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Recently diagnosed with breast cancer

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  • #21
    We will all be thinking of you and please keep us posted. I don' know if you believe in this sort of thing, but I did take arnica before my surgery, and compared to a lot of on line stuff I read, I did pretty well. I was pacing the floors to get out at 6 am the next morning. And I rode 10 days later. Don't let some of the things you read scare you. Us horse gals are tough!
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


    • #22
      Been there...... done that...... you WILL be fine!

      Last March I was diagnosed with a Stage II Grade 3 tumor (3.4cm??) in my right breast that they thought was just a cyst as well. And I was 35 with no history of breast cancer in either side of my family! Just my lucky day I guess ;-).

      Had the offending boob ripped out within 9 days, and started chemo about four weeks after that. Given that it was a grade 3 tumor they recommended what I call "chemo-max" as opposed to the "chemo-lite" if it was a lesser grade. It was an interesting time for sure..... I did 6 treatments 3 weeks apart, the first 3 were chemos with the initials "FEC" - sorry, don't have the exact details of which ones they were, and the first few days after were fine, then uncomfortable for about 5 days (flu-like, nausea, general tiredness), and then probably about 90% 'normal' for the next two weeks. Honestly, I felt a bit guilty being off work ;-). Didn't throw up once, and actually GAINED weight through the whole process. Darn steroids. Started to lose my hair after the first treatment, so had it all shaved off before the second. Was kindof a cool feeling to get 'clipped' ;-).

      Second set of 3 treatments were a bit harder. It was the "D" chemo, docetaxel or something like that?? Still same pattern, fine for a few days, then quite uncomfortable for about 5 days, then ok for the next two weeks. By the 5th and 6th treatments though, my stamina was shot. Couldn't make it up a set of stairs without pausing, couldn't bend my joints, and had lovely fluid buildup all through my body. Felt like a water filled balloon! My last chemo was in August, and I could feel, week to week how much better everything was starting to feel. It's now, what, February, and I honestly feel 95% back to where I was, with only lingering joint pain (and an extra 20 pounds) still around.

      It's great that you are able to get the reconstruction at the same time. Mine is scheduled for the end of February, and I'm getting them to take the other boob out as well (they found lumps in it just after Christmas, and even if they are benign this time, I'm not sitting around with a ticking time bomb in my chest!). Not looking forward to that, but if it's anything like the last time, then it's definitely tolerable. It hurt of course, but wasn't nearly as debilitating as I thought it would be. Us horse folks are tougher than the average I think!

      Now of course, the most important aspect. Horses!! I had to take a month off after the surgery to let the area heal, and for about a month after that I didn't have the upper body strength to tack my horse up myself (raising arms above rib height was hard....) or even putting a halter on, but luckily had friends and the barn workers that would help me with that. My mare was luckily very easy going about it all, since for the most part we just walked around.

      I was able to ride all through chemo, but obviously didn't during what I called "the week of hell" each time, since I barely left my couch :-/. My oncologist just begged me not to jump, as she was scared of what a fall could do to my already pathetic immune system, which I easily complied with. I was just happy to be able to get on. Again that whole lack of stamina thing didn't exactly make me want to do more than walk around, but better than nothing.

      As for working around the horses, weeks 2 and 3 I was able to do most things myself, but wouldn't have been able to have the strength/stamina if one of the horses decided to do something naughty either on the ground or in the saddle. Luckily I'm surrounded by good people that would help me out, but I would strongly suggest that you make sure that you have others around to help pull a stuck foal out or catch a feisty mare as you might not have it in you.

      As others have said, chemo and surgery affects everyone differently, and as weird as it sounds, I hope you have it as easy or easier than I did. Drugs are your friend and definitely ask for the good stuff. My oncologist's goal was to make sure I didn't throw up once, and although there were a few close calls, I was stubborn enough to want to meet her expectations :-). She swore by a drug called Zofran and that plus the Dex really kept my nausea in check. Also something called Maxeran to keep the guts moving since everything wants to just shut down....

      Anyhow..... just relaying my story in the hopes that it helps. I'm coming up to my one year anniversary of finding my lump (Feb 18th) and it's been an interesting ride.

      Chin up, you're tough, your mares need you, and you WILL be fine! PM me if you ever need anything!



      • #23
        Forgot to add. The hardest part for me was between diagnosis and surgery. Like you, I just wanted them to get the cancer OUT! Screw test and diagnostics, how do we know it's not spreading while we sat around!!! They weren't sure if it had travelled to my lymph nodes (it hadn't) but I was absolutely paranoid that if it hadn't already, that it would while we were waiting...... Once the tumour was out and we had a plan of attack everything just started to fall into place.


        • #24
          I hope that your surgery goes extremely well, and that you can start to feel the relief mentally, once the cancer mass is gone from your body.
          I was diagnosed in November and had my surgery the first week of December. I had a full right breast mastectomy because I had 3 very agressive, fast growing tumors in my breast.They removed all my lymph nodes as well.
          I felt the same way that you do right now.......I wanted the tumors removed from my body asap, because they were growing so quickly. I was feeling paniced because things were not happening fast enough before my surgery. The stress was making me extremely tired and sick.
          From a breast cancer publication - Quote;''In reality.........by the time a cancer is detected as a 1 cm lump, it contains about one billion cells and has likely been growing for 2 to 8 years.''
          So the extra weeks it takes to get thru the tests, biopsies, etc, may not have much bearing on how quickly the cancer can spread( since you first detected it).

          It is 2 months tomorrow, since I had my surgery. I feel great now and very well equipped mentally, to continue my battle!
          I went in for surgery at 8:00am, and was discharged by dinner time the same day! The anesthetist also gave me a number of nerve blocks in my rib cage area during surgery, and this procedure helped me cope with pain for an extra 18 hours post surgery. You do have to give your permission for this procedure, but it was a huge relief for pain management! I would recomend that you discuss this option before your surgey as well.

          My plastic surgeon stepped in as soon as the breast surgeon completed the mastectomy. He placed a tissue expander in my chest..........it just feels like a big rubber ring/disc, no pain now.

          The plastic surgeon does not want to finish my reconstruction, until I have finished my radiation treatments. He told me that the radiation can damage the new tissue grafts.
          So after radiation, it will be a progressive 3 month process to rebuild the breast, and use tissue from my lower abdominal area.
          I have office visits to gradually inflate the tissue expander before the final implant/reconstruction.You may want to discuss this with your plastic surgeon.........waiting for full reconstruction until after radiation.

          I also want to advise you to follow the directions that they give you after surgery...........no lifting of anything over 10lbs for 6 weeks after surgery! You run the risk of developing Lymphedema, and it is so not worth the risk.
          You may want to hire some good help for foaling.........very important that you do not overdue it after surgery. I know you must love foaling season, but be kind to yourself this year.

          I overdid things too soon after surgery, and I had to have the full drain remain stitched in my chest for over a full month! That was not fun, and it is awkward to hide the tube/drain device in my pants/underwear for so long. You have to empty and record fluid amounts daily......it is a long process if things don't go well.
          So please don't consider doing your horse chores/foaling fully.........concentrate on your post surgery exercises and gradually work your way back to horse chores later.

          Follow a breast health nutrition guide, as you likely will have to be aware of staying away from estrogen promoting foods, supplements etc ;ie; Flax Seed, Soya products as they contain phytoestrogens.
          Quote:''Many natural health products contain hormones( also known as plant estrogens) and therefore may not be recomended for women with breast cancer. Consult your doctor first before using these products''.

          Best wishes to you!!
          Keep positive, and you will feel much better once your surgery is over. I am already on Tamoxifen now, and the next stage of the journey is not nearly so overwelming now!
          Please feel free to contact me if you need to talk.

          PS.....the Canadian Cancer Agency gave me a large folder of information, and a really great full size book - The Intelligent Patient Guide to Breast Cancer.
          This book was an incredible resource for me to read, and I would highly recomend it to anyone.
          email; info@ipguide.com
          or write Suite 30, 3195 Granville st., Vancouver, B.C. V6H 3K2
          Your American Cancer Assc. likely will give you similar reading material.


          • Original Poster

            Thank you so much! I really appreciate all of the support and positive outcomes. My surgery is officially scheduled for a week from tomorrow, Feb 11.
            I am feeling positive about my treatment plan and am very anxious to get my boobs chopped off now that they have turned on me.
            www.learntolikepink.com my journey with breast cancer


            • #26
              ..........You go Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!

              Your attitude is awesome!
              If you are just over 50 and into menopause like me.......you will be happily suprised to know that your reconstruction will include a free ''lift'' ( we tend to get a bit ''saggy'' with age) and a partial ''tummy tuck''( if they use skin/tissue from your lower abdoman)!
              The book I mentioned has some incrediable photos of reconstruction results It is very encouraging........they can look great!

              I will be thinking about you on Feb. 11th and sending all the healing thoughts I can to you, from a fellow horse lady.............

              My own Mother fought stage 4 breast cancer at age 64, beat it completely and lived another 14 years.
              You can do it too!!!


              • #27
                Gen, I concur that Zofran was very effective fighting nausea. I had treatments 3 weeks apart and never threw up once. I did feel a bit "sea sick" a couple of times, but really nothing bad. I agree with not lifting anything in order to avoid lymphedema. I have met women who had it and had to wear the compression sleeve all the time. Not fun in warm weather.

                I totally remember the "wanting it out yesterday". I was lucky that 13 years ago I had the diagnostic one day and surgery 9 days later.
                Times have changed and the wait is longer now.
                You are such a strong and positive person. I am hoping your mares know to foal on their own!


                • #28
                  Originally posted by genevieveg17 View Post
                  So many people have been supportive and offering advice. I have been told to take Turmeric capsules to slow the tumor growth and to drink raw apple cider vinegar to raise my body's pH.
                  Taking any herbal remedy while on chemo can have serious negative results. Make sure your Dr knows about all the meds you are taking including Herbals.

                  "Emend" is a very effective anti emetic drug that is sometimes gven with certain types of chemo.

                  You may be given dex to prevent allergic reactions,again depends on chemo drug.

                  During chemo you may be given injections to help raise white or red cell counts. You may even need a transfusion if your counts become too low. The only point of wearing a mask would be if your counts are low which could make you prone to infection.

                  Reconstructive surgery is a great option but be aware that the process takes months to complete and can be painful or uncomfortable.

                  I saw a comment to avoid lifting anything heavy for 10 weeks after surgery. Lymphedema can occur months or years after surgery if the surgery involved removal of lymph nodes. Depending on your situation your doctor may advise that you lift nothing heavy on the side(s) with lymph node removal for EVER.

                  Make sure you discuss all questions with your Doctor or Oncology Team. If you do not understand an instruction or why you are taking a medication keep asking questions till you do understand.

                  Good luck !!
                  Fan of Sea Accounts


                  • #29
                    Here is one woman's beautiful answer to a double mastectomy. May not be for everyone, but this is gorgeous.
                    Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                    Now apparently completely invisible!


                    • #30
                      I hope surgery went well. A good resource is breastcancer dot org. The chat room is probably the best place if you have questions because the women in there have done or seen it all and know which direction to usually point you. ABSOLUTELY follow the docs directions for recovery. Yes, ask questions but don't ignore something that you are told. Just as we wouldn't put a horse with a bow back into full work the day after stem cell treatment, so you need to follow slowly yourself. It will honestly be faster. Let people help you. We know you're tough but let people do some of the work so you save yourself for where it counts. You will get through this one day at a time. And don't worry if you're not always positive. It's okay to be annoyed at the world some days. It has absolutely no effect on the outcome but being active does make a difference. Hope all went well.


                      • #31
                        Flash, surgery is next Monday!


                        • #32
                          Agree that the forums on breastcancer dot org are great. My one personal opinion though is that the posters that those who post about post-op recovery tend to be the ones with the problems. My surgery and recovery went much much more smoothly than reading the majority of those posts had me thinking.

                          Other than that observation, the forums are fabulous. They are a wealth of information about everything you want to know about breast cancer. And some of those posters have really done the research and you can tell they are smart. Just like these COTH forums!
                          Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by ToTheNines View Post
                            Agree that the forums on breastcancer dot org are great. My one personal opinion though is that the posters that those who post about post-op recovery tend to be the ones with the problems. My surgery and recovery went much much more smoothly than reading the majority of those posts had me thinking.

                            Other than that observation, the forums are fabulous. They are a wealth of information about everything you want to know about breast cancer. And some of those posters have really done the research and you can tell they are smart. Just like these COTH forums!
                            Absolutely agree with you nines, that's why I suggested chat room instead. It has a completely different mind set than the discussion board. You also get more privacy since your discussion is not kept for all to see at a later time.


                            • #34

                              Sending Jingles laced with strength ~ AO ~
                              Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                              • #35
                                When I was diagnosed ( I'm a 12 yr survivor) I had 2 phone conversations with different people who were fairly recent breast cancer survivors. Both were friends of friends. I'd met them at different times but wasn't really anything more than just aquanted with them. I Was able to ask questions, have them tell me about their experiences. It was nice because they weren't complete strangers, but they were also not someone who was going to tip toe around me or feel bad for me. They were people who'd heard about me from our mutual friends and told them to give me their phone numbers and to feel free to call if I wanted to talk to someone. I found these conversations very helpful in those early days and I always offer to do the same when I hear friends talk about someone with breast cancer.


                                • #36
                                  Having both breasts removed and reconstructed is really a plus. The doctors can make both breast look alike, which they can't do in a single reconstruction. Both my natural and fake boobs look great, they just look like they belong on different people ...
                                  Don't overdo. See how your body reacts to the chemo. I had a tough time at first, but it got easier with each session. My body seems to adjust to being poisoned. Friends had the opposite reaction - fine at first but the cumulative effect was tough.


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by hastyreply View Post
                                    When I was diagnosed ( I'm a 12 yr survivor) I had 2 phone conversations with different people who were fairly recent breast cancer survivors. Both were friends of friends. I'd met them at different times but wasn't really anything more than just aquanted with them. I Was able to ask questions, have them tell me about their experiences. It was nice because they weren't complete strangers, but they were also not someone who was going to tip toe around me or feel bad for me. They were people who'd heard about me from our mutual friends and told them to give me their phone numbers and to feel free to call if I wanted to talk to someone. I found these conversations very helpful in those early days and I always offer to do the same when I hear friends talk about someone with breast cancer.
                                    I had this same experience, and it was very helpful--talking to someone who doesn't know you, just knows their experience and isn't afraid to share it with you. PM any of us who can do this for you, we'd be happy to talk!
                                    "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                    Spay and neuter. Please.


                                    • #38
                                      Yes, absolutely, pm any of us if you want! I can tell you about the one step reconstruction if you want.
                                      Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


                                      • #39
                                        I'm Stage 4, diagnosed 2 1/2 years ago. Different treatment plan since my BC had already metasticized but a few pieces of advice:

                                        1. Let people help you! It's not about how strong or capable you are. Your friends and family love you and the same way you want surgery NOW to feel you're doing something to fight, they'll be looking for ways to help you fight. Find things you can let them do- meals, night watch of mares, etc. Believe me, everyone benefits.
                                        2. There have been countless studies that show people will always return to their baseline level of happiness- usually in about six months. When you're feeling physically or emotionally crappy, remember that it will pass. Knowing that, allow yourself time to adapt. If you want to self medicate with chocolate or a nice glass of wine (chemo permitting), as long as you're being healthy otherwise go for it. The only thing you should not give yourself permission to do is pass on time with the people & activities that make you happy.
                                        3. Get enough sleep. Squeeze in cat naps & even on good days make 8 hours a priority. You're not going to have the reserves your used to so an extra cup of coffee won't cut it.
                                        4. If you're pre-menopause low doses of Effexor have been shown to significantly improve night sweats & hot flashes.
                                        5. Explain your equine lifestyle to your doctor. If you explain the physical activities that are most important to you, they can help you work through solutions.

                                        I'll be thinking of you on the 11th. Feel free to PM.


                                        • #40
                                          Best wishes for your surgery and other treatment.