Angela Diagnosed at 19
I was 19 and attending college when I noticed a lump in my left breast. It was extremely painful and there was dimpling next to the lump. I went to the college's health care center to see the nurse. She of course told me that the lump was nothing to worry about. When I had asked her about the dimpling, she said that she did not have an answer for that. She then gave me some Advil for the pain and sent me on my way. About a week after that, it was Christmas break. I had mentioned to my mom that I had a lump in my breast and she and my boyfriend encouraged me to go and get it checked out. I called and scheduled a surgery for Jan. 20, 1999. Of course now I was really terrified. What was I going to do if it was cancer? The day of the surgery finally came. I went in and about 45 minutes later I was waking up on the operating table being told that I had cancer. The tumor was 1.8 cm. I am sure you can imagine the shock I was in. I mean I was only 19!!! This is not supposed to happen to someone my age.
I was told a few days later that I was going to need another surgery to remove my lymph nodes. I proceeded to call Roswell Park Cancer Institute and have them do my next surgery. I went in for my second surgery on Feb.5. They proceeded to go back in where I had my lumpectomy done and clean up the margins and remove some chest muscle. They also removed most of my lymph nodes under my arm. My doctor told me that I had a microscopic spot in one of my nodes so my cancer was considered Stage II. I also found out that my cancer was estrogen positive. We then started to talk about chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and Tamoxifen. The chemotherapy would only help me by 5%, but the radiation and the Tamoxifen were the things that I would benefit most from. Of course, I decided to take the chemotherapy, even though I knew the chances of it helping me were small. I started my chemotherapy in March. I was going to be receiving the type of chemotherapy called Adriamycin and Cytoxan (also known as AC). I had to go every 3 weeks for 3 months.
This was the worst experience of my life. During treatment, I lost a lot of weight and my hair. I ended up not taking the last of my 4 treatments. My body just couldn't take it anymore. I felt like it was slowly killing me. That is when I realized that it was not worth it for 5%. In June, I started my radiation. I had to go for 5 days a week for 6 weeks. That was a breeze compared to the chemo!! Besides having a little redness I didn't have any discomfort at all. I had started to take my Tamoxifen near the end of my radiation treatments. I take a 20 mg pill once a day. The hot flashes were really bad at first but they have gotten a lot better even though I still get them every once in awhile. I also have the muscular and skeletal pain, fatigue and no sex drive (that is also due to the chemo and) from the Tamoxifen, but I can't complain too much because the Tamoxifen is helping save my life. I also had my reconstructive surgery done in March of 2000.
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