Before my cancer diagnosis, I had been experiencing menopausal symptoms and was working with a doctor and using bioidentical hormones specifically progesterone and oestrogen to help regulate the hormonal symptoms.
I’ve had a routine of scheduling mammograms the month of my birthday each year. I showed up for my yearly physical in October of 2015 with a new gynaecologist. I let him know that I was due to have my annual mammogram. The doctor told me that he believes that mammograms can cause cancer. He gave me a thorough breast exam and sent me on my way.
Two months later I was having a shower and noticed a lump in my right breast. It seemed to appear overnight. It was not painful, and I wasn’t concerned about it.
Four months passed, and the lump hadn’t changed. I then scheduled a mammogram. At that appointment I found myself looking at a computer screen with a radiologist telling me that it was possibly highly suspicious that the lump was cancer. He urged me to see an oncologist as soon as possible and that I would need a surgeon for a biopsy of the breast.
I had the biopsy a few days later. A call from the surgeon told me that the tissue was malignant and that I would need chemotherapy and radiation. He also mentioned that the margins looked clean and he felt cancer would not have spread beyond the breast. I chose to have a port placed for the chemo infusions and during that surgery also had a sentinel lymph node biopsy. Nine lymph nodes did show cancer and those specific nodes were removed surgically at that time.
My diagnosis was now stage four and my prognosis two to ten years
Next, a PET Scan was planned, and a week later I showed up at the oncologist for my first chemo appointment. On that day I was told that my scan results showed cancer in my liver, lungs, and my back. My diagnosis was now stage four and my prognosis two to ten years. I also had a brain MRI that did not show any sign of cancer.
My oncologist works closely with The University of Utah and the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I learned that the cancer was aggressive but that I was a candidate for a newer treatment that has good results for hormone positive breast cancer. This chemotherapy drug is Herceptin. I was also prescribed Anastrozole and Clonidine to take daily.
I initially had four chemo treatments and then had a repeat scan. The scan showed improvement and my treatment plans were changed at that time.
The treatment plan was now to have the Herceptin infusion every three weeks, with a quarterly Lupron shot to suppress my hormones. I continued to have Xegva shots to promote healthy bones every six weeks.
This all paid off, and in March of 2017, I had a repeat scan that showed no evidence of active disease (NEAD). Because my breast cancer had already spread to other organs, I would need to continue the Herceptin. For the foreseeable future. I am grateful that my body tolerates the Herceptin well.
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