Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Story - Part One

I have been trying to write "My Story", my cancer experience. I have been having a lot of difficulty getting it down so....maybe installments will encourage me to continue writing it. In order to understand fully, I think you need some background information first so:

I was married to a minister for 17 years. We had four children together. Not going into details, we began getting divorced in 2005. He freaked and turned psycho! Stalked me... broke into my house on a daily basis (get this, wearing surgical gloves).... hid a baby monitor under my dresser... violated the restraining order... police officers said they had never, ever seen such psychotic behavior... went to jail... It's all public record! Oh, no stress there! K, enough with that!

I met Kevin at work. We became great friends. With all the goings on with the soon to be ex, if he would ever stop fighting it, hereinafter called "Crazy", Kevin helped me keep my sanity through all of it. He would come over at a moments notice to deal with Crazy at 3 AM. He'd reconnect all the exterior lights on a regular basis. He'd walk through the house to make sure Crazy wasn't hiding in there. Obviously I relied on him a great deal.

I fell in love with him very quickly. I was scared to death because of a failed marriage already! But I loved him in a way I never could imagine loving anyone. Anyhow, Kevin moved in with us and I became pregnant. Ooops. Stress, stress! One stress after another, after another, after
another! Okay, enough background on to the story.....

In December of 2006 I was a newly divorced single mother of four and 26 weeks pregnant when my fiancé, Kevin, found a small lump in one of my breasts. I asked my OB/GYN about it immediately. He told me not to worry about it, even though I was a high risk pregnancy, he was certain it was just breast changes from being pregnant. I did remind him that my mother had breast cancer. He responded that my risk factors were very low. Dismissed.

About a week later Kevin and I both agreed that it was larger, almost twice as large. I asked my OB again he said, “We'll just watch it, don’t worry.” Days go by, now it was about four times the size it was when we had discovered it. Asked him AGAIN. Finally, he scheduled me for an ultrasound.

Three days later I'm big, fat, pregnant, single, at the hospital getting an ultrasound. Then they send me to get a Mammogram. They fitted me with a makeshift lead shield with the lead aprons to protect the baby. Then they sent me back to ultrasound again. The radiologist came in and told me “I don’t like the look of it AT ALL. I am extremely suspicious and we will need to do a biopsy as soon as possible. I would like to do it myself. How is Friday for you? It really doesn’t matter you need to be here on Friday.”

That Friday, January 13th!!! I had the biopsy. Oh My, Oh My, Oh My! Not nice! Unfortunately it was a bit deep! And of course I was alone. The poor valet wouldn't let me leave after the procedure. I was so faint. He sat me down...begged me to call someone to come and get me. I refused. Kevin was at work and I knew he wouldn’t be able to leave so I sucked it up. I pulled over a couple of times on the way home but made it safe and sound.

Monday evening I got the call from my OB. "Sorry Tammy, I sure didn't see this one coming! You have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. This is an extremely aggressive type of cancer so we really have to attack head on. You need to get a lumpectomy followed by Chemotherapy and Radiation. I'm going to call a surgeon friend of mine and get you in as soon as possible." Well, more was said but I only caught that first part. (Sigh) So, that was that.

The following week I met with the surgeon. He explained the procedure and the extra factors that had to be put in place due to the pregnancy. Later that week I had the surgery. They removed one-quarter of my breast. The surgeon was confident he had removed it all. Yay, good news! A 5cm x 5cm x 5cm section that he said was encapsulated (sp?). That's good! Pathology report came back with clear margins! YAY!!!!

Had a drain in it for nearly two weeks. Disgusting!!! My surgeon did a very good job! I had to have an axillary lymph node biopsy on the lymph nodes because I was pregnant and couldn’t have the dye required in the less invasive biopsy. He managed to get out 15 lymph nodes through just the one large scar. Brilliant surgeon.

The recovery from the surgery was fair. Lots of pain and some infection but hey the cancer is out! The pathologist confirmed that it was a very aggressive cancer and they did not like the
numbers at all but it was at Stage 2 and I only had 8 more weeks to go until Kiera could be delivered full term. I had appointment with the Oncologist and Radiation Oncologist that next week. The OB, Surgeon, Pathologist, Oncologist, and Radiation oncologist all had a meeting to “discuss my case”. WOW…very impressed…indeed I was…and a bit nervous! After lengthy discussion they all came to an agreement that we should wait to begin further treatment until after the baby came. They agreed to four weeks but my oncologist insisted on six, due to all the other risk factors (Asthma, Premature delivery before, I forgot the term but there is one for five of more children, and yes, advanced maternal age, yes I was 38!, Oh but also the new one, BCa- Breast Cancer).

Kiera matured very, very well. Her scheduled due date came and there we were getting induced. Guess she wasn’t quite ready because she sure did fight it for a while. I chose to have an epidural block. It helped with the progression, however, nearly killed me. Apparently he anesthesiologist gave me too much and it flowed up toward my head instead of down. Virtually
hibernating my heart and lungs. Oh, so not good! I had made my OB promise when I said it was time HE WOULD BE THERE! Well NOPE! FINALLY, he arrived and immediately there was the newest addition to our family! An absolutely BEAUTIFUL, itty, bitty baby girl.

Okay, that's enough for right now, how am I doing????
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  1. Omg! Tammy my little spinal fusion surgery was nothing compared to that......Praise God that u and your partner didn't listen 2 your ob.......I am so looking forward 2 getting 2 know u better

  2. Good Job, Tammy! (((Hugs to you)))

  3. Amazing story, Tammy. I could not imagine going through all that you did - and while pregnant! How wonderful that the procedure was so successful, too!! God is good! :)


  4. That's it I am never complaining another day of my life. Okay, that's probably not true, but wow!

  5. Incredible story, Tammy! I look forward to hearing the rest!!!

  6. (((((((Tammy)))))) Thank you sooooo much for sharing your story. I can't even pretend to begin to imagine what you've gone through.


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