Breast Cancer 3rd time round

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Breast Cancer 3rd time round

Hi. I'm new to the Forum so I would like to share a bit about myself and the cancer I have.

I am 62 years old and was first diagnosed with stage 2 metastatic breast cancer in 2007. I had a mastectomy and a few lymph nodes removed, but did not need chemo or radiation (although in hindsight, I think I should have). I was also put on Tamoxafen and had regular yearly MRI's, ultrasound and mammograms. Life went along nicely and when I reached the seven year mark, we were all so elated and relieved that I had reached this milestone.

In that time, children grew up and, one by one left the nest and I completed a teaching degree. It was just after graduating in 2015 that a routine MRI showed lesions in the right underarm lymph nodes, the same side where I'd had the mastectomy done. We were all so baffled and devastated by this outcome, especially as I had passed the seven year cancer free mark.

The lymph nodes were removed (32, 14 had cancer in them) and I underwent chemotherapy for four months and radiation for five weeks. During that time, I was hospitalised three times, twice with a fever above 38 degrees and once for heart palpitation.  The treatment was brutal to say the least but I came through it ok and again continued with my life, looking after my Mum who had dementia and working whenever I could.  She passed away in 2018  which (I thought at the time but little did I know) was a difficult year as my sister's husband was diagnosed with brain cancer.  He passed away in 2019.

Earlier this year I began experiencing what I thought was muscular pain on my upper chest, thinking it was a pulled muscle from exercising so hard at the gym and I would also feel quite tired and generally unwell but put it down to being busy with grandkids and working hard at the gym. I had a routine appointment with my oncologist in February, and explained my symptoms but he put it down to just being busy with life and my body wasn't the same after chemo, as what it used to be.  It wasn't until a month later when my husband insisted I get an x-ray or scan of my chest to see what the problem was. When I went to my GP to get a referral for an x-ray, she felt around the area where it was sore. I almost jumped from the pain which really concerned her. She sent me for a CT scan which showed lesions in the sternum. I thought "great. here we go again!" I had a further biopsy done and went to see my oncologist again where it was decided I commence radiation first until the biopsy results definitively showed what type of cancer it was. 

I went through all the process of being for the radiation treatment, when further biopsy results showed that the cancer was HER 2 Oestrogen positive.  According to both the chemo oncologist and radiation oncologist, this was good (?) news because targeted chemotherapy could be commenced which would target the cancer with Oestrogen blockers and I wouldn't need radiation therapy at this stage.  I had a porta-cath inserted because at this stage, my veins had shrunk and were difficult to find.

Of course during this time, Covid hit and we were in lockdown but I still commenced chemotherapy in May which went for 12 weeks.  The chemo wasn't as brutal as the first time round but I still did lose my hair, nails and sense of taste and all I wanted to eat was bread and home-made bread at that!

I still have three weekly Herceptin and Perjetta treatment and I've just had a post treatment PET scan done. I see the oncologist on Friday to see how things have been travelling and how we move forward with this. 

I feel well enough although I tire easily, but that could also be an age thing! I am lucky to have a supportive husband who is a pharmacist so is handy having around for his medical knowledge. My eldest daughter is also very supportive and would cook and do shopping when I wasn't well enough to. Apart from the cancer, I was also earlier this year diagnosed with asthma. I had been frequently coming down with chest infections which would start as a sore throat (nothing to do with Covid!) then progress to sinus infection, then chest infection. This had been happening a few times before my recent cancer diagnosis. In fact, a trip to Japan with my daughter last year, resulted in coming down with a chest infection, where I had to be treated at an International Medical clinic in Tokyo. Not a good way to spend a holiday!

My hair is growing back but I lost my nails which had not happened with the last chemo treatment. What experience has anyone else had with regards to losing their nails during or after chemo treatment? There is about 4 mm of nail growing atm but because the nails are ragged and short, if I accidentally bump my fingers while doing something, it's quite painful. I wear gloves for washing up but even just day to day activities causes my fingertips to become quite sore and tender.

I have resorted to putting acrylic nails on which I do myself as I have done a nail course in the past. Having the acrylic nails on does help but of course they only stay on for a week or so then have to be redone again. They are not perfect as I don't have the same equipment nail salons do but I am reluctant to go to a nail technician as I find they buff the natural nail away too much and you're left with soft thin nails. I guess I'll just have to keep doing them myself and wait for my own nails to grow back again.

Have a safe, happy day everyone. Cheers

 

 

 

 

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Occasional Contributor

Re: Breast Cancer 3rd time round

 

Hello Jomus07,

 

Thank you for sharing your story, it is so helpful to people like myself who are trying to learn about cancer and all the small but important details involved. My best friend has stage 4 cancer that begun as breast cancer, so I am trying my hardest to learn what I can. 

 

Blessings to you,

 

Jessika

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New Contributor

Re: Breast Cancer 3rd time round

Hi Jessika

 

Thank you for your kind words. It is always gratifying to have a friend (and family of course) close by your side when diagnosed with cancer. The more you understand what your friend is going through, the more supported she will feel.

You are a good friend for wanting to find out as much as possible, and she will be most grateful that you have taken an interest in what is going on with her.

At times though, while going through treatment or whatever, it's just nice to have a friendly ear to offload any concerns the cancer patient may have. So don't stress or feel as though you should know everything about cancer (none of us do! It's a difficult disease to understand anyway!). Just lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on is enough.

Take care and all the best to your friend.

 

Jomus

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