Today’s WCW is Candy. Candy reached out to me on Instagram wanting to share her story with us! Thank you so much for sharing your journey!
Hi, my name is Candy and my journey started in August 2017. Years ago I attended a health fair and I was told that since I had large breasts, I would need to be creative in my self checks. They suggested things like bending over or laying on my side when performing the checks. I hadn’t been as diligent as I should have been and one evening, I was in bed and was like, Oh My!!!! I haven’t done a check in a few months. So, I was doing my self check and was reaching under my left breast and I felt something. No Way!!! This can’t be!!!! I kept feeling the lump and checking on the right side.
The next morning, I call the doctor’s office to get a diagnostic mammogram set up. By the time I went in for my check up and mammogram, I had found a second mass. I pointed it out to the technician performing my scans. They suggested I have an ultrasound. When I went for the ultrasound, the doctor showed me how the first mass looked suspicious and the second one looked like it was a cyst. The biopsy appointment was set up within the next few days, and 3 days later I hear, “It’s Cancer”. I was at work when I got the call and decided to take it because it was at the end of the day and the weekend and I was not going to wait till Monday for the results. I broke down when I heard the news. My husband came to pick me up from work. I went home and immediately got call from one of my closest childhood friends. One of the doctors that I work with has known her forever and called to tell her the news. I was extremely touched that he took the time to contact her knowing that I needed her.
They had an appointment set up with the surgeon consult 3 days later. I met my surgeon and we talked about my options. They suggested a lumpectomy with reconstruction. I made the joke, I didn’t want her to rebuild to match my other breast, I wanted a reduction. She said that is something I could do, and yes I wanted to do this. I remember after my consultation, she had the technicians ultrasound the area under my arm to see if it looked like it had spread to my lymph nodes. I remember the tech saying that the mass looked so much smaller than it felt. The surgery was set for 3 weeks later. They wanted to perform a MRI as well because I had so many cysts in my breast.
The MRI for me was horrible. I almost hit the panic button. The results came back that the original mass was triple in size, and the second one I had felt was showing it could be cancer. Both of my breast were lighting up on the scan. We had to do a biopsy on the second mass. It came back showing it was in fact cancer. I had to have a biopsy via MRI on my right breast which came back negative. So next was surgery.
Wow, was this an experience. They marked where they were removing the masses and the reconstruction on both breast. During the surgery, my doctor said that she could tell that 4 of the lymph nodes had cancer. She biopsied 4 more and they came back positive. She removed all of the nodes and all but one had cancer. At my doctors visit, my initial Staging was Stage 2A. After my surgery I was Stage 3. After recovering from my surgeries ( I had to go back 4 days later for emergency surgery. My left breast got a hematoma and was bleeding and swelling), I met with my Oncologist. We went over my treatments. I would be getting 8 rounds of chemo total. I would be getting them every 2 weeks, then I would meet with the Radiologist and discuss the next treatment. My Oncologist wanted to do a Pet Scan first to make sure that the cancer hadn’t spread further. The scan showed that the lymph nodes by my lung and trachea was possibly cancer. Immediately, the next day, I was having them biopsied. When I woke up from the procedure, the doctor immediately told me that it was cancer, but it will be sent to the pathologist to confirm. At this point, I think hearing that news was the hardest for me. I felt like every time I turned around, bang more cancer. This was my breaking point. I was not going to survive this. I went from starting with Stage 2 to Stage 4.
I feel very lucky for the doctors that were part of my treatment. My oncologist treated my aggressive cancer with aggressive treatments. The chemo was tough on me. The first 4 that caused nausea and hair loss, I slept through. I was off 10 days after chemo, then worked 3 days. The second 4 of the chemo treatments, I felt like my bones and muscles were being attacked. I was off a week and worked a week. I’m very grateful to my co workers who helped with my schedules, and my family and friends who went to every treatment and kept my spirits up. My chemo sessions were sometimes called the party area. We livened the place up!
I had 39 radiation treatments total. I am very fair and surprisingly I didn’t burn as bad as I thought I would had. I had my second pet scan before radiation and it showed that the two lymph nodes by my trachea were showing no activity, and the one by my lung had shrunk from 7.3 cm to 1.7. My symbolism is the Sun. When I found out I had cancer, I lost all my rays. At this point and the news of the pet scan, the rays were coming back to my sun. I was literally walking on sunshine and I think it became my theme song.
I finished radiation, and I started on Letrozole instead of Tamoxifen because Chemo kicked me into menopause. I also started on Ibrance. The combination was to suppress my hormones and shrink my tumors and prevent any other tumors from growing. Two PET scans later and I am NEAD, No Evidence of Active Disease. Words I never thought I would hear.
More rays for my sunshine.
I started following Laura because Amy from the Bobby Bones Show had shared her picture after her surgery and I was like, Hey I took a picture too in the surgery bra. She has been an inspiration. I started my journey before her but Laura and others are keeping my spirits up.
I didn’t really do a hashtag but I love hers. Ta Ta to Cancer. I have loved saying Ta Ta and want to keep saying Ta Ta. I am enjoying reading everyone’s journey and hope you enjoy mine.
You can find Candy on instagram @candycsj