"I found a lump on my left breast nipple in January of 2013 and went to the doctor to have it checked. He could not feel the lump, so he sent me to a gynecologist and she could not feel it either. I had a mammogram and they found something, but not the lump I was feeling. I have had a mammogram every year since I was 30 and I am now 54.
"So I was sent for a biopsy of the spot they found. No fun. I mentioned the other lump and the radiologist decided I should have a MRI, which of course showed the lump I was feeling. So then I had to have another biopsy, and that procedure was even worse. But I am a very tough cookie most of the time. They were both malignant, so I decided to have both breasts removed so that I would not have to worry about getting cancer in my right breast. That was in July of 2013. Afterwards, they told me my lymph nodes were clear and I did not have to have chemo or radiation. What a relief. I felt so lucky and I thought I would never again enter the Cancer Care Institute. The doctor told me to come back every year for a checkup and then I would have an MRI in five years. The checkups were pretty much just talking to the doctor. I was told to skip my third checkup because I was doing so well.
"Then in February of 2017, my back started to hurt. I went to the chiropractor twice and had massages also, but still had pain. I ended up going to the Urgent Care Clinic and the doctor there thought it was my spleen or liver and scheduled a CT of the abdomen that day.
"My back continued to hurt and I decided to get a second opinion within days of the Urgent Care appointment. This doctor suggested an MRI, which of course showed that my back was full of cancer, my ribs, pelvis, femur and clavicle, as well as my spine. I could not even look at the image because it made me sick to my stomach. My mom was with me and we both started crying. She told me she wished it was her and not me. I went to Mayo Clinic for a second opinion, and they agreed with my doctors.
"My pain became worse and I had a compression fracture at T11, so I had radiation in that area. The pain was almost unbearable when I tried to get up off of that flat table, but eventually the pain subsided.
"Then on May 5th, I woke up and had to use the restroom. I tried to turn over and screamed in pain. I couldn't even make it to the restroom before urine started running down my leg. My son took me to the ER and my mom and dad met us there. I felt so bad that my family had to see me in such pain. After three days, they got my pain medication figured out and I went home. I had another round of radiation to my lower back, 10 treatments.
"Since then, I have had little to no pain thank goodness. But heavy depression because I cannot work and it feels like the world is revolving around me and I am slowly sinking into a pit. Life goes on, but not for me. I don't feel like I can volunteer because some days I do have pain and have to take my morphine. I have to rest a lot, but that is probably because of the letrozole and Ibrance, as well as the morphine and Flexeril.
"I do want to say that I was married when I had my bilateral mastectomy, not happily. I remember staying with my mom and dad because my mom thought I needed quiet, and she was very worried about me. My surgery was done on Monday and I went to stay with my mom and dad on Tuesday afternoon. I had no idea the pain would be almost unbearable just to try to lift my arms.... My husband had taken the whole week off from work and I called him on Thursday and said I was ready to come home. He sat on one couch and I sat on the other for about 30 minutes, then he told me he was going to go golfing. My eyes were wide with disbelief!! I said, 'I can't even open a pill bottle!' He said his mother was going to come over and watch me while he went golfing. Our marriage was already going down the tubes, but that truly ended it!! That was in July of 2013. I filed for divorce in October 2015 and he made it very miserable for me. Then I found out just after we were divorced in July of 2016 that he had not disclosed that he had $110,000 in a work savings plan. So I had to get another lawyer and finally after another year, I got half of that money. I have been so stressed since my mastectomy because of the divorce that I sometimes wonder if stress can grow cancer cells.
"I got so depressed that I tried to commit suicide in July. I spent a few days at a psych ward and my mom and dad came and picked me up. I felt like the world was going on around me and I was stuck with no way out. I can't work and can't really volunteer either because I never know from day to day how I am going to feel. Luckily, I have a wonderful family and two great kids, but it is so easy to feel sorry for myself. I have been told that I am a very strong person, but I don't feel that strong. But then I think of everything that I have been through by myself and start to feel proud of who I am.
"My ex-husband never went with me to any of my tests or biopsies when I was first diagnosed. He was at the surgery center when I had the mastectomy though. I really wish I would have had a supportive husband through 31 years of marriage, but he was never there for me. I almost envy women who have a supportive, caring husband or partner because I never had that. You are so lucky if you do!
"I feel like it helps me immensely to write down my feelings. I have a notebook full and here I am again telling my story to all of you. I find it very interesting to read your posts. We are all in this together."
-- Djankord1, diagnosed metastatic in February 2017