Monday, February 22, 2010

Hello and welcome, my name is Catherine and this is my story of how I dealt with and beat breast cancer.

This blog was created for any woman who is starting treatment and looking for answers to the hundreds of questions flying through your head, or indeed for anyone who has been effected by cancer. I am hoping reading this will help
It started with me as an acute pain in my left breast which had also grown in size. A visit to my GP was the first step; having found no lump my GP arranged an appointment with the breast clinic for an examination as a precautionary measure. The doctor at the breast clinic also found no lump but decided to send me for a mammogram to find out what was causing the pain. I have to say at this point a mammogram is not a pleasant ordeal especially if you are already feeling tender but the test can be a life saver and only takes about 30 seconds per boob. My mammogram was scheduled for 10 o'clock in the morning and I was back in work by 11 o'clock. That same afternoon I received a phone call from the hospital asking if I could return the following day for an ultrasound as something had showed up from the mammogram. The rest of that day my mind was working overtime as to what could be wrong? There is no sign of a lump so what is happening?

I returned to the hospital the following day and had the ultrasound and was told the doctors meet and discuss all tests on Friday morning so an appointment was made for me to meet my doctor Friday afternoon to discuss the results of my tests.

The Results
Friday afternoon I was taken into an interview room with the doctor and a nurse and given the news I was dreading but strangely knew so my reaction was one of calm acceptance. I had breast cancer, the reason no lump was detected was because there was a cluster of tumors the size of my breast so I am thankful to this day that all doctors involved decided to go ahead with the testing.

That day the doctor explained what treatment would be required and told me I would need surgery to completely remove the breast, commonly known as a mastectomy. When he was sure I understood everything he left me in the hands of the nurse. I remember the nurse as being so supportive, she kept telling me it was OK to cry if I needed to and asking me if I understood all the doctor had explained. I think she was used to women falling apart and that's what she is there for, to comfort and support you but I had no tears that day all I wanted to know was when can I start treatment to kill this evil entity that was trying to take over my body. From that day forward I visualized the cancer as a living evil monster and the fight was on to see who would win.
The first step from there was to have a pet scan to see if the cancer had travelled to any of my organs because some of the lymphoids in my arm had shown positive and this is where the cancer would spread from. A pet scan is like a day at the spa, they ask you to lie down in a dimly lit room for about 20 minutes to relax cover you with blankets and have soft music in the background lovely, I was so relaxed by the time they came for me that I didn't want to move. The scan takes about 15 minutes and then you are on your way, very good for chill out time. The results take about a week to be sent to the doctor and for me that was a very long week, having to wait that long to discover if any of your organs have been infected can make your brain work over time. I am not a religious person but the night before my visit to the doctor for the results I prayed to God. Well my prayer was more like this "Please God give me a break, having to deal with breast cancer is enough right now and to tell the truth I am a bit pissed off with you, I am not a bad person so why do this to me?"
You see at this stage you are not thinking of the thousands of other women sharing the same experience as you and why would you! Its not until you start treatment and see how many people are in the same boat, young, old, men and women, you realize you are not a victim. As it turns out God did give me a break, the cancer had not travelled any further.
I now had to start preparing for my treatment to begin; the chemotherapy would mean hair loss so I went and had my hair cut short, bought a wig and some bandannas. I have to add if I was to do it again I would not have wasted my money on a wig, it is so uncomfortable and you are always afraid of it blowing off on a windy day even thought it is a tight fit. No, wigs are not for me thank you I always felt self conscious when I was wearing it.

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