Finding the Lump
Monday 15th August 2011
I was getting ready to have a shower and take my son Greg to the doctor, I felt a lump in my right breast, I had my shower and thought I might as well tell the Doctor while I was there.
The Doctor sent me of to have a Mammogram and an Ultrasound, I was lucky enough to be able to get these done that very same day, and then another stroke of luck that they were able to do a biopsy at the same time as well. I was told I would get the results by Friday.
Tuesday 16th August 2011
I was at work and got a phone call from the Dr’s office saying could I come in that day as they had already received my test results. I went straight there from work. I was then told that I had Stage 3 Breast Cancer which is a fair bit aggressive, and I would need to have a lumpectomy to remove the cancer. I was a little shocked but thought ok this if fine just take the lump out and that will be that.
The Dr’s arranged for me to go and see a specialist, which happened to be Dr Lisa Creighton, whom did my Breast reduction surgery 3 years earlier, this was reassuring to me as I had dealt with her before. An appointment was made for me to go and see her on Friday 19th August 2011.
Friday 19 August 2011
I went for my appointment with Lisa Creighton. She explained the Lumpectomy and the type of cancer I had. She also told me what else they would look for once the lump had been removed and biopsied e.g. weather is was a hormone loving cancer and whether it was a spreading type. I was booking in for surgery for the following Tuesday.
Tuesday 23rd August 2011
I went to hospital for my lumpectomy, I was not concerned about the surgery as I believed it would not be as bad a when I have my reduction surgery so I was not worried about that side of things. I was pleasantly surprised that there was not too much discomfort after the surgery and stayed in Hospital two nights. There was tenderness for a while. I took things easy and was recovering well.
Wednesday 31st August 2011
Follow up appointment with Dr Lisa for the results of the surgery. They did not get enough of a clear zone around the lump so I would have to have another surgery to take out more tissue. This was book in for the following Tuesdays. In the mean time I was sent for numerous scans and tests to check out any other problems.
What to wear to hospital?
My friend Di thought this get up was appropriate in case there was a nice Doctor wishing to have a tea date with me while I was in hospital, and I had to look my best.
This little ensemble will really turn heads in the hospital!
Tests, Tests and more Tests
Thursday 1st September 2011
Ultrasound – Pelvis – Found a Lump there but was only a cyst
Friday 2nd September 2011
Ultrasound – Liver – Found something but not cancer, will check that outin 6 months.
Monday 5th September 2011
Bone Scan – Results Fine
Tuesday 6th September 2011
I went to Hospital for my second lumpectomy, breezed through this oneand only stayed in overnight.
Monday 12th September 2011
Follow up appointment with Dr Lisa, All Clear. Yay!! So as far as I am concerned, I do not have cancer from here on in. I have to have treatment for the prevention of any cancer returning.
Friday 30 September 2011
Radiologist Consultation Appointment with Dr to discuss my radiation treatment which will start February and go for everyday for 6 weeks.
Monday 3rd October 2011
Follow up appointment with Dr Lisa. All going well my wound is healing, and all good. Come back in 6 months’ time 2nd March 2012.
Tuesday 4th October 2011
Dr Michelle Cronk –Oncologist (Chemo Dr), she explained all the aspects of chemotherapy, I was then booked in to start my first round, I will have chemo once every three weeks for 6 rounds. And I will also have Herceptin Injections every three weeks for the next 12 months.
Friday 7th October 2011
Echocardiogram to check my heart ready for the Chemo also blood test to check platelets.
Chemo Round 1
What is Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. These special drugs can kill cancer cells and are sometimes called cytotoxic (‘cyto’ meaning cell and ‘toxic’ meaning injure or kill). The drugs enter the blood stream intravenously and travel through the body to most tissues, killing cancer cells.
Basically; pump drugs into you and kill all those little suckers.
Monday 10th October 2011
Sunshine Coast Haematology and Oncology Clinic
32 Second Ave
Cotton Tree QLD
9am – First Chemotherapy Round – My first Chemo combined with Herceptin took 5 hours.
The realisation has hit me a little and I and quietly shitting myself. Lots of prayer.
This consisted of Morning Tea, a cuppa, Lunch, another cuppa and juice and chocolate. Oh and the Chemo and Herceptin drug being pumped through my veins through a canular. I also must take steroids for one day before and for the next three days. It was not that bad at all; I had a lovely comfy recliner for my visit. I did have to stick my hands in some freezer mittens to stop my nails from falling off. Oh, the joy. I did crosswords, read and crocheted some flowers of which I gave to everyone who was there that day. They all loved that and now I think that will be my little tradition every time I go there. (Cherie the Flower Power Chick). (Great not only do I get fat from the Steroids but bald as well). Can’t wait for that!
Bring on the nasty side effects.
I was expecting all those side affects you hear about. But to my surprise nothing. Boy I am strong. Ha. Oops spoke too soon, a little off, a little tired, a few headaches but still not too bad. Oops spoke to soon again, a bloody rash, itchy, ugly and red, got some antibiotics for this and started to heal after about 4 days. But still all good so far. Thanks to my mum who cooked for me and my son Greg nearly every night . And also, thanks to my girlfriends Roslyn and Caz who bought chocolates around for me. I think there is a lot to be said for positive thinking.
And still have my hair, which I have dyed dark because my regrowth was just out of control. Have been having headaches most days and heart burn a lot when I eat too much which is all the time as the steroids make you ravenous
Sunday 23rd October 2011
I really have to stop speaking too soon. My hair started falling out today. This is quite amusing but a bit scary as well. I figure it will be gone by the end of the week.
Wednesday 26th October 2011
Yep, after falling out and me pulling it out all week, firstly I cut it shorter.
Saturday 29th / Sunday 30th October 2011
The short hair lasted to Saturday, my bestie Bec clippered it for me and then I shaved it all off the next day. It is very weird having no hair, it’s taking Greg a while to want to look at me. Just rub my head for good luck, smooth as a baby’s butt.Ohhh Put a light bulb in my mouth and call me Uncle Fester!!! LOL
Chemo Round 2
Monday 31 October 2011
7am – Blood Test to see if my red and white blood cells are ok for me to have Round Two of Chemo. I will have to do this before every Treatment.
Thanks to my bestie Di for driving me to Chemo. 1pm – Chemotherapy Round Two – This Chemo combined with Herceptin took 5 hours.
I had a bit of a reaction to the Chemo today, Tightness in my chest, so they had to stop it and give me an antihistamine, wait awhile and then start up again when I felt better. Other than that it all went pretty much the same as round 1. Lunch, cuppa and chocolate and afternoon tea. I did my usual activities and as per my new tradition I gave everyone there a flower, which they all loved.
Thanks to my Mum for picking me up from Chemo and making sure Greg and I have food to eat and buying me roses on Chemo Day.
Feeling great, I think the steroids give you energy, woke up at 2am couldn’t sleep so got up and did some jobs. Went back to sleep at
around 4 and then got up at 7am to get Greg of to school. But feeling good.
The next three weeks have been great, very little side effects. All going
Chemo. Was there for about 5 hours which was pleasing getting shorter.
Chemo Round 3
Monday 21st November 2011
Blood Test to see if blood cells are ok for me to have Chemo.
Tuesday 22nd November 2011
I have been so well during this treatment I am allowed to drive myself to chemo. 11am appointment with my Oncologist, I have discovered that if I see my Dr on the day of Chemo I do not have to pay for her consult as it is covered on my Private Health insurance as a day patient consult. Yipee, a bit of savings there. 12pm Chemo all good to go. I was there for a bit less than 5 hours this time which is pleasing, getting shorter each time.
Chemo Round 4
Monday 12th December 2011
Blood Test to see if blood cells are ok for me to have Chemo.
Tuesday 13th December 2011
Just another day really, no concerns well maybe weight gain but I am trying to stop being such a big pig and eat a bit better. (no luck)
11.30am appointment with my Oncologist, all well go down to the Chemo rooms. All goes well except they thought I was a pin cushion today have quite a few bruises where they missed the veins today. All in all; good.
Fine for the next couple of days. Glad to have a break for Xmas.
Chemo Round 5
Monday 2nd January 2012
Blood Test to see if my red and white blood cells are ok for me to have Round Five of Chemo.
Tuesday 3rd January 2012
11.30am appointment with my Oncologist, all well go down to the Chemo rooms. Fine for the next couple of days.
Chemo Round 6
Monday 22nd January 2012
Yay Last Chemo. Blood Test to see if my red and white blood cells are ok for me to have Round Four of Chemo.
Tuesday 23rd January 2012
Last chemo, which is pleasing. But still have to come in every 3 weeks to have Herceptin. But at least I will stop having nasty side effects now.
Some more side effects of chemotherapy (Chemo Brain)
Memory changes and having difficulty concentrating are a common side effect. It is described as if your mind is foggy, with trouble concentrating and remembering details about everyday life. I like to describe it as having a bad hangover.
This is not a myth, call me a ditzy blond, but now I am actually feeling like one, and these symptoms can last up to a year. Yippee an excuse.
One year on and yes, these symptoms are still hanging around, but I think they are easing now. Also, your energy levels start to improve as well.
Radiotherapy uses X-rays to destroy and cancer cells that may be left in the breast or armpit after surgery for breast cancer.
Wednesday 22nd February 2012
10.30am Appointment with Oceanic Oncology for my Tattoo. They place a small black dot on the area that is to be radiated, another black dot in the middle of your chest and one on the other side of the body, these dots are to ensure they position you correctly each day of radiation, that way they can ensure they get the same spot each time.
Radiotherapy Round 1
Wednesday 29th February 2012
I will go to the radiation clinic from Monday to Friday at 8.10am for six
Feeling a little anxious about first treatment, arrive at oncology change into my beautiful blue gown (which you are given at the initial consultation and keep for the duration of treatment).
Then you are taken into the radiology/X-ray room and hop up onto the bed, they manipulate you into the correct position and then leave the
room while the radiation treatment is given, the radiation takes about 4 minutes, day one they also take some X-rays. They come back in and you are free to go. All up about 20 minutes on day 1.
Day two of radiation
Exactly the same procedure but no X-ray, this takes approximately 4
minutes, and you are done. This procedure will continue every day except Saturday and Sunday for
the next 6 weeks.
Radiotherapy Side Effects
Side effects, about week 2 the breast area being treated started going a
bit pink, so I started using my Calangular cream which they gave me.
(should have starting using this from day 1). Is getting redder as time
goes on, it is like a severe sunburn.
Blisters are here now; just have to keep them covered as they are rubbing
on my clothes.
Radiation is a non-event really. I wish I knew this before I started as it
would alleviate some of the anxiety before you start.
You get to put your handprint on the wall when you have finished
Every three weeks for 12 months
I started on the Herceptin when I began Chemo, so I am already quite a few months into this treatment.
Herceptin is really a non event as well. Every three weeks I go to the Oncology Treatment Centre, and I am hooked up to the Drip when the
Herceptin is then pumped in, the only worry about this treatment is getting the needle into a vein which is proving harder each time. Leaving me looking like a pin cushion. This treatment takes about 1 hour. And I am not there long enough to even get morning tea.
Have been booked in to have a portacath installed. This will stop me being a pin cushion, Day surgery to have this put in. A portacath is a
small medical appliance that is installed beneath the skin. A catheter connects the port to a vein.
I wish I knew about this devise at the beginning. My advice to anyone going on Herceptin or even just chemo would be to get this.
Regular Echo Cardiogram
One of the possible side effects from Herceptin is heart attack/failure (dramatic hey) or too much pressure on your heart. So, every three
months I have to go and have an Echo Cardiogram. This is an ultrasound of the heart to make sure it is coping with the treatment. So far so good.
Finishing Treatment and 12 Month Mammogram
I had my 12 month monogram and have had the all clear.
Although I am very pleased to have the all clear, my journey is far from
Some breast cancer cells require oestrogen to grow. estrogen binds to and activates the estrogen receptor in these cells. Tamoxifen is
metabolized into compounds that also bind to the estrogen receptor but do not activate it.
Because of this competitive antagonism, tamoxifen acts like a key broken off in the lock that prevents any other key from being inserted, preventing estrogen from binding to its receptor. Hence breast cancer cell growth is blocked.
As my cancer was Hormone Positive, I had to stay on this drug for 5 years.
Various unwanted side effects which include the total inability to lose weight and a high risk of Uterus Cancer , I have decided to have a full hysterectomy so that I can get off this drug, I will have to take Femara instead, but it has fewer side effects.
Letrozole (Femara) is an oral non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor for the treatment of hormonally responsive breast cancer after surgery.
6th January 2013
As my right breast is significantly smaller that the left breast now due to the lumpectomy and the radiation, I had a reduction on my left breast to make it the same size as the right breast. I am pleased to have a matching pair again (well almost matching). I also had my portacath removed at this time as well.
8th February 2013
I had my hysterectomy, all went well, bounced back from that one in a week or so. Now I am just waiting for the Menopause to kic k in. No biggie as most of these symptoms started with Chemo.
Funny Facts about Cancer
Don’t ask! Just do.
The funny thing about having cancer is how helpful all your friends want to be.
Can I do anything for you? Anything you just ask! They say. Well Hello let me tell you nobody is going to ask.
My advice to friends would be. Don’t ask! Just do.
I loved it when people would say I will cook you some meals and bring them over.
So, in preparation for the great feasts that are coming your way you empty out your freezer, eating all the ice cream, and wait.
And guess what the dinners never come. And all you get is a frozen over freezer. Another job that won’t get done.
Therefore, you are left eating 2-minute noodles “RAW” because you are even too tired to put them in the microwave.
My advice is to just cook the dinner and take it over. Don’t ask! Just do.
This also applies to any housework. Don’t ask! Just do.
Due to the steroids, eating like a pig and total lack of exercise (any excuse) I gained 20kg while having treatment. I would suggest you do
not give up exercise, there is no need to, and light exercise can be beneficial.
When I finished chemo I started back at the gym, was even been doing the cycle class. Only side effect of this is the seat is sooooo hard I had to go and buy a gel seat. (I don’t think this has anything to do with anything). This did not last long as I am too tired to do any exercise. Back to the lounge for me.
There are quite a few benefits to being bald. People are generally nicer to you when they think you are sick.
You can pretend you are a pirate that’s thanks to the guys at work who kept saying eye, eye captain Cherie when I wore my scarf to work.
Around Christmas a child asked me “where is your hair” I said it fell out because I ate too many candy canes.
When your hair comes back in people love to rub your head . I tell them to make a wish.
Accessorise, Accessorise, Accessorise is all I have to say!
Treat yourself, any excuse to pamper yourself, take it. Surround yourself with beautiful friends and family and you can’t go
Being strong and positive
Keeping your life, as normal as possible is also a key. Which includes my work mates, who were totally amazed I kept coming to work, but to me this was an escape, and we have fun at my job, so this always helps.
I did not stop doing anything really as you know life goes on.
Don’t think I am the bravest person in the world just because I act like it sometimes. This can be very scary, but with a positive attitude you can conquer all.
One of the best outreach programs for me was the Beautiful You Cancer Charity. I have met a lot of beautiful women going through a lot of
different stages of cancer and I have made beautiful new friends.
Meeting with these women once a month is really encouraging and supportive. I get to share my experiences and they theirs. And if you can help someone along the way with their journey then this is always a bonus.
Beautiful you Cancer charity group was very supportive for me
Firstly, and most importantly, faith got me through; believing I was healed from the very beginning was the key.
This was helped by all the prayers from everyone and the loving support which was utmost in the recovery period.
And if you can believe it there were a few tears (not me everyone e lse) ha maybe a few from me.
To Greg who was there with me every day, what a trooper, and to Jake whose worry and support from afar was greatly appreciated.
I think telling my kids was one of the hardest things about this journey.
I had to tell Jake over the phone, and I was worried because I would not be with him to reassure him that I would be ok. I knew this in my heart, but I am sure he didn’t. Jake was very supportive and sent me lovely messages telling me I was the best mum in the world, and a beautiful song.
Your children can cope very well in a bad situation if, you are positive. But don’t forget that underneath they can be a little scared which is a bit heart wrenching.
All my friends who were just there!
Thanks for reading My Journey, Love .Cherie
My beautiful loving boys Jake and Greg
Not Just Another Cancer Journey. – Part 2.
Welcome back for my follow up.
August 2015 – 4 Years on
I have been having my yearly check-ups, mammogram, ultrasound and blood tests and I am still all clear. Although the thought of recurrence is forever in your mind you learn to live with this and push it to the back of your mind. Having beaten this once gives you a mindset that you can conquer reoccurrence and anything.
I am still taking Tamoxifen, but most of my side effects have eased up a little, I still get tired easily and have a few problems with back pain. I have been having my yearly check-ups for five years and all has been good. A lot has happened in the past 6 years, life is great and I have some normality back, even have my long hair back.
Until this year! Six years on and its back.
29 June 2017
Yearly Mammogram and ultrasound, results found calcification, which needs to be checked out as this is what my first cancer started as.
11 July 2017
Fine needle biopsy.
13 July 2017
Results positive to cancer, in the same breast.
15 July 2017
Decide to dye my hair pink, I figure if I’m going to lose it I’ll go out with a bang.
Found out I may not have to have chemo. Oops dyed it pink for nothing,
oh well I’ll be trendy for a while.
19 July 2017
First appointment with my surgeon Dr Lisa Creighton to discuss my treatment plan.
We have decided to have a bilateral double mastectomy. I feel this is the best way of ensuring I don’t get cancer back again. Have booked in for procedure 1/8/17.
In regards to chemo and radiation, we will have to wait until after the operation and the pathology results to determine weather I will need
25 July 2017
CT Scan/Bone Scan/ Blood Tests
Have to have these scans to see if the cancer has spread to any where else.
RESULTS: Good it has not spread.
I have mixed feelings about the mastectomy, I am not at all phased about the operation, as I do cope very well with ops. It’s everyone else who is panicking for me. Which is lovely.
I don’t care about having no boobs, that’s what padded bras are for.
1 August 2017
Ok the day is here.
I have arrived at the hospital at 12noon, checked in and now waiting in the waiting room, 2pm I am called in for pre op procedures. I have my blue gown on and am now waiting on a bed until my turn. 5pm It’s my turn. A little bit nervous. I have my pre op shots and it’s a blur from then. I wake up in recovery and it’s been done. 150 stiches and 1kg lighter.
No pain just drugged. Next minute I’m in my room and my bestie Caz is there to see I’m ok. She reckons all I said was I need chocolate! (that would not be me).
Lots of visitors and pressies. (thanks everyone)
I spend the next 4 days in hospital, The pain is not bad just on Panadol and Celebrex and I have drains in the wounds which will be removed before I go home. Lots of nurses poking and prodding morning and night. But these are the ladies and men that get you through these things.
I am moving my arms, walking around and showering myself day 3. Day 5 washed my own hair, which I thought I would not be able to do for at least 2 weeks.
5 August 2017
That’s it, I have the results from pathology and all is clear. No more cancer and no more treatment. Back to life.
Life with no boobs
Prostheses Lady Tracey came to give me a bra and some boobs, they look good.
Reconstruction (implant surgery), I will have spacer implant as these
allow your skin to stretch so you can then have
I have had approximately 7 surgeries since starting this journey and did
ask about Frequent Surgery points, I’m up there for a free one soon!
As I write this looking back, I feel this journey is complete, but who knows
maybe Ill be adding to it again one day, but until then, lots of love and see