I teamed up with my Oncology Nurse, Jan Tipton of UTMC to bring awareness to Triple Negative Breast Cancer as it is affecting younger women, even those in their 20's, and the need for further research to find a target therapy is critical. I shared my journey from finding my lump to going through my treatments and trying to find my new "normal" afterwards.
I talked for about 35 minutes and presented a photo slideshow from my blog of my battle against breast cancer. I spoke of my blog, "Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I Won't Back Down!" that I started and have become more of an informational and inspirational site for other TNBC survivors.
Jan Tipton followed up with information on Triple Negative Breast Cancer, taking care of our bodies and the importance of breast self-exams.
|Melissa and Jan|
- BGSU Women's Center
As requested, I added below my speech but I spoke from memory so there was a couple of minor things I forgot to mention. I also did a slideshow presentation with photos throughout my journey as I told my story.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
2 days later, I went to Toledo Hospital for my mammogram, haven't had one since my baseline at age 36. I told them that I found a lump and they put a marker on it in that area and took digital images and told me that this was the newest state of the art technology that is more accurate and shows more detail. After the mammogram, they performed an ultrasound of the lump in my breast, I saw a large mass showed that magnified on the monitor. I asked if that was the tumor and she replied, "yes." I asked if the tumor was really that big and she replied that it was a medium size lump measuring 2cm.
The breast care doctor told me the results of my mammogram and said it came back negative. I told him it's there I can feel it. He said there is a lump that showed up on the ultrasound but didn't show up on the mammogram because my breast tissues were too dense. The doc said it's probably nothing to worry about that it was probably just a cyst but, I was very concerned and insisted on a biopsy right then and there. The doc inserted a needle into my breast into the tumor as I watched the needle poking the tumor on the ultrasound screen. After the Doc got the specimen, I asked him what he thought. Doc said, "before the biopsy,
So I went home feeling relieved, thinking I just have a cyst in my breast. I called my husband and told him about the lump and the testings I had done. I assured him not to worry that I'll be ok. My husband did come home the next day.
I had dose dense chemo treatments (2½ hour sessions) every other week for 16 weeks, with three visits to the hospital for blood work, Chemo, then I go back the following day to get a shot of Neulasta to bring my white blood cell back up. First set of Chemo was an intense cocktail chemotherapy, Adriamycin known as the "Red Devil" and Cytoxan that was very potent but for the most part I did very well - nausea controlled by meds, tingling and numbness in hands, some upset stomach, back pain, lost of appetite and food tasting bland and red blood cell count decreasing. The Chemo had thrown me into early menopause with hot flashes and night sweats.