Part One of My Breast Cancer Journey

Because this is a new blog, and will now be my preferred method of getting information out to those needing it, I am going to give a recap of what I call Judy’s Journey!  All of this info (and even MORE!) can be found in the forum.  The forum will remain, but has been locked for several years because of spammers attacking it.

Here we go!

June 13, 2007 – x-ray of lower back and mammogram because I had a lump on left breast that showed up two weeks prior, and also had been having severe back pain for a year or so.

June 15, 2007 – diagnosed with breast cancer by Internal MD, who said it appeared to be in stage 2.

July 3, 2007 – underwent surgery to have mastectomy of right breast.  Surgeon could not find mass, so he sewed me up and scheduled me for a mammotome

July 20, 2007 – Mammotome biopsy

July 30, 2007 – modified radical mastectomy of right breast.  Removal of 24 lymph nodes, 14 with cancer in them

August 10, 2007 – saw local breast cancer oncologist who said it looked like I was in stage 3 and ordered a port to be put in, a MUGA scan, a bone scan and a CT scan.  She also scheduled me for chemo to begin on 8/28/2007.  Aggressive treatment with four cycles of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, followed with 4 cycles of Taxol on dose-dense regimen every 2 weeks.

August 14, 2007 – had CT scan

August 16, 2007 – bone scan

August 27, 2007 – CT and PET Scans

August 30, 2007 – drains removed from right breast from mastectomy

August 31, 2007 – local breast cancer oncologist went over scans with me and husband Tom.  She said I was in stage IV of metastatic, ER Positive invasive ductal carcinoma of the right breast.  She said it was not curable and the median life expectancy was 2-3 years.  Bone scan showed cancer in L4, left 6th & 7th ribs and right femur.  Also showed “at least 4 adjacent hypermetabolic lesions in the left middle to lower abdomen” within the omentum.  Scheduled in one week to start chemo – Adriamycin and Cytoxan every 3 weeks.

September 2, 2007 – My dear friend Marilyn, called and told me to check into Cancer Treatment Centers of America.  I called, liked what I heard and set up an appointment immediately.  Now… watch how FAST things go from this point forward in comparison to up until this time!!

September 10, 2007 – Meet with Dr. Neelam at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, Illinois (CTCA) with my sister, Patti

September 13, 2007 – MRI of lumbar spine ordered by CTCA

September 14, 2007 – First cycle of Taxotere – also put on Tamoxifen – CTCA

September 25 – October 11, 2007 – 13 treatments of radiation locally

October 12, 2007 – Second cycle of Taxotere at CTCA with my husband, Tom

November 9, 2007 – Third cycle of Taxotere at CTCA with our daughter, Marianne

November 30, 2007 – Fourth cycle of Taxotere at CTCA with our son, Tommy

December 11, 2007 – Met with therapist for lymphadema – fitted for specialty german made sleeve

December 21, 2007 – Fifth cycle of Taxotere at CTCA with our son, Stephen.  Dr. Neelam said chemo was working and no cancerous activity seen!!

Age 50 for First Mammogram

I find it interesting and concerning that the recommended age for first mammogram is now 50 as opposed to the 35 it was when I was 35.

At age 48, I did not even know I had breast cancer when I was diagnosed, so to say we were surprised would be an understatement.

The tumor, while pretty large, was deep inside the breast and not palpable.  Lucky for me, (thank you Lord!) I got a purple lump on my LEFT side that would not go away, and during a regular checkup with my internal medicine doctor, I brought it up, along with increasing pain in my lower back which was hampering me when performing even the simplest of household chores like dishes and laundry.  She ordered an xray of my back and a mammogram.  It was later found that I had a large tumor on the RIGHT side and a metastatic tumor in my lower back – as well as in many other places.

Even though there was no history of breast cancer in my family, I followed the guidelines at that time to have a mammogram at age 35.  Once it was over, I swore I would never ever have another one because it was so painful!  I found out many years later that the reason it was so painful was because the place I had it done at did not have a clue how to do one any other way.  Had I gone to a “specialist” for mammography, it would have been less of an ordeal.

Had I followed up and had mammograms regularly after that first one…. who knows…. maybe the cancer would have been caught before it metasticized!!

So, based on MY personal experience, I say waiting until age 50 for your first mammogram is NOT a good idea!  Had I “waited” until age 50… chances are I would never have MADE it to age 50!!  I would have been long gone and pushing up daisies by then.

2011-breast-cancer-cases

Look at the above chart from cancer.org regarding incidents of breast cancer in the under 50 age groups and tell me you don’t agree!!

To your health,
Judy Gunderson

Celebrating 6 years!

After six years of “knowingly” living with Stage 4 Metastatic breast cancer, I finally realized that I am not going to die as quickly as the doctors told me I would (2-3 years), so I decided to be brave and start blogging about my experiences!

The first several posts I will be making will be going back in time to June of 2007 when I was first diagnosed.  I hope that this will not bore the heck out of my friends and family that are already aware of my saga!