I was diagnosed in 2007 with "extreme risk invasive lobular carcinoma of the right breast". At the time it was diagnosed, the cancer was stage III (pT3 pN1 M0), ER3+ PR3+ HER2 neu negative.
I had been getting mammograms regularly (every 2 years) and despite this, the tumour was able to grow to larger than 5 cm within that time.
I had already lost 3 of my closest friends to breast cancer, so I was in a complete state of shock when I got the diagnosis. In addition, my best friend of 40 years was in treatment for leukemia. (Unfortunately, Grace did not make it).
At the time of diagnosis, I was living in an isolated community in central British Columbia. There were no oncologists in the community and no support groups. There was one GP with some training in prescribing and administering chemotherapy. I had to travel at my own expense for surgeries and the radiation. The Canadian Cancer Society was able to put me in touch with another survivor by phone. I don’t know what I would have done without her regular phone calls.
I went through 3 surgeries, 4 months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. This was followed by Femara for 5 years. I have another 1 ½ years to go. I have not yet returned to work. The chemo left me with nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy) in my hands and feet, and the surgery and radiation left me with damage to lymph nodes, nerves and ligaments in my chest wall and underarm. This caused lymphedema, which is an ongoing issue. I live every day with chronic pain, but I have learned to deal with it.
I am just beginning, after 4 years, to come out of the fear and depression. My husband was supportive, but there is nothing like a female friend for support during life’s difficult times. Unfortunately, I have lost most of my closest friends.
I am now 64 years of age, unemployed, and considering moving closer to my family of origin. As I do not have children, I feel the need to be more connected with my sister and nieces. I am even considering returning to work. Life is becoming more promising and I am learning to take each day as it comes.
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