What it looks like to fight breast cancer.

Newly diagnosed? Supporting a patient? Just curious about that #cancerwarrior life?

Here’s a look at my cancer journey.


Family History

My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 80. I've always been told that because of the age of her diagnosis, the disease wasn't considered genetic. 

My particular diagnosis is not considered genetic. 

I did have genetic testing to confirm I don’t carry the BRCA mutation, and I do not. My genetic test included the full panel of cancer genes and only one variance was identified.


The Diagnosis

Invasive ductal carcinoma, HER2+ (ER/PR negative)

The tumor was in my left breast and 6cm in size, which automatically categorized me as Stage 3. One lymph node was biopsied positive for cancer, and only one lymph node had to be removed during surgery. We assume these were one in the same.


Treatment Plan

All treatment is under the care of an incredible team at UNC Rex Healthcare.

April - July 2018

Six rounds of chemotherapy, which included Taxotere and Carboplatin. A standard treatment of care of HER2.

At the same time, I also started targeted therapies for HER2 - Perjeta and Herceptin.

August 2018

Double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. Tissue expanders will be in for a full year before an exchange.

Read the blog post on my pathology report!

October - November 2018

I completed 28 rounds of radiation.

March 2019

Completed Herceptin and Perjeta treatments - concluding all active treatment!

As of March 2019, I’m on a quarterly maintenance plan, checking in with my oncologist to review any side effects or symptoms I’m experiencing.


How was it found?

I noticed an odd vein in my chest a couple of week before I found the mass. It was just a vein I had never seen before. I assumed maybe it was something from working out. I made a mental note of it and that was it.

On Sunday, March 25, after a hot yoga class, I noticed discoloration on my left breast. It was a blueish purple and slightly raised - kind of like it was a scar that was healing (although I had no reason to have a scar). Later, my doctor would tell me it appeared to be a hemangioma.

After noticing the discoloration, I did a self exam and immediately noticed the mass. It was dense and distinct. It wasn't on the right side.

Saw my OB Monday. He had me into a specialist Tuesday. I was diagnosed Wednesday.

Because my tumor is considered aggressive, it literally likely popped up in a short period of time.



FAQs

Why are you not having surgery before chemo?

Because my cancer is "aggressive," there's a strong likelihood that rogue cancer cells are floating around looking for a place to land. By having chemo first, I'll kill those cells; thus, I'll have a lower likelihood of cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

Has the cancer spread to other parts of your body?

Miraculously, no. My bone scan was clear. 

We had a scare with a 4 cm tumor on my liver, but praise God, it's a focal nodular hyperplasia.

How do you do a self exam?

Here are easy ways to make sure you're checking yourself often for changes.