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© 2008 by LunaTechChick. All rights reserved.

My Story

Hi! My name is Kimberly, but I'm known online as the LunaTechChick. Thanks so much for clicking on the My Story page! 

When I was first diagnosed and then told I would have to have chemo, I searched the internet for blogs on how to get through this, and also blogs about how long will it take my hair to grow back? It is my hope that by sharing my story, maybe it will help ease the fears and be of some help or comfort to those newly diagnosed.

I was diagnosed on June 30, 2009, Stage III, 40 years old. 
I had 2 lumpectomy surgeries, 
15 lymph nodes removed - 4 positive 
And had a mediport placed before beginning chemotherapy
6 Rounds of Chemotherapy:

12 Months of Herceptin completed on August 26, 2010

33 Doses of Radiation included 8 boosts completed February 2010

Well that's the short version.  Read on for the Full Story:

I was in the shower, rinsing soap off when I felt the lump in my left breast. Wasn't looking for it.  Just rinsing off as I do every single day. And I did the day before. I didn't feel this thing yesterday! WTF is this??! This thing just seemed to come out of nowhere. And I flipped right on out.  I placed O's hand (O is my husband) on it and asked him "What do we think this is?" And then he flipped out.  At the time I was already scheduled to have a mammogram in about 10 days, but I went ahead and got on the phone and got it moved up to the very next day.  I had only had one mammogram a year ago. I didn't know there was more than one "style" of mammogram, Diagnostic and a Regular Screening.  All I had had was a Diagnostic. I didn't realize this mammogram the next day was going to be a "Regular Screening" Mammogram, so I didn't realize that I would not get the results right away.  And I didn't mention the lump to the mammo tech.  I know, I know... Anyway, I was kind of surprised when the tech said she got good images and that I would receive a letter in the mail soon.  So, still not mentioning the lump, I left the Digital Imaging an idiot.  

I was so so so relieved when I got the letter in the mail and read that they were "pleased to inform you that the results of your recent breast examination are normal."  OMG I was so glad to know it was just nothing.  And so I went on with life as usual.  This was early May 2009.

I was turning 40 in June and had a Big 4-0 Birthday Bash trip to see my family in Savannah coming up.  The airline tickets had already been purchased since February. I was so very looking forward to the trip.  I don't get to go home nearly as much as I'd like. the trip is coming up and I just still can't feel right that this big hard thing in my boob is just always going be there.  It was way back on the side of the breast, so I could readily feel it every time I put on my bra.  So I scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN to let him put his hands on it.  So he did and said he really felt it was probably just a fibroid and to see if it doesn't go away with my next menstrual cycle.  So when I told him I had already had a cycle since the stupid thing had appeared, and it hadn't changed at all, he told me "Get thee to a Diagnostic Mammo ASAP".  But at the same time, he truly didn't seem all that worried, since he just saw the report of my digital mammogram from just about a month ago, and it looked fine, no family history, yadda yadda yadda.... This was on June 3, 2009.  My plane tickets were departing June 10, returning on June 15. 

So I I get this Diagnostic Mammogram before the trip, or wait till I get back? I really want to enjoy my trip....I figured, eh, what's seven days more, right?  So, I took my tumor on vacation.  Had a great trip, took lots of photos at the Big 4-0 Birthday Bash and just really enjoyed our visit.
40th Birthday Jager-Shot
So we get back and just a few days later the "Diag Mammo" date arrived.  Off we went back to the Digital Imaging Center.  Figured we'd get it done, hear all is fine and then go see a movie.  So we get there and the Radiologist comes out and  takes me over to the other side of the building, not where I was expecting to go for a mammo.  She explained that she'd rather just do a sonogram on the area since I can feel it and nothing shows up. Said I had very dense breast tissue which makes it like looking for a snowflake in a snowstorm...or some snow analogy.  Fine.  And this would have been good info bout a month ago.  Anyway, immediately upon the image appearing on the screen, she said she wanted a biopsy on this asap.  Could I come back first thing in the morning?  Yep.  And I'm totally melting down....they sent for my husband to come back and talk with us and try (I guess) to get me calm enough to walk through the lobby without alarming the patients waiting.

We still went to the movie.  I don't remember any of it. We were both just kinda weirded out and numb, I think.

Next day, June 25, we show up for the biopsy.  My husband was allowed in the room to hold my hand and he watched everything.  He said it looked totally alien weird on the screen as the biopsy thingy probed around removing cells from the tumor.  The Doctor doing the biopsy kept saying that "whatever it is, it looks very small" and "bc is no longer the death sentence it once was..."

And then we left and had lunch at Wendy's and went home, only to learn that both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett had died.  I'm thinking, yeah, this biopsy isn't gonna turn out very well for me.

Five days later, while DH is away at a meeting I get the call.  Positive for breast cancer.  Gave me numbers of several surgeons and some info about each.  I called the one that sounded more like what I wanted immediately...Dr. V.  And we were in front of him at 9am the next morning.  Surgery was scheduled to happen in 8 days, with a Sentinal Node Injection for the day before.  And I can't even talk about that.  I'll never understand why they can't numb you for that...something about messing with the material they inject.....whatever. I mean, seriously? You're gonna stab me right in my boob several times and inject stuff in there? REALLY? Yep. Sure did. O said that was the absolute WORST thing he'd ever seen. Yes, he was holding my hand during it. Pretty sure I nearly broke it.  And the way I was screeching, I was really surprised to see a single patient left in the waiting room.

July 9, 2009, I had the surgery and was advised once I was awake, that 4 of 15 lymph nodes were positive. I was to follow up with Dr. V in a week to remove the drain and get the pathology report.

July 15, the follow up with Dr. V reveals that the margins were not clear. But he felt very confident he could get a good clear margin with a reincision.  He'd really like to try that rather than just going for mastectomy.  Because he said I was definitely going to be having chemo and radiation and possibly take Tamoxifen for 5 years.  He said the survival stats are the same with all this treatment, lumpectomy or we scheduled the second lumpectomy for a week later on July 23.

Of course, at that point, I had heard the word "chemo". So I had a question.  Not, "Am I gonna die?" Not, "How sick will chemo make me feel?" No. My question? "OMG CHEMO??? Am I gonna lose my hair???!!" Dr V: "Yes, I think you're going to lose every hair on your body." And that was it! Out the window with the "I'm a warrior, gonna kick cancer's ass, blah, blah, blah..." All about the hair. Yep.

Dr. V was scheduled to depart on his vacation the day after that second surgery for at least a week and scheduled my follow up with him for August 3.  BUT....while he was vacationing, he had his office fax him my pathology report and then let me know right away that they had achieved the clear margin.  Can you believe that?? He took time out of vacation to look into my case and not keep me waiting? Amazing, right? Yeah, Dr. V's pretty cool like that.

Although very relieved about the clear margin news, we were still super freaked out and scared because, you know, at this point, you don't understand chemo and everything that's happening.  I had a freak out right before getting the port.  I changed oncologists around this time when the original oncologist's office confused me with another patient and was ordering up a liver biopsy and brain scan.   WTF??? Nobody said anything to me about this? My damn scans are CLEAR damnit!!! So then Dr. V referred me to my wonderful oncologist, Dr W, who got me through the 6 rounds of TCH chemotherapy.  Exactly 2 weeks after the first one, yep, my hair started coming out. I had to shave it off. And that was so hard for me. Honestly, I did have to get a little drunk to actually go through with it. (No, I am NO role model.) 

 When I had enough time to recover from the end of chemo, about a couple of weeks, I was introduced to my Radiation Oncologist, Dr L, who got me through 33 doses of radiation, including 8 boosts to the tumor site. My skin turned red, but since it was the dead of winter, it kinda kept me from being as cold...well, that plus wearing wigs. I was fortunate that I didn't burn any worse or even blister. I used Aloe Vera Gel faithfully.  My mantra was "Lube The Boob".  

Radiation completed after about six weeks, and Herceptin continued on for a year. By the time it was over, I had a full head of hair. I had a love / hate thing with it. It was nice to have hair to hate. At that point I called it my "Senior Citizen 'do", cause it really did look like the hairdo a friend of ours in her late 60's wore. But yeah, I was thrilled to see the hair returning.

So here I am....since diagnosis in 2009, having gone through treatment for 
Stage III breast cancer.  During treatment  I started a CarePage that eventually moved over to this blog.  Mostly because I was very upset with the hair loss that resulted from the chemotherapy.  

So welcome to my blog! I hope you'll enjoy my posts and rants and musings and ramblings. It's therapy for me. And I hope it's helpful for you. And maybe even a bit entertaining. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Anonymous said...

Hi Kimberly, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to talk with you in regards to your journey. Could you please email me when you have a chance? Thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you :) lindseyDOTcaldwellATrecallcenterDOTcom

LunaTechChick said...

Hi Lindsey! Email sent! Thanks so much for visiting my blog & commenting here. =)

Claudia Schmidt said...

Hi Kimberly - Somehow or other I wasn't getting your posts. I think when I changed my email my subscription didn't carry over to the new one (I realized this recently, it's also happened with several other blogs I followed....took me a while to figure it out!) so I recently resubscribed. Nice to see you again and sorry I was away for a while! Claudia

LunaTechChick said...

Hi Claudia! Great to hear from you again! I do know how stuff like that can happen, however, you can see, you most likely haven't missed much, as I've had a really hard time getting back in to blogging. Trying to correct that though! Thanks for subscribing :)