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Breast cancer, how you can survive it
Breast cancer survival
This is about my experience with Breast Cancer survival. Not as the one with the disease, but as the spouse of the person with the disease. It's about everything we went through together. The emotions, and the treatments, the recovery from the treatments, the hope for the future, and the hope for others that you can survive breast cancer.
She found the lump in her regular home exam. At the time we thought it's probably just a cyst. She went to her doctor and the doctor said it was a lump but that it probably was not cancer, most women who have a lump and have a biopsy find out they don't have breast cancer. This added some uncertainty to the situation. Then you have to wait for the biopsy which was only a few days in our case, but It felt much longer.
We went to the hospital for the biopsy. They did the biopsy and we went home. We had to wait a couple of days for the results. The doctor called and said that he wanted to see us. That was when we started to get scared. We went and saw the doctor, he told us she had cancer. It 's hard to explain the feeling, it is devastating at first, it's like someone told you your going to die.That's not the case, but it feels like it.
He said he would go in and take the tumor out and then we will see what he finds. We were in shock for a while. I had to be positive for her. We thought, the doctor will make an incision and just take it out and it will be alright. We got ready for the surgery.
The Lump surgery
This was the second of my many times in the hospital waiting room. I think that was the worst part for me. Sitting in the hospital waiting room for hours and not knowing what's going on. She went in for the surgery and I waited. The doctor talked to us after the lump was removed and told us more bad news. He said the cancer had moved into the lymph nodes and that he recommended a mastectomy. Now the emotions are really going up and down. We can do this and it will have a good outcome. Then you think the worst also. It was one of the hardest times in my life.
Again I have to sit in the waiting room, this time for 6 hours. They tell you it will take about 4 hours or so. Every minute past 4 hours the worry level goes up and up. Finally after 6 hours the nurse says she's out of surgery and the doctor will be out to talk to me in a little bit.
I talk to the doctor and he said it went good and he thinks he got it all out. Finally some better news. The recovery from the mastectomy surgery is a long time. There is a lot of scaring and a lot of drainage from the incision. This surgery is a major deal, he removed a big part of her body. I don't remember exactly how long they let her recover before the chemotherapy but it didn't feel like very long.
Emotionally this time was easier. It seemed like we were getting better now. The day of the chemo and the next couple of days after were the worst part. After that it wasn't so bad. She got chemo then they let her recover for 2 weeks, then they do it again. It took 3 to 4 hours each time, and they did it 6 times. Then they asked her to try an experimental chemo that they were having good success with. We decided to go ahead. So she went 6 more times every 2 weeks.
The radiation treatment
The doctor said everything appeared to be good, but he wanted to do radiation also just to make sure that there was no cancer left. We didn't want the cancer to come back so we decided to do the radiation. This was another set of treatments that she got every weekday for 6 weeks. The only side effect from this was almost like a sunburn on her skin. A sunburn that lasted for several years. It possibly did some nerve damage that wasn't evident until much later, it could have been the chemo also.
After the radiation I was reading everything I could find on breast cancer, i found articles about an herb called essiac, that has been used to treat cancer in Canada with some great results. It could also be taken to prevent cancer. I checked it out more and found it was very inexpensive to get. The pill form cost about $14 per month. I got her some and she started taking it. I don't know if it did anything to help, but she still takes it, 12 years later, it has no side effects that we have seen.
After 2 years with all good cancer checks. She decided she didn't like the way she looked with the mastectomy, and wanted to have it fixed. I didn't like the thought of more surgery, but I understood how she felt.
I got to sit in the hospital waiting room 4 more times over the next 2 years. The first one was the biggest, it took about 5 hours. They took a piece out of her abdominal area and remade a new breast. She got a nice flat stomach out of the deal also. The doctor did an amazing job. The advances in reconstruction surgery is really amazing.
It's been 12 years now and she is doing great. It's was a lot to go through. I am just so thankful that the technology was there so we could go through it and have a great outcome. Breast cancer is a scary disease because it is so common. There is no way to know if you will be next. And no way to try and prevent it. The wonderful thing now is that breast cancer survival is possible, they can save many women who get it. I will always be grateful to the wonderful doctors that we had, I thank God for them often.