Breastfeeding and Breast Cancer Blog

From breastfeeding to being diagnosed with breast cancer and then back to breastfeeding. This is an account of my experiences.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wig Research

Who knew that I would be learning about wigs and considering losing my hair.  Many women seem to struggle with the thought of losing their hair and I did too.

I can't imagine not being a redhead, it would be strange.  In learning about wigs, I found a local stylist who sells wigs.  She had some examples which looked very similar to my hair and she could cut it so it would look even more similar.

Taxol usually has the side effect of losing one's hair, but it is also often offered in conjunction with other chemos.  I will wait and see what happens before ordering the wig.

It's funny how when considering losing ones hair, we do see it as a temporary situation..the hair will grow back.  Many women are deeply saddened by the experience.  When considering how long it takes for hair to get long again, it feels less of a temporary situation.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Starting Chemotherapy

We decided on twelve weekly treatments of Taxol and Herceptin.  I couldn't believe I was actually starting chemotherapy.  I'm fairly content with the decision to do only Taxol and Herceptin.  It makes sense.  Doing it weekly means that I will receive less drug each week instead of a triple dose every three weeks.  My oncologist feels that I won't really have "down" days.

With this whole experience, it really takes a human to be able to walk into surgery or walk into chemotherapy and know that you will be hurt, or get sick, but also know that these steps might just save your life.  It's a very strange concept.

Preparing for the first chemo was really hard.  I had weaned off the first breast for surgery.  Now I needed to step back production again.  Because my daughter was no longer a baby, we could talk about everything.  While she heard that I would be getting a medicine that would not be safe for her, that didn't mean that she really understood and could just let go of nursing.  It's ironic, she had enjoyed sucking her thumb and nursing up until the age of 2 when I could easily discourage her from sucking her thumb.  Now at 2 3/4, I was reminding her that she used to suck her thumb and she might like to do it again.

We had a last nursing, but really our last nursing without timelines and thoughts of drugs and surgeries happened long ago.  As we drove to the hospital, I cried, because again, things were out of my control in my life and with my children and I wished it wasn't so.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Yes, It's More Than DCIS

Oh the waiting!  Waiting for the surgical pathology was forever.  I knew it would take at least a week, but the final few days of waiting took forever.  I didn't want to miss the call either.

From the beginning I wondered if the lump was more than DCIS and this pathology confirmed that it was, inside the 1.4 cm area of DCIS was a .6cm area of Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC).  This was potentially a game changer.  With DCIS, I hoped to return to my life...with invasive cancer, I knew I would need more consults and possibly chemo.

This was when it really began.  Many women have a defining moment when they are told, you have cancer.  I never felt that I did.  It was nothing, then something, then something more.  But even with a six millimeter area of invasive cancer, I was in the grey area of what to do.

Once again I set up multiple appointments with medical oncologists.  I was somewhat surprised that each one recommended some sort of chemotherapy.  My options were the standard Ardimyacin with Cyctoxin followed by Taxol and Herceptin (AC + TH), or a newer option that proved to be less heart toxic Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin (TCH), or a minimalist option of Taxol and Herceptin.

Chemotherapy was recommended due to the fact that I was under 35 and the characteristics of the cancer were more aggressive.  Because so much of my world at that point was babies and pregnancy, I thought it was interesting that in the cancer world, 35 is so young.  In the pregnancy world, 35 is old!  I was 34 and thoughts of more children danced in my head, not wanting to prematurely wean my child, and just wanting to be a mom to care for my children.

After much deliberation, I decided to go for the chemo:  twelve weeks of Taxol along with Herceptin.  Then Herceptin would continue for another three to nine months.