I have too much to do and this is not on my list….
I started this crazy cancer journey in 2016. One morning while showering I did my self-exam (yes they are important and you should do them) and noticed a lump. I called for my husband to come up and feel it and he said I am sure it is nothing. So I kind of left it alone and didn’t think much else that day. The next day it was still there, not sure where I thought it was going to go. As soon as I felt the lump I knew it was cancer but I never said it out loud. I called my family doctor and of course mine had retired so there was a new doctor and because I hadn’t seen her it was going to be a week or two to get in. I waited patiently until the following week and my husband and I went in to see her. She was 90% sure that the lump was just a cyst and was going to send us on our way. My husband spoke up and asked her to order a mammogram to be sure and ease our minds, she reluctantly said yes. Well when I get to the checkout she has ordered a mammo and an ultrasound for two days later, I was thrilled.
I went to have the tests and before I even left they consulted the doctor and scheduled me for a biopsy. I was told I would be having a stereotactic biopsy and an ultrasound guided biopsy, ok I can do this two different types, this is good right. So the day comes for my biopsies and this is the day my world is flipped upside down. We walk in and the nurse tells us that they blocked out the entire afternoon to do the biopsies because it is so involved. We sit down with the Radiologists before we get started because he is supposed to biopsy three different areas but he really doesn’t want to do that because he doesn’t like to do that many on one person at one time. So he begins to walk us through what he is seeing on the mammo and he tells us at that time he is 80% sure that it’s breast cancer. This news from him was like a ton of bricks hitting my husband and me. All I could think about was my 5-year-old son and what we were going to do. So we go about the day have the biopsies and the nurse tells us she will call us at 3pm on Friday. The nurse calls us on Friday and confirms that diagnosis, Stage II, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I have to tell you the next hour was a complete whirlwind. She scheduled my appointment with the breast surgeon for first thing Monday morning. Oh and by the way this official diagnosis was the day before my wedding anniversary. My husband and I decided to put it all behind us and just have a great weekend without thinking about the diagnosis….like that happened.
Monday rolls around and it starts the whirlwind of doctors and information. That week I had an appointment with my breast surgeon, plastic surgeon and oncologist, and was scheduled to have a port inserted and the genetic testing done. My breast surgeon was amazing. The first thing she did was give me her cell phone number and told me to call her if I needed anything (this is important for a later situation). After my first appointment with the breast surgeon I called our local cancer services organization and got all the info I could from them but also I needed to know how to explain all of this to my son. So we got books and talked to him and told him exactly what was going on. I should tell you my son is a very emotional kiddo. So we explained it all and read a book and then we went about telling his teacher so if he started talking about it she would know. He handled everything like a champ. He was most worried about me losing my hair, he loved to play with my hair especially when he was tired so I knew that was going to be a hard spot for him. If it had not been for the resources the cancer services had given me I don’t know how we would have explained it all to him. The one thing that sticks out the most that she said was don’t ever tell him you are sick…you aren’t sick you have cancer. I think that statement was what got me through the whole process. I wasn’t sick, I didn’t have a cold or the flu, I had cancer! I started a Facebook group: Kenna’s Breast Beat Down as a way to share my story and to keep everyone updated as I went through the journey.
I was diagnosed on March 18th and had my first chemo on March 31st so needless to say it was a whirlwind 2 weeks. I was put on taxotere, carboplatin and Herceptin every three weeks. I had 6 full rounds of chemo and then finished the year of Herceptin. I had made my decision at my first appointment to have a double mastectomy because I didn’t want to worry about it coming back in my other breast. So I had chemo, last one was in July, I had talked my breast surgeon into doing my surgery in August because my blood numbers had been good all through the chemo. I didn’t have any issues during chemo except for neuropathy. I was scheduled to have my surgery and I was having my pre surgery appointment, four days before my surgery, with my plastic surgeon and he says I am not doing your surgery, it’s too close to the end of your chemo. I get to my car and call my breast surgeon, surprisingly she answers. I tell her what’s going on and she then calls me 10 minutes later letting me know to be back there at 7:30am in the morning and another doctor would perform my surgery on Tuesday. Don’t worry everything will be ok. Again I am freaked out but I can handle this. So I meet with the new doctor and he is amazing. We go to the hospital Tuesday amped up and ready to get this part over with, I am a pretty type A person so this whole process has been hard for me to not be able to control. After the surgery we got word that my margins came back clear and so did my lymph nodes. This might have been the best news I ever heard. I told myself I was only going to be off work for two weeks…and I was. I went back to work after 9 work days, still had 3 tentacles (drains). I think my doctors gave up telling me what to do, I showered after three days with my drains and all. I drove after a week. I was not going to let this dictate my life any more than it had. Yes, maybe I should have listened to the doctors, but it ended up okay. I healed well, started with the expanders or as I called them the fluff and fills every week. I was such a planner that in October I told my doctor when I wanted to do the exchange surgery and we got to an agreement. I had my exchange surgery on Dec. 22. Maybe not a great idea to do a few days before Christmas but I wanted it done before the New Year.
Port inserted, chemo done, mastectomy done, exchange surgery and port removal done all in 14 months. I was so thrilled to have all this stuff done and behind me….or so I thought. I started my new relationships with Tamoxifen as well during this time.
Well in September of 2018 I noticed my collarbone was a little swollen and I felt a bump. So I called my oncologists office and at first they thought it might have been because I was just getting over a cold and to just watch it. I got a call a couple days later from the nurse that they wanted me to come in. So of course here my husband and I go into the doctors office. Again I should say as soon as I felt it, I knew something wasn’t right, I honestly didn’t think it was cancer but I knew it wasn’t good. I saw the nurse practitioner and she wanted me to see the doctor. So here we go again…it was time to get scheduled for tests, etc. I had bone scans, CT scans, PET scans, biopsies. It was official I was Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. I had spots in my liver, lungs and lymph nodes through my chest and collarbone. It was a shock! I never thought I would be diagnosed again let along Stage 4. I will be honest I thought Stage 4 was a death sentence. I thought it meant the end was near, etc. I spoke with my breast surgeon and she talked me off the ledge and explained to me she had patients that had been NED (no evidence of disease) for 10+ years and were living full lives even with Stage 4 MBC. I was so scared. I started the journey again and in September of 2018 I started with taxol weekly and Herceptin and perjeta every three weeks. I recently completed 48 weeks of taxol and 16 rounds of Herceptin and perjeta. I am getting ready to have my ovaries removed even though I was BRCA negative they want to remove them to put me into menopause and make sure I stop producing hormones….yipee….here I come menopause…again!
I am blessed to be able to be here and share my story. I am also lucky to have an amazing husband that has stuck through all of this and went outside his comfort zone when I needed him the most, my son that I am sure doesn’t understand the full extent of it all but still is amazing and supportive, my family that sticks my me and offers to help whenever I need it and all of my friends. I truly could not have done this without the support system I have, it’s overwhelming but to know people are out there loving and supporting me and looking at me as an example makes me want to keep pushing on. Love you all and thanks for reading!