Cancer! Me?

Two weeks later I went back to my surgeons office to have my drain removed. Dr Alexander had round, pink face and kind eyes. As I was getting ready to leave the office, he suddenly said to me “Look, if I can get your results from pathology today, would you want to find out?” Would I? Of course. He went into his office, closed the door and phoned the pathologist’s office. I could hear him speaking but could not make out what was being said. I don’t know how many minutes went by but it seemed like an eternity. During that wait I thought about how I would react if he told me that my lymph nodes were involved. Would I be brave or would I break down into tears? How would I manage chemotherapy with 2 little ones? Would I be able to work? How would I look without hair? As all these thoughts were rushing through my head, I suddenly heard Dr. Alexander let out a loud “Yes” and pump his fist onto his desk! I took that as a good sign and I was smiling by the time he came back into the room. The cancer had not spread to my nodes and my margins were now clear after the second surgery. I would have to undergo radiation treatments but no chemotherapy was required. I gave him the biggest bear hug!

He told me that the type of breast cancer I had was Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma, which means that the cancer has spread outside the milk duct. I learn that there are many different kinds of breast cancer and what I have is considered common. I guess I might agree but when it is happening to you it doesn’t seem so common!

Okay, so onto healing for 2 weeks and then begin radiation. I was so relieved that I wasn’t having chemo, and that I didn’t really consider how radiation would affect me, but when I went for my first appointment to be prepped for treatment and came out a few hours later with red and black markers on most of my upper torso, I knew that this was serious stuff! Also, in those days the radiation department was in the basement of the hospital. It was a depressing place with gray, cold cinder block walls. I soon began to refer to it as the dungeon and I learned years later that I was not the only patient that used that reference. Everyone was very nice but boy did I hate going in there everyday! I went back to work the first day of radiation. Not a great idea but we had a mortgage, babies to feed and bills to pay. Taking more time off was not an option. So my schedule for the next six weeks went like this. Up at 5:30 am to get myself ready for work before the boys woke up. Then dress and feed the boys before dropping them off at my parents house and then to work in time for my 8:00 patient. Work, radiation, pick up the boys, home, dinner, baths, playtime, bedtime. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it.

Now, I remember someone mentioning along the way that I might experience fatigue. Might!!! About 3 weeks into treatment I am dragging. I am so tired that I could have laid down on the sidewalk and fallen fast asleep. I mentioned this to one of the Radiologist at the Hospital and he suggested that maybe an exercise class might help. Are you kidding me? When would I fit that into my schedule? Midnight? Anyway I push through the rest of my treatment and fortunately other than fatigue and some slight burning of the tissue there are few side effects. I am so fortunate that we had such a wonderful support group with our family and friends. They were always there for us which was such a gift.

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