Cancer History

OK, where do I start? I should really start at the beginning but I’ll try to keep it brief.

I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in 2009. After taking a while for this to sink in and decide what to do, I had 4 cycles of AC (doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide) and 4 cycles of Taxol, which unexpectedly shrank the huge lump so much I no longer needed a mastectomy, follwed by a lumpectomy and several weeks of radiotherapy. Like many cancer patients, I held things together pretty well during treatment but eventually things got to me. The final straw? Radiotherapy burns. That might seem trivial but they really upset me because I’d had enough. What got me throught that difficult time? My lovely family, friends, and the several bags of Haribo it took to get together enough energy to make it to the hospital for treatment.

My oncologist Dr H believed I’d been cured. I believed I’d been cured. Husband believed I’d been cured. As did my huge extended family and our friends.

But no.

After less than 18 months in remission and out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with secondary spread to my bones. This came as a huge and unexpected shock. All I could say to Husband was “I’m sorry.” Neither of us cried, we just wanted to know what was next and how long I might have left. Dr H refused to comment, saying that he was confident of a response but not remission. The median (most frequent) lifespan is 2-4 years but 10+ years is possible, and fully expected by Husband. So with the help and decades of experience of the fantastic Dr H we’re going for 10 years TO BEGIN WITH and then we’ll see what amazing new drugs have been developed in the meantime.

And now here I am, 6 cycles down of Avastin/carboplatin/gemcitabine with 2 to go, then 8 more of Avastin. Followed by…. Hopefully some recovery time before the next lot of chemo.

The news so far is that the chemo is working much better than expected, which has to be a good sign, with marked tumour shrinkage. But I knew that already, because gradually I’ve been able to walk again without pain and no longer resemble an old woman in her 80s shuffling down the road whenever I go out, stop all painkillers (I was on 3 different ones at one point) and sleep a mere 12 hours a day! Fingers crossed (any many prayers) that the next PET scan brings more good news.

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