My breast cancer journey

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on August 14, 2013. These videos …

I have breast cancer

Day 1: Breast cancer diagnosis.
Day 4: Sought advice from survivors.
Day 9: MRI.
Day 14: Chose Froedtert Clinical Cancer Center in Milwaukee; had ultrasound and Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) of lymph nodes.
Day 15: Lymph nodes positive for cancer.
Day 21: Met with plastic surgeon to discuss breast reconstruction; had bone scan and CT scan.
Day 29: Met with oncologist to discuss chemotherapy.
Day 35: Had abscessed molar extracted before chemotherapy.
Day 38: Met with radiation oncologist to discuss post-mastectomy radiation therapy; had chemotherapy orientation/tutorial and pre-chemo echocardiogram.
Day 44: First support group meeting at Circle of Hope.

First chemotherapy treatment

Day 45: PowerPort implanted; Emend 3-Day anti-nausea regimen started, “AC” chemotherapy treatment 1 of 4 (Adriamycin followed by Cytoxan); back home taking Zofran (anti-nausea).

Neulasta after first chemotherapy treatment

Day 46: dexamethasone added to anti-nausea regimen, with Compazine as an additional option; return to hospital for Neulasta shot to boost neutrophils.

Chemotherapy-friendly food from a cancer cookbook

Day 47: Emotional and depressed.
Day 48: Cooking some recipes from The Cancer Fighting Kitchen.

First week of chemotherapy: Wig selection

Day 49: Early morning soreness, headache, nausea.
Day 51: Hospital follow-up visit, trying on wigs.

‘Look Good Feel Better’ cosmetics workshop

Day 56: Negative results for both BRCA mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2).
Day 57: American Cancer Society “Look Good Feel Better” workshop.

Video: Hair loss, chemo treatment 2

Day 59: Scalp aches.
Day 61: Clumps of hair falling out.
Day 62: Blood draw, oncologist visit: tumor shrinking, “AC” chemotherapy treatment 2 of 4.

Video: My head shaved after 2nd chemo

Day 65: Head shaved at The Hair Co. in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Breast cancer support group in Kenosha, WI: Circle of Hope

Day 67: Intense body aches.
Day 68: Passing queasiness.
Day 72: 2nd support group meeting at Circle of Hope.

Video: Chemo treatment 3

Day 75: Began taking a 7-day regimen of Claritin the day before chemo to combat Neulasta bone pain.
Day 76: More tumor shrinkage, “AC” chemotherapy treatment 3 of 4.
Day 77: Taking Colace-type stool softener, prune juice, pears, etc. to counter constipation from anti-nausea meds.

Video: Pierogi making and Petrifying Springs

Day 88: Anti-constipation regimen, continued (steel-cut oatmeal, prunes, dates, plenty of water).

How to tie a head wrap: Video tutorials

Day 95: Learning to tie head wraps via YouTube.

Video: Finishing A/C chemo, starting Taxol

Day 89: “AC” chemotherapy treatment 4 of 4.
Day 93: Stomach cramps, weak and tired.
Day 103: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 1 of 12 (Benadryl, Pepcid, dexamethasone, Taxol). Began taking glutamine powder and vitamin B6 to avoid peripheral neuropathy from Taxol.
Day 104: Preparing for henna tattoo (mehndi) on scalp.

Video: Mehndi (henna tattoo) on my head

Day 107: Thanksgiving apart from family due to immunity concerns.
Day 109: Mehndi (henna tattoo) on my bald head by Michelle.
Day 111: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 2 of 12.

Holiday depression

Day 118: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 3 of 12.
Day 124: Emotional low, winded, dizzy, onset of early menopause.
Day 125: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 4 of 12.

Chemo, Christmas & New Year’s

Day 132: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 5 of 12. Energized by steroids.
Day 133 & 134: Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with family.
Day 137: Out for a winter walk.
Day 139: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 6 of 12.
Day 141: Tongue hurts, feels burnt.

Life during chemo: Taxol 7 & 8

Day 144: Restless, crampy
Day 145: Early 2014 polar vortex, Taxol chemotherapy treatment 7 of 12. Met Chaplain Steve Stern.
Day 147: Neighbor dies in house fire.
Day 149: Started Livestrong program at Racine Family YMCA.
Day 152: Toured Big Chill snow sculpting event in downtown Racine.
Day 153: Taxol chemotherapy treatment 8 of 12, MRI.
Day 154: Pre-mastectomy consultation with Dr. Yen.
Day 155: MRI results: considerable tumor shrinkage.

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