So where have I been?

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 The 2011 clinical practice guideline is no longer current.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)
https://canadiantaskforce.ca/guidelines/published-guidelines/breast-cancer/

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.

Recommendations (Mammography)

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.

Kathryn Maclean

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.

source: https://www.webmd.com/cancer/cancer-prevention-detection-16/cancer-diagnosis

This is what happened with my fight with Breast Cancer (stage 1)
Breast Cancer

First what where these findings?

Calcifications?

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.”

 

source: https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/breast-calcification-symptoms-causes-treatments#1

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.

source: https://www.webmd.com/cancer/what-is-a-biopsy#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.

Angelina Jolie
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.

Cancer awareness ****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 PAChttp://www.poweraffiliateclub.com/do-you-have-lady-balls/

Chemotherapy

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.

source: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/chemotherapy

Radiation

Radiation

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.

source: http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/radiation

Finally, after 5 months, I am done with Chemo and Radiation!!!

Done Cancer treatment

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.

 

 

CTV Ottawa
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

Cancer awareness
UPDATE: My stepdaughter is an Chemical Engineer with ACL  Canada. She posted this recently on Facebook.

 

CNL’s Chalk River Laboratories
http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Canadian-organisations-to-produce-medical-isotope

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

source:  http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types

Canadian Cancer Information:

55 St Clair Avenue West, Suite 300, Toronto, Ontario

source:
http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/breast-cancer/?region=on

 

About Kathryn R. Maclean-Racicot  http://www.facebook.com/marketingofflineonline/
Blogger with WordPress /. A certified Social Media Campaign specialist using Facebook, Twitter Pinterest and Instagram.

 

 

Comments

  1. Oh my dear friend…
    You have gone through so much .. I have thought of you everyday .. I think you got “sick” of all the cards I was sending you .. but I wanted you to know I was with you. There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t think of you and hoped all would be okay … now we wait for the results my friend …

    • http://kathrynruth says

      My friend,
      Thank you for the many cards to cheer me up. I did love them, but I think you would still be mailing them if I hadn’t told you to stop. Sorry for that expense.
      I will be ok as I was one of the lucky ones who caught it very early on. I hope not to have any more to be done. Waiting for the genetic test results. I missed all the daily interactions with you and the PAC members. Hope to be around again soon.

      • LOL… yes I still would be sending you cards of thoughtful messages.. what will you do with them! The cost was worth every penny. There was never a second thought about it …. I live so far a way .. so reaching out to you, supporting you in some way .. was the best I could do in sending a weekly hug ….. I look forward to seeing more of you and I hope all is good now …

        • http://kathrynruth says

          In reply – I posted a collage of all the cards on Instagram.We do live far away in two very different countries. You have been a great support. I look forward to getting back into the swing of things asap. All is good my friend.

  2. Thank you for your transparency about this life challenge. It really helps others who have faced it to know they are not alone. It helps others realize they can get through it too. Wish you the best. God bless and heal you!

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Nancy,
      Thank you so much for that comment. When you are a blogger you get to know other bloggers and I thought I would say why the big disappearing act. Also as you say for others going through this terrible disease. If anyone would like to contact me with questions about breast cancer I am open to helping them.

  3. Kathryn, Wishing you the very best. it is great to hear from you. What a powerful message.

  4. Hi Kathryn,

    My prayers are with you. I don’t remember if I knew what you were going through or not. Sorry, I wasn’t there for more support. The 2nd to the last photo with that wonderful smile shows our Kathryn is coming back.

    Take care.

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Monna!
      I really didn’t make it known to much at the time. I did see you here and there and you were always supportive, whether you remembered or not I am coming back but I don’t know in how much of a capacity.
      You take care too.

  5. http://Hazel says

    Such an incredibly horrid thing to go through. Best wishes for a very speedy and full recovery.

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Hazel,
      You are correct. Very horrid. 4 mths of no sugar or salt, no taste to food. I could go on and on. I am on my way to a full recovery and it is starting to feel so GOOD! Thanks for your comments.

  6. Wishing you all the best for a permanent recovery. Thank you for your honest and informative share.

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Annette,
      I will be able to recover shortly as all treatments have been completed. Thank you for your comment on my article. I am glad you found it honest and informative.

  7. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Bill,
      I have been away but I think you are a member of PAC? Hope to be back soon. Thanks for your comment.

  8. Hi Kathryn,

    I didn’t know you went through all this. Please know that my prayers are with you for healing.
    I like this post because it gives so much hope to others. Sharing your story will inspire so many people and I thank you for that.

    Be well my friend,

    -Donna

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Donna,
      Thank you so much. I wanted to write this post so people knew why I was not around. Also for other women who may have to face this as well. It is a terrible disease as I can attest to. But breast cancer is not the dreaded disease that it once was. New discoveries are happening. In the near future women may only have to have surgery and radiation without chemo I heard recently on the news. Hopefully, it will be eradicated entirely.
      Thanks

  9. Hi Kathryn ,
    thank you for your post. I saw what it means going through all this as somebody near me had the same life challenge.In Germany I also did volunteer in a hospital were I helped to care for cancer patient. I wish you a good recovery ,take care of yourself and stay strong. I wish you all the best.
    Erika

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Erika,
      Thank you for those kind words! All too often our friends and loved ones face this challenge. How to wonderful have been a volunteer for Cancer patients in a hospital. I’m sure people loved your care and concern. Thank you, I am getting stronger every day now. Nice to hear from you.

  10. HI Kathryn,

    You are so brave to post your full experience on your blog. This will be a real comfort to others who are facing the same issues. Having attended the Truth About Cancer Live events in Houston and in Orlando, I have seen live examples of people who chose not to endure the traditional treatments. However, whichever way you go, it is not easy. The alternative path requires perhaps juicing 12x/day, one every hour plus other treatments. And, the treatments may or may not work in the end.

    We live in stressful times. I am so impressed with you for just doing what you felt had to be done. Now you are on the path to healing. Watch some of those health videos and take lots and lots of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables.

    Warmly,

    Erica

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Dr. Erica,
      You are such a warm person. I did want to reach out to people affected by cancer with this post. I did just that, did what had to be done. Now on the road to health and yes lots of healthy fresh fruit and vegetables, now that I can taste them again. Thanks for your warm comments.

  11. You are setting an example for other people. It will surely help the people who are also suffering from breast cancer. They will not feel alone. Your story also provides strength and hope to others. God bless you and get well soon. Also thanks for sharing your story to the whole world.

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Hi Rajkumar,
      I entered the article to give hope to other women facing breast cancer. When you are told you have cancer you have no idea of what lays ahead. If I provided strength and hope I am satisfied with sharing my story with the world. Thank you for your comments!

  12. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I hope you write once more very soon!

    • http://kathrynruth says

      Thanks nhan,
      You commented on a few posts, but I only included this one. I hope to write on my regular weekly basis soon.

  13. Dear Kathryn,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us throughout the various stages of your treatments, and also your personal thoughts and feelings which made the whole story very ‘real’ and raw, reading about a lady we love and admire having to face cancer, with all it’s traumas and uncertainties.
    You also brought in much useful information. positive thoughts and humour and I really wish you love and healing as you recover
    ♡ Jacs

    • Hi Jacs,
      Thank you so much for your very kind comments. That was not my usual article. It was very hard to do. I wrote it for other women who wold be going thru the same experience. The not knowing what is to happen to you when you are facing cancer is the worst feeling. At least I could write about what I experienced, though there are many different types of cancer and treatments I know. I always try to be a positive person when I can be.Truly it has not been easy. It takes more time to recover than I thought but I am feeling better each day. Happy to be back. ♡ Kathryn

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