n June of 2010 at the age of 58, i started experiencing strange things in my right arm. After visiting with my doctor that June, he confirmed my suspicion that I had a spider bite. I was put on a regiment of antibiotics, sent home and told to come back to the doctor in 10 days. The 10 days came and went, the swelling did not go down, I was then sent for tests for Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis. All of these tests came back negative. These tests took from June through September, 2010. Over the next few weeks my breast started to grow in size, it became black and blue, the pain was now excruciating. I started my research on the Internet and found the Inflammatory Breast Cancer link on the National Institute of Cancer site. As I scrolled through I found a picture of "Peau L'Orange". I yelled for my husband to come and see this page, and I said, very sadly: "this is what I have". I was devastated! The very next day I called my doctor who asked me to come in and I showed him the printout and said this is what I have. He immediately told me not to jump to any conclusions. There are very many infections that mimic these effects. He had me walk over to a surgeon who did a biopsy of my lymph nodes and my breast. It was Monday. All week we waited for the results to come back. Friday, September 17, 2010 @ 4:45pm the call came through. The lymph node biopsy was positive for cancer. It was my husband's 41st birthday. The next day was our anniversary. I spent the day doing as much research as I could on IBC. There wasn't much. Data indicated that 2-3% of all breast cancer is inflammatory. I came upon the site for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Further research indicated that IBC is typically diagnosed at Stage III until all scans are done. CTCA had a person online ready to chat with me. I explained what was happening, she called me and we spoke on the phone. She said she could arrange for me to have a tour of the facility the very next day which was Sunday. I agreed and went and toured the facility. It is impressive. You have your entire team in one location. Your results take minutes for lab work or a few hours for the kore comprehensive tests, I.e. pet Scans; and you have all of the necessary services in what looks like a hotel rather than a hospital.
Monday the call comes in that my breast biopsy has come back positive for IBC. I go back to my doctor's office and ask for next steps. The surgeon said they would refer me to an Oncologist. I stopped, thought about my weekend, thanked him and told him that I would take charge of my healthcare from this point forward. We got in the car and I called CTCA and set up my first appointment. They had me come in immediately.
I had scans, MRI, lab work. It was like a whirlwind of activity that week. I got my first cycle of chemotherapy the following Wednesday. The treatment plan was aggressive chemo, I was Stage IV and no surgery in the immediate future was being recommended. My tumor markers began at 643. Within 6 months the markers were 114. I was excited, the chemo was working. There was a caveat. Under FDA regulations, there are certain chemos which you can only have a couple of times because of the side effects which would kill you. That sounds funny I know The chemo I was on causes congestive heart failure. I had my 2 doses of that and while effective, we had to move on to other chemos.
Today, my tumor markers are at 954. It's been 18 months of intensive chemo, plus I've had spreading to my brain, right hip, kidney, liver, tailbone, lymph nodes between the lungs and my left eye. I'm still fighting the fight. I start a new cycle of radiation and chemo tomorrow, in the hopes of reducing these tumors. My lymph nodes are so painful in my right arm that I am also starting Cold Laser treatments to my right arm in the hopes of regaining its use.
I thank God for the large prayer team I have had working with me during this journey. I know that GOD has a plan for my life and this journey is just a way for me to show Him how much I trust Him with my life and how it is so important that we as Christians “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart[s] and lean not to [our] own understanding.” Prov. 3:5
“Breast cancer affects one out of every eight women in their lifetime.”spread the word