Updated: Feb 19, 2018
There is no other way to say that getting a cancer diagnosis turns your world upside down. You can let your mind go completely to opposite ends of the earth with all kinds of scenarios. Death will always take the top spot on the worry chart. People will say, “Cancer is not a death sentence.” They are right, it is NOT a death sentence. I wholeheartedly believe this. What I will say, it definitely makes you put all your priorities in order. Cut the fluff and focus on yourself first. Once it was confirmed that the tumor was breast cancer. I wanted to pinpoint my treatment and get started. The warrior in me was challenged and I was ready.
My FACTS and DIAGNOSIS I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in my right breast and my lymph nodes in my right axilla and under my pectoral muscle have also been compromised. This type of breast cancer starts in the milk ducks. Of the 180,000 women that are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, this type of breast cancer has the highest percentage. 70% of women who are diagnosed realize something is wrong when they feel it in their lymph nodes. Also, men can get this type of breast cancer. Self check daily, in the shower, get a mammogram if you are past the age of forty, or unless you have family history of breast cancer, this may require that you start as soon as 35. If breast cancer runs in your family like it does mine, genetic testing gives you the opportunity to have a proactive role in your prevention and detection. Check with your health care insurance to see if your testing is covered.
It was on Monday, March 7th that I was told that my IDC was told of my Hormone Receptor Status that included three markers to determine my cancer treatment. I was ESTROGEN and PROGESTERONE POSITIVE. First of the two done. It was the Surgeon (little Note: Oncologist missing from title) at Pink Lotus that gave me my pathology results. The only missing piece from the pathologist was whether or not I was HER2 positive or negative. I would learn later this was a key part deciding my treatment. Pathology of the tumor is a big part of the diagnosis and the treatment protocol. Without it, your in the locker room. A continuation story to my previous entry was that my health insurance was not to kick in till Friday, April 1st. My doctor recommended to be placed on Tamoxifen. A hormone therapy drug and that should help to stop the growth of the tumor or spread beyond the lymph nodes. Well, that key missing piece, knowing if I was HER2 positive would also effect whether Tamoxifen would even work. When you are fighting cancer, you want to make sure that your doctor is an EXPERT in your type of cancer. A month later, the April 1st health insurance activation passed and I have not received a follow up call from her. Very telling. I would later learn that my initial treatment step wasn’t the best option. I will always be thankful for her role in the journey. Hindsight is always 20/20.
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS In the meantime I was determined to change my LIFESTYLE and create a body that was not a breading ground for cancer. Now I am all for using WESTERN MEDICINE to rid myself of breast cancer. But I am going to couple it with FUNCTIONAL HEALTH MEDICINE to aid in getting my body prepared and keeping it strong and healthy through this very toxic process of treatment. So I have #1- Cut the STRESS #2- Look at my DIET and remove cancer feeders and add foods that fight and prevent cancer #3- Add stress releasers, MEDITATION, YOGA and JOURNALING. #4- I was really good at EXERCISING when I was younger but horrible as an adult. WALKING is my go to way of moving. #5- CONNECTION with my family and friends. All I wanted to do was see the people who have always given me JOY, LAUGHTER and SUPPORT. I was on a mission to stop any growth of cancer. I stopped eating meat, started drinking alkaline water, making green smoothies, eating on time, trying to get 7-8 hours of sleep, taking supplements and vitamins, walking, meditation, yoga, reading, journaling and taking all of the information that was given to me from people I trusted and people who felt they wanted to share the information they knew. I was doing it all. I dropped everything and said, “I am first!” I was slowly getting the word out there. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Telling your truth is very raw. You don’t know how the other will react. But you realize when you take on the survivor mentality that’s ok but not to take it with you. A majority of the time you are immediately showered with love. It’s all you can ask for.
In those four weeks it was my task to get a ONCOLOGIST, a TEAM for at least the first stage of my treatment. Being that I was estrogen positive, CHEMOTHERAPY was the first stage vs SURGERY/ RECONSTRUCTION and RADIATION would be last. I could wrap my head around that. The idea of surgery first was mind blowing. When the doctor started talking about surgery her voice became the peanuts teacher, “wa wa wa wa” was all I could hear. The doctor at Pink Lotus was a surgeon. Note missing the “oncologist” part of the her title. If you don’t know the job description of an Oncologist. Here is the definition, the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This is an important key in the title of your doctor. She gave me her treatment and technically the next step would be to see a medical oncologist. What I have come to learn is that most breast centers, the surgical oncologist is the first appointment. Then the medical oncologist. It was at this time my red flags started to fly. When they go up, be still and listen. If not right there at the doctors office but after you leave. There is NO RUSH. You have time to get more opinions. You must be proactive in searching but you must get another opinion when that red flag goes UP. You must TRUST, have CONFIDENCE in their EXPERIENCE and REALLY LIKE your COACH. The SURGICAL