I didn't name my blog "Cancer's A Bitch" for no reason. I mean it's bad enough that I have cancer, but the time commitment that goes along with it is a serious pain in the ass!
I was diagnosed on July 30th, and it was pretty much my full time job for most of August. I had countless doctors appointments (with my family doc, my surgical oncologist, my medical oncologist, and even a cardiologist), not to mention all of the tests, scans, blood work and follow ups. I definitely got to know the halls of Princess Margaret Hospital very well during that month.
Once I started treatment on September 11th my dance card slowed down significantly, thank gawd! From that point on it's been *mostly* once a week, with the occasional test or scan thrown in for good measure.
I go for treatment on Tuesdays, for two weeks on and one week off (repeated for 6 months). On my week off, I see Dr W (my medical oncologist / chemo doc) to discuss my blood counts, any symptoms or side effects that I may be having, and to go over the results of any tests I've had.
To get an idea of just how crazy it is, and to get caught up all at once on where I'm at, here is my agenda in a nutshell, from the beginning (July 11, 2018) right up until today (Jan 22, 2019).
It's a tad long, but I promise it ends on a super awesome note, so be sure to read through to the very end! ;)
July 11 • MAMMOGRAM & ULTRASOUND on a lump I detected.
July 12 • APPOINTMENT WITH FAMILY DR • He informs me that they are extremely concerned with what they saw on the scans, and that I'm booked for a biopsy at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
July 27 • CORE BIOPSY @ PMH
July 30 • FIRST DIAGNOSIS @ PMH • I meet with Dr M (surgical oncologist) who informs me that I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (aka breast cancer) which will most likely require a lumpectomy and some radiation - but that because of some "grey area" on the mammo, they have me scheduled for a breast MRI, just to be sure nothing was missed. • Read more here
August 2 • PRE-OP PHYSICAL with Dr D (my family Doc).
August 3 • PREHABILITATION ASSESSMENT @ Toronto General • This is a research study that I agreed to be a part of that studies the effects (and importance) of getting your body ready BEFORE breast surgery, and not just rehabilitating it after the fact. It's shocking to me that this is not something that's always been in place.
August 7 • PRE-OP EDUCATION CLASS @ PMH
August 13 • BREAST MRI @ PMH
August 20 • SECOND DIAGNOSIS @ PMH • Dr M (surgical oncologist) informs me that the MRI showed two more masses in the right breast (so three in total), and that further testing had come back from the biopsy, and I am HER2 triple positive. This means that my cancer is hormone driven and extremely aggressive and fast growing. So now I'm looking at chemo and a full mastectomy. • Read more here
August 23 • MEETING W/ MEDICAL ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • I meet with Dr W (oncologist) to discuss chemo regimens. I'm given two options and am told to think it over and let them know. Additionally I'm told that I will require immunotherapy (hormone blocker injections) every three weeks for one to five years. And lastly, he informs me that because of the aggressive HER2+ receptors, that they are going to send me for a butt load of additional tests and scans prior to starting treatment, to ensure nothing has spread. • Read more here
August 27 • BONE SCAN @ PMH
August 29 • REVERSE BIOPSY & MAMMOGRAM @ PMH • They implant a clip into the primary tumour, which will light the fucker up anytime I have a scan, mammogram or MRI, making it easier for them to get accurate measurements on it throughout treatment.
August 30 • SCAN DAY
CT Scan (abdomen, pelvis & thorax) @ PMH
Echocardiogram @ Toronto General
Heart MRI @ PMH
Helluh Blood work @ Toronto General
August 30 • APPOINTMENT WITH CARDIOLOGIST @ Toronto General • This is to discuss the fact that Taxol (chemo drug) and Herceptin (hormone blocker) can both cause the heart wall to weaken. Like cancer wasn't enough!
August 31 • THIRD DIAGNOSIS @ PMH • I sit down with Dr W (oncologist), with the intent on letting him know that I've decided I will do the every 2 week chemo regimen. But that is no longer an option as they found some spread in the scans ... to my liver. So now we have to be much more aggressive with the treatment, and those hormone blocker injections will be every three weeks for life. • Read more here
August 31 to September 3 • MELT DOWN • PJs, couch, Netflix. No phone calls, no texts. Just sleep and tv. Shout outs to Craig, the best friend a gal could have, for pulling me out of that spiral!
September 4 • ANXIETY ATTACK and MICROBLADING • The real world can be a pretty scary place when you're dealing with shit like this, but so can having no eyebrows (from chemo). So I work my way through my first (ever) panic attack, and then head out to get my eyebrows microbladed (tattooed). This time the shout outs go to Seanie and Elisa for coming to my rescue!
September 9 • HAIR CUT • Bu-bye long curly hair. Welcome back pixie cut!
September 10 • GANJA CONSULT @ The Compassion Centre • for CBD oil to help with two of the main side effects that I may experience - bone pain and neuropathy.
September 11 • TREATMENT DAY 1a (half dose) @ PMH
September 12 • TREATMENT DAY 1b (half dose) @ PMH
September 18 • TREATMENT DAY 2 @ PMH
September 25 • HAIR STARTS TO FALL OUT (ugh)
September 26 • BUZZCUT
Sept 28 • BLOOD WORK + FIRST FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • Dr W (oncologist) informs me that my counts are better than he had anticipated they would be. From there he gives me a physical exam and tells me that he can no longer feel the thickness in my lymph nodes, and that the main lump (which was quite large and hard) is getting noticeably smaller and softer around the edges. Hell to the YES!!! I've finally broken the "bad news" curse of the second floor!
October 2, 9, 23, 30 • TREATMENT DAYS @ PMH
October 5 • PORT INSERTION @ Toronto General • "A Port-a-Cath is a device placed under the skin in your chest. It has a thin flexible tube that is put into a large blood vessel (the jugular vein) leading to your heart. This will make it easier and safer to give intravenous fluids and medicines, and as well to draw blood." -- This is necessary for me as I have six months of chemo, not to mention the hormone blockers every three weeks for life ... and it will save my poor ole arm veins, which tend to hide on a good day.
October 18 • BLOOD WORK + FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • no major side effects to report and blood work is all good. Everything's on track!
November 2 • CT SCAN @ PMH • My first scan since starting treatment. This will tell us if the lesions on the liver have shrunk.
November 8 • BLOOD WORK + FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST + TEST RESULTS FROM CT SCAN @ PMH • Talk about being a big ball of nerves! For the first time ever, I have no questions for Dr W (oncologist). I only want the results from that CT scan. And the result is 50-70% shrinkage on the liver. DAMNED STRAIGHT IT IS!!!
November 13, 20 • TREATMENT DAYS @ PMH
November 29 • BLOOD WORK + FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • no major side effects to report and blood work is all good. Everything's on track!
November 30 • MUGA SCAN • A high tech heart scan - the results of which show a healthy heart and heart wall!
December 4, 11, 24, 31 • TREATMENT DAYS @ PMH
December 5 • GENETIC COUNSELLING & TESTING @ PMH • Those results won't be in until early February.
December 20 • BLOOD WORK + FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • no major side effects to report and blood work is all good. Everything's on track!
January 10 • BLOOD WORK + FOLLOW UP WITH ONCOLOGIST @ PMH • no major side effects to report and blood work is all good. Everything's on track!
January 15, 22 • TREATMENT DAYS @ PMH
January 16 • BILATERAL BREAST ULTRASOUND
January 16 • CT SCAN • My second liver scan since starting treatment
January 22 • PHONE CALL FROM ONCOLOGIST • Dr W (oncologist) calls with the results from last weeks scans. There is "no obvious sonographic mass" on the ultrasound, which means there is no evidence of a tumour in my breast! And the CT scan shows further shrinkage of the lesions on my liver! I'm a cancer fighting MACHINE!