I have been fighting breast cancer…
I have not written for some time on my blog. I felt I should explain why. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the Spring of 2018. I have had 2 surgeries, 4 chemo treatments, and 20 radiation treatments.
I was perfectly healthy so…
I had no idea what was to follow after getting that message that my annual mammogram showed some calcifications from my family doctor.
“Breast calcifications are calcium deposits within breast tissue. They appear as white spots or flecks on a mammogram but can’t be felt during a breast exam. Breast calcifications are common on mammograms, and they’re especially prevalent after menopause.” – the Mayo Clinic
The next few weeks were a blur of doctor appointments, scans, and two different hospitals. After reviewing all options, the treatment plan was outlined to have surgery to remove the section with the lump, as long as the cancer hadn’t spread, I wouldn’t have to proceed with chemotherapy. But, there was a chance that I would, which was scary to think about ….
UPDATE: Jan 2018 NEW GUIDELINES Which put women at risk. My mammogram was done 6 mths later than I usually had it. (This turned out to be a blessing) The calcifications were seen then. If I had it 6 mths earlier it would have been a year later before my next appointment. Perhaps my stage 1 breast cancer may have grown in that time to something more serious. I do not think the NEW Guidelines will save women from detecting cancer, it will cost them their lives. I am so thank-ful that it was caught early.
The Task Force released updated breast cancer screening recommendations in 2018. The 2011 clinical practice guideline is no longer current. Please click to view the updated breast cancer screening guideline post….
Recommendations are presented for the use of mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, breast self exam and clinical breast exam to screen for breast cancer. These recommendations apply only to women at average risk of breast cancer aged 40 to 74 years.
Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care | Breast Cancer (2011)
Summary of recommendations for clinicians and policy-makers
Recommendations are presented for the use of mammography, magnetic resonance imaging, breast self exam and clinical breast exam to screen for breast cancer. These recommendations apply only to women at average risk of breast cancer aged 40 to 74 years. They do not apply to women at higher risk due to personal history of breast cancer, history of breast cancer in first degree relative, known BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation, or prior chest wall radiation. No recommendations are made for women aged 75 and older, given the lack of data.
For women aged 40–49 we recommend not routinely screening with mammography.
(Weak recommendation; moderate quality evidence)
For women aged 50–69 years we recommend routinely screening with mammography every 2 to 3 years.
(Weak recommendation; moderate quality evidence)
For women aged 70–74 we recommend routinely screening with mammography every 2 to 3 years.
(Weak recommendation; low quality evidence)
Outcomes of screening for breast cancer such as tumour detection and mortality must be put into context of the harms and costs of false-positive results, overdiagnosis and overtreatment. Consideration of benefits, harms and costs is complicated by variations in risk factors and in the types and stages of cancer.
Any positive result from screening has emotional costs such as anxiety and worry for patients and their families, and financial costs to both the patient and the health care system as a result of additional and potentially unnecessary diagnostic tests. For women with positive results on screening tests, additional diagnostic tests will usually be recommended, such as further mammography, ultrasound and/or tissue sampling with core needle biopsy. End of UPDATE.
Things that were of anxiety to me
Would I lose all my hair? Would I have to quit my job? I have two jobs, offline and online. How would I feel? Sick all the time? These questions revolved in my mind, round and round. Up until this point, I hadn’t felt physically different at all, and I felt ok leaving my house, knowing no one knew what I was going through. The possibility of chemo to me felt like the end of feeling normal. Looking back – it was.
Told you have Cancer
I don’t think I’ll ever forget hearing those words…. There was horrible traffic that day. We were late and I didn’t have a chance to eat breakfast. I told myself that once I got this final doctor appointment out of the way, I’d celebrate with a chocolate donut, my favorite Tim Hortons.
I’ll start from the beginning and tell you a little about myself. I have a family history of cancer but I was totally healthy. I exercised regularly, I ate right, quite smoking 15 years ago, and I always, always put on my sunscreen every day. So how did I get cancer?
My journey started with a gut feeling -not to go to that appointment for my mammogram at the time I usually had it. I really think that came from a higher power because it may have saved my life. I went some 6 mths later. Had I gone earlier it might not have been detected for another year.
The biopsy came back positive for cancer.
I was quickly given an appointment with a surgeon after my biopsy that showed cancerous cells. The surgeon told me rather matter of factly, he had done this over and over for many many years. But for me it was devastating. So I did my research. It was stage 1 the beginning and the tumors were many but small. It had not spread to my lymph nodes under my armpit.
This is what happened with my fight with Breast Cancer (stage 1)
First what where these findings?
In some cases, a biopsy of normal-appearing tissue may be done. This can help check for cancer
“”Suspicious” calcifications may be benign or an early sign of cancer; therefore, your doctor may recommend you have a biopsy. During a biopsy, a small amount of breast tissue containing the calcification is removed and sent to a laboratory to be examined for cancer cells. If cancer is present, treatment may consist of surgery to remove the cancerous breast, radiation, and/or chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.”
Many types of Biopsies
Surgical biopsy. Either open or laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to obtain a biopsy of hard-to-reach tissue. Either a piece of tissue or the whole lump of tissue may be removed. In my case, I had two surgeries, lumpectomies. No spread or metastases beyond the lymph nodes. I was very lucky to find this very early. Stage 1.
It was recommended by my oncologist that I have chemo and radiation as I had a family history of cancer.
My mother had had Ovarian Cancer and as I would not find out if I had the harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation gene (genetic testing is still ongoing) rather than wait I decided to go ahead with the method of treatment. Should I learn that I do have the gene it would make me more likely to get breast cancer again or Ovarian Cancer. So further surgeries would be recommended.
My mother had Ovarian Cancer when she was 72 yrs old. About 10% of cases are related to inherited genetic risk; women with mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have about a 50% chance of developing the disease. So I or my daughter, or my sister may be at risk because my mother died from Ovarian cancer.
A harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from a person’s mother or father. Each child of a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes has a 50 percent chance (or 1 chance in 2) of inheriting the mutation.
Preventative mastectomy and ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce the high risk of developing cancer from the defective gene she carries.
I am currently waiting to find out if I have the ” BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. If I do there will be further surgeries such as the ones that Angelina Jolie has had. Preventative mastectomy and ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to reduce the high risk of developing cancer from the defective gene she carries. My female family members should also seek testing with yearly mammograms.
****AN UPDATE: I have heard from Genetic Testing I do not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. My blood test results were negative. I am so relieved. I will not need further surgeries. However with the new guidelines does that mean I would not be screened every year???
I have written a previous article about my Mothers Ovarian cancer for PAC. http://www.poweraffiliateclub.com/do-you-have-lady-balls/
Treatment was done in my local hospital, only 5 mins from home in Winchester which is an hours drive from Ottawa. The first day was ok, you think “this is not so bad”. After the third treatment, your body starts to feel the effect of the chemo medication. I felt sick to my stomach, food had a very strange taste and my hair started to fall out. Chemo brain is a reality, not able to concentrate and I was so tired all the time.
Treatment had to be done in an Ottawa Hospital. An hours drive there and back again for many weeks. Again the first day was ok, but after about 5 treatments, things were uncomfortable, my skin felt like a sunburn, itchy and raw by the end of radiation treatment.
Finally, after 5 months, I am done with Chemo and Radiation!!!
I finally got that chocolate donut. It tasted soooo goood!! After months of food tasting like nothing at all. It will still be a while before I am feeling like I did before all this happened but I am happy to have it over with. I hope that the information I have listed can help someone going through cancer treatment or help you to understand what is involved for a friend.
Cancer is so prevalent today, so many people going through treatments that were much worse than mine. God’s blessings to all fighting breast and ovarian cancer and their families.
Jan 17, 2019
“GET MAD” over the new Breast Cancer screening guidelines.
Contact your MP’s and MPPPs !!!!!!!!
Please see this from CTV News on the New Guidelines https://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/breast-cancer-experts-urge-women-to-get-mad-over-new-breast-cancer-screening-guidelines-1.4258391
UPDATE: My stepdaughter is an Chemical Engineer with ACL Canada. She posted this recently on Facebook.
CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories
Ac-225 combined with a protein or antibody that specifically targets cancer cells, creating a revolutionary treatment that is extremely effective at killing cancer cells without doing damage to surrounding, healthy cells. Known as targeted alpha therapy.
Manufacture the isotope with CNL’s nuclear-licensed handling and production facilities. This is expected to increase global supplies permitting hundreds of thousands of treatment every year.
Breast Cancer Tests: Screening, Diagnosis, and Monitoring
Breastcancer.org 120 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 201 Ardmore, PA 19003
Canadian Cancer Information:
55 St Clair Avenue West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario
About Kathryn R. Maclean-Racicot http://www.facebook.com/marketingofflineonline/
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