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Cancer Doesn’t Hurt? Thankfully, Mine Did

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I rarely go on this site these days because quite frankly, the Internet scares me. However, this site was a comfort and information source to me in those early days of diagnosis, so I think it's important to share our stories.

I was diagnosed in October 2015. I found the tumor myself. I remember going into my OBs office to have it checked, and he said, "Don't worry, cancer doesn't hurt. So, it can't be cancer." Well, thankfully mine did hurt, or else I probably wouldn't have noticed it. I had an ultrasound, mammo and biopsy all that same day and found out the very next day it was cancer. At that time, I was 36 years old with a 9 month old and a 4 year old. I have no family history of breast cancer, so this came completely out of left field. I cried for weeks. I felt like my world was crumbling around me.

I started treatment about 3 weeks after diagnosis. I was told that TN tumors respond very well to chemo, so I felt encouraged - almost empowered. I've got this! I did 4 rounds of AC and 4 dose-dense rounds of Taxol. The side effects weren't horrible, but it was hard to keep up with the kids and work. Thankfully, I had a lot of help from family. The tumor didn't shrink all that much with AC, but my onc said that some tumors respond better to Taxol, so I remained hopeful. After the second dose of Taxol, it was apparent that Taxol wasn't effective either. The tumor was "softening" they said, but no shrinkage. I was devastated. Everyone talked about a pCR [pathologic complete response] and how important this was, and I knew that this meant my recurrence risk was high.

I ended up having a unilateral mastectomy in February. I enrolled in a clinical trial doing concurrent radiation and Cisplatin chemo (to prevent local recurrence since negative margins were less than 1 cm). The tumor that they extracted during surgery was 3.2 cm (it was estimated around 3.5 prior to chemo). I finished the trial last month, so for now, I pray. I do feel like a sitting duck, but God willing, I will end up on the good side of the statistics.

I have been YEARNING to hear survivor examples from women who had chemo-resistant tumors, or did not achieve a pCR. I'm hoping some of those women post their stories - I know it would provide a lot of hope!

-- Ag23

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of nor are they intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians.

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