM

    I hope you are feeling better today. I wish you a speedy recovery and blessings.

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1CRAZYDOG 6/23/2011 10:38AM

    Bless you! Mom is just newly diagnosed (had surgery on June 10th) for DCIS. You're right . . . it is the most common. Hers was encapsulated and the lymph nodes were negative, so that's GREAT! The tumor was not hormone receptive, so probability is she won't have to go on Tamoxifen, but we'll see. She is awaiting an appt. w/a radiologic oncologist for her radiation (has to have 3 wks. of radiation).

She also had hers found during her digital annual mammo. She never did feel a lump! Neither did the Drs.!!!! So that mammogram saved her life, I believe. She is recovering well from her lumpectomy and the lymph node dissection. She, too, says the breast doesn't hurt . . . it's the arm from where they took out the lymph nodes.

God bless you in your fight! Your information can help just one more person and it's WORTH IT!

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Monday floats into Tuesday, the Wednesday, and then ????

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Well tomorrow I get to wait around the house for the hospital to call about what time I go to surgery Tuesday. That will be when I have my feeding tube put in my abdomen. Wednesday I get to go back to the surgeon to have the tube checked. Then I have no clue what is to happen. Gee, seems I've got chemo brain before the chemo starts!!!

Last Monday I had five more teeth extracted. I still can't get over how easy it was for me! When he was finished, he asked me if it was ok for him to pray for me. Of course I told him yes, Then he and his assistant held hands and he said a wonderful prayer over me. He is an amazing man and I really, really like him. Tuesday I went to see Dr K and after checking me, things were changed to move things up. Wednesday I went to see the surgeon, which had been scheduled the next week. Tuesday I also had my mask made. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but then I was on valium!! Thursday I had the PET/CT scans done. I had a lot of trouble swallowing in it. I think it has really advanced from what is was when it was diagnosed in MAy. It shouldn't be any big surprise as they told me it was aggressive. I went to the hospital to turn in my blood work and have the pre-op done. It is nice to get it all out of the way. Friday was a rest day.

The next week will start the actual treatments. I know I see the chemo doc on Tuesday and it will start on Wednesday. Dr K said he wanted everything to start this week.

What is sad is that the food I'm permitted to eat are high calorie. And I have one more week before I can do any kind of activity, even any lifting. This doesn't work in with my goals, but that's OK. When I am able to start once more, I'll do what I did last time - I started over at 5 minutes each time until I had it up to an hour!!

Guess this is all for now, I'm very tired,

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1BEACHWALKER 6/22/2011 1:10PM

    Please remember we are thinking about you and our prayers are with you Evelyn! Keep doing what the Dr.'s tell you that is best for you-don't worry about the high calories or anything else-just keep positive thoughts on your recovery! My heart breaks that you are going through this! Hang in there! emoticon

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COACHPENNY 6/21/2011 4:52PM

    I hope your surgery went well to day, Ev.

Just wanted to let you know I am thinking you will be alright on the weight issue. I am on very low activity due to recent disk issues....went from very high activity to doing almost nothing. Lost another pound and I switched to 2% milk from skim.

Your body will need the calories as fuel to get better.

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MOM2ACAT 6/20/2011 4:22PM

    emoticon I'm glad the tooth extraction went well, what a wonderful dentist and staff!

I wouldn't worry about the foods being high calorie for now, just eat what you can tolerate. Chances are with the chemo there will be times that you won't have an appetite at all, so those extra calories won't hurt. I know my oncologist recommends against his patients trying to lose weight while on chemo.

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PANSYLADY2 6/20/2011 12:05PM

    Ev, I wish I were with you to give you a hug and hold your hand while we talked about Jesus and the joy He brings.

I am glad the teeth came out so easily and you are recovering from that well. Meanwhile, enjoy the food you get to eat, even tho it is high calorie.

Keep positive things in your thinking. In our church, there have been four people healed from cancer, one man has been pronounced dead two times and is still alive and praising God. Our God is the HEALER, the DELIVERER, the SAVIOR. He leads us THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death.

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You Gotta Do what You Gotta Do

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The other day a friend of mine how I did my weight loss. I said I have been following SP and she wanted to hear about it. There was really no time to get into it and give her a clear view. I did give her the url so she could look into all SP has. Later that day, we talked again in person. She had an entire list of questions for me! First I told her it was so nice to see my neck again rather than a double chin!! I said if she decided to follow our program she had to always remember to love herself, find ways to reward herself without food, and always remember to not be hard on herself if she slips- she can always start with the next meal or the next day.

She asked what I thought what the most important ideals were to keep me focused and to help me. My answers were most likely not what she thought they would be. First was to make a commitment to make a healthier lifestyle. Making small goals that are doable should be written on a SP page. Be sure to make one. Little things will help her stay on track because she is making herself accountable. Then be sure to track your food intake daily. Enjoy yourself by joining a team or two. You will meet friends who are so supportive you will never feel alone. Sign up for some newsletters to receive good links for learning. And be sure to find some really good recipes to save in a cookbook that you make here on SP and use them!

Then she asked about blogs. I told her that if she reads someone else's blog be sure to leave a heartfelt comment and visit their Spark page to leave another note with a possible goodie. Often they will have more information to help. She might even find that they have lots in common and/or belong to some same teams. A good thing is to look for a buddy from her Spark Page. If they live close, perhaps she can workout together, figure how to make grocery lists, and if not, she can use her spark message program. It is very helpful to have someone to encourage and for you to return that support.

She was shocked when I told her how much support I received here when
I was going through breast cancer. Now prayers and good thoughts are coming my way because of my tonsil cancer. It is all more than I ever thought.

Then I tackled exercise with her. I explained challenges from both the site and teams. I was depending on my motorised chair so I joined the chair exercise team and loved all the information and friendship I received there.
As I got stronger and stronger I used some of the exercises available. Then came the diagnosis of breast cancer, so I joined the living with cancer team. Oh, how helpful everyone was and answered all of my questions. I was able to do 5 cardio everyday. This mostly came from walking in place during TV commercials. I did it during my radiation and chemo!! Afterwards, I added 5 minutes to my my walking and stretching every week or so until I was up to an hour or more. There are so many exercises explained in the daily spark and fun videos to follow. She can pause the videos or even repeat a part she needs to have for further information.

Also I did some extra things to help along the way. Making sure I put up visual helpers around my computer and do some steps for dieting. By trying to help others, I have helped myself. My first goal was 65 pound and I have lost 52. And darn seeing my neck and chin is so much nicer than seeing that "old" double - or was it triple - chin. And that reminded me to tell her to take pictures from the start and along her journey. It is so inspiring to see the changes! And be sure to drink at least 8 cups of water each day - I do 10 cups!

I'm sure each of has our different reasons for joining SP and find different issues that help us stay legal. I know this is my journey, but teams, friends, and support is what makes me stay accountable and loving Spark People.



"before as I started"


Maxine my motorized chair


Dec 2010


My high school picture. I would love to get 10-15 of my weight at that time.

I really hoped I helped her to want to join all of us.


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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUFFPASTRY 6/30/2011 3:45AM

    I agree with everyone here -- you've been truly beautiful at every age and every weight! I love your apple cheeks and gorgeous smile! And I think your round wire-rim glasses are very cool! emoticon

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SPARKGUY 6/22/2011 3:53PM

    Thanks for sharing your post! This is such a great example of what makes SparkPeople so great -- the PEOPLE like you.

We're all with you for the next steps on your journey and wishing you the best.

SparkCheers!

Ch
ris (SparkGuy)
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1BEACHWALKER 6/22/2011 1:24PM

    You are such an inspiration spreading the spark even when you are going through tough times! You do SP proud! Let's hope more people will join through your example! You are looking good there in your photos! Keep sparking! emoticon

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SKUTZ1 6/15/2011 8:16PM

    Ms Lady, u always give good advice. U r always in my prayers and u do look good. emoticon Have a blessed day. emoticon

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PMFISH 6/13/2011 8:05PM

    Ev you are looking terrific! Your eyes are sparkling and you have such a peaceful expression on your face. I am sure your friend will be glad she asked you the first question.

Keep up the good work lady!

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MOM2ACAT 6/13/2011 5:56PM

    You look great, and you did an amazing job explaining Spark to your friend!

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SETAGOAL1 6/13/2011 5:52PM

    You look beautiful. That was very kind of you to share SP with her. You expressed the points with no judgement, very easy. I liked your blog it is very well thought out.


You are emoticon


Janet

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TBID227 6/13/2011 1:29PM

    I think that is wonderful that you provided her (and us) with so much insight, advice, and inspiration! I hope you have encouraged her to join so that another person can experience this! You have come so far and done so much and I know you will continue to! Thanks for being a great motivator and inspiration to me!

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PANSYLADY2 6/13/2011 10:50AM

    Fantastic job, Ev. Looking at your pictures, I need to tell you I love your smile. It is YOU!! No matter what the weight, no matter what else is going on, YOU are, and God loves you.

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BD3269PM 6/13/2011 6:43AM

    What a great blog! I loved how you explained all the good things here on SparkPeople. This site is terrific; not only the information and tools, but the people (like you) who inspire and motivate others to continue. Thanks for sharing and have a great day. emoticon

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HICKOK-HALEY 6/13/2011 1:42AM

    Good for you. I hope she joins as well. Keep up the good work. Your an inspiration!

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Tired but proud

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today is the fourth day without exercise and only resting. All ready I can feel a great change. Not doing my daily walk and stretches, has really taken a toll so soon. My balance seems to be gone - I had a fall this week - The strength in my legs also seems weak. This is not a good thing. I have two more weeks of this, then it is a question about the radiation and chemo. *sigh* I hope I remember to ask my oncologists when I see them this next week.

The diet I have to be on sucks, too. Bob has to blend everything before I can eat it. Yuk! The fruits are ok, but the veggies and crackers are yucky. emoticon If anyone has been through this, they'll understand.

My nephew's 11 year old daughter has ben doing so wonderful with her track and field events. I am just so very proud of her. This spring she rode her bike in a 5 borough ride in NYC!! I thought that was quite an accomplishment until my brother told us how well she did at her last meet.

If you have read my status, you already know she had a 12' 5" broad jump with the nearest time being 10' something. But I hadn't heard about her runs until this afternoon. It seems she had wonderful 100 and 200 yard dashes. On her 100 yard dash, a boy bested her by .02 of a second!! The great part is she ran with the 12 year old boys and she is an 11 year old girl!!! One large step for young female athletes. emoticon emoticon
I can't think of too much better for her, except she excels at soccer, ballroom dancing, violin, reading and speaks two languages - English and Danish. She and her sister and brother normally spend summers in Denmark and attend school there. I am just so proud of her and the other children, too.

Many times I have wondered why there was so little gym in school when I was younger. We had a semester in 9th grade and a semester in 10th grade and that was it. Now, I was big and wore thick glasses, so I was picked last for teams more often than not. But I really loved the trampoline. I did ok with basketball, but as much as I love baseball, I couldn't judge the distance to hit or throw so I could understand why no one wanted me. I did have the consolation of being a majorette from 6th grade until gradation. In summer band, we would always march down the Soap Box Derby hill in Akron. That day I always wore out a pair of tennis shoes because of the angle we had to march.
I had strong legs - especially my calves. I feel really bad that I have lost that strength. And I would have loved swimming if we had it. But at least the girls of today such as my nephew's daughters have the opportunity and that is one of the best things we can do for them.

Well, I'm really tired and I need to rest.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JKURJACK1944 6/12/2011 4:35PM

    Hope you are feeling better today. Your diet makes it difficult to maintain your strength, but you can think yourself strong with the help of your guardian angel. I still send mine to you for extra reinforcement.

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PANSYLADY2 6/11/2011 7:25AM

    It's so fun to be a part, no matter how small, of the lives of nieces, nephews, and grandkids. Sounds as if your nephew's kids are really excelling in many areas.

Sorry about all the medical stuff you are going through. Having to blend your food sounds really bad, but if the end result is good,it will be worth it.

Father, I pra for my friend today, I ask for grace and the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be hers. Heal her body now, in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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SKUTZ1 6/10/2011 8:40PM

    Ms Ev, u r always in my prayers. Just do the best u can in exercising. God bless u each and everyday. emoticon

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TBID227 6/10/2011 4:39PM

    So gald your nephew's daughter is doing great! What a wonderful achievement! Sorry to hear your legs are weak, I know you cannot do any exercise, and maybe a foolish question, could you do some leg raises maybe? Keep on hanging in there! As always, *hugs* and keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

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YINETTV 6/10/2011 2:35PM

  Wow sounds like a lot but you're doing great. And your nerve she's really good.if she jeeps it up whose know where you'll go. emoticon

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Well, yesterday was interesting

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Yesterday was the dentist. I was so surprised with the treatment! He keeps it cool in the room, so I had a blanket to use. And a pillow, too, for having the chair recline. To top it off, the dentist had sun glasses because the light he has to use is so bright!! First he used a spray that helps numb the area; then he gave a shot of Novocain. He let that sit a few minutes and gave another shot. He pulled the three teeth and I didn't feel it at all. When the numbing wore off, I did feel it enough to take a pain pill. I could hardly believe this mostly pain free pulling.

When I was ready to leave, my orders included no solids, no exercise or work, and only rest. This will be for at least three weeks. And no straws. I have to use a plastic spoon or drink from the glass rim as long as I don't slurp it into my mouth!! I also was told how to keep it packed so hopefully I won't have any dry sockets.

There are also some antibiotics I must take 3 X a day. Wow! Do they make me sleepy. I can only be on-line a little at a time. I try to keep up, but I'm not sure how much I'll be able to do so.

My schedule:
13th - have 4 more teeth removed
14th follow up with radiation oncologist
20th -PET/CT scans
22nd - Conference about the feeding tube with my surgeon

Sometime before the end of the month I have to have blood work, and then see my chemo oncologist on the 28th.

I keep hoping I haven't forgot anything. My mind seems to be churning and I'm sure if there are hidden things in my mind I need to mine them.

Thanking all my prayer warriors and those sending me good thoughts. With God and all of you, I know I'm going to make it through the trauma.

May you all have fantastic Thursdays!!

"Ev




  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IDLETYME 6/10/2011 9:42AM

    Keeping you in our thoughts and prayers everyday.
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MOM2ACAT 6/9/2011 7:21PM

    I am glad it went well, and I hope your recovery is as comfortable and pain free as possible.

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JKURJACK1944 6/9/2011 3:01PM

    Evie, So glad to hear from you. I've been sending out prayers. Every night I send my guardian angel to protect you.

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NEVERORNOW 6/9/2011 10:13AM

    Praying for you, friend!

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PANSYLADY2 6/9/2011 9:46AM

    Thanks for the update Ev. Sending prayers your way for total healing, in Jesus' Name!! Amen.

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