3/24/2011 @ 9:40am I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This was confirmed by a biopsy which was completed the day before. When the Dr. called me, I knew that the diagnosis was going to be Cancer because he told me he would call at 5pm but he called much earlier. At the time, I was at Kimberly Williams’ Salon and I immediately shared the news with Kim --- I think Kim took it harder than I did. Immediately, I was like ok, so I need a doctors appoint with an Oncologist. I called my PCP and explained that I was diagnosed and needed referrals and they said they would call me back…….. I then went home to tell my Mom who had come down to go to the biopsy appointment with me. I think she was shocked. I then called the doctor’s office again and they said that would leave a message for my PCP. I then called my sister, friends, etc. and that was the most time I’ve ever spent trying to convince everyone that I would be ok. Again, I called my PCP and explained that I was going to call until they gave me an appointment and they told me to come in now. I advised my PCP of the diagnosis and she began to tear up. I told her that I would be ok and she hugged me really tight. She’s still my PCP. So I left the doctors office with list in hand and had an Oncologist on the phone before the elevator reached the 1st floor. I chose an Oncologist close to my home so that I could continue to work. My appointment was the next week. Once I arrived at the Oncologist office, he was yelling at his staff and didn’t seem very personable and I thought “wow, did I make the right decision”? so in true Joy fashion, I just started crying and my Oncologist stopped what he was doing and asked what was wrong and advised him that he didn’t seem nice and personable and this was a difficult time, etc. and he then became the nicest man ever.
So after the initial consultation, my treatment plan consisted of 6 rounds of chemotherapy which totaled 18 weeks, a bilateral mastectomy and 32 rounds of radiation. This was actually the final outcome, my treatment plan changed probably 20 times and also consisted of my doctors arguing about what should be done, etc. it was difficult at times. Chemotherapy was difficult and consisted of most side effects that others experience – hair loss, constipation, sleeping constantly, weight loss, unable to eat, etc. I continued to work all the way up to my surgery date. Working during chemo was difficult but I was determined to not let the disease control my life. I then had a bilateral mastectomy in September 2011 – the surgery was 5 ½ hours and very painful. I was hospitalized 3 days and sent home with a morphine pump. In October, I had 2 additional surgeries to prevent infection and late October, I began 32 rounds of radiation. I did not experience any side effects from radiation which was a true blessing. Radiation lasted through the end of the year and I returned to work the 1st of the year. I was so determined to return to work because I wanted to prove that I could beat this and cancer was not going to rule my life. I then began to take Herceptin which is a drug that kills future cancer. I had diagnostics a few months later and some cells seemed to be abnormal so the Doctor continued the Herceptin. Several months later, it appeared that the cancer was still present and the doctor suggested another round of chemo therapy which I agreed to. The cancer supposedly went into remission and I was stable for maybe a year or so. Later, I had diagnostics and the cancer appeared to be present again, in my lymph nodes so chemo was requested again and at this point, I changed Doctors. My new doctor recommended a few different options but later felt like chemo was the only way to treat the disease so I agreed to the treatment plan and began chemo therapy – again.
Fast forward to Sept 2016, I began to develop a cough and the doctors could not figure out what was going on and wanted to cut out half of my lung – well I couldn’t breathe and I coughed every 5th word or so, so I agreed to the surgery. The day before the surgery (mid November), I woke up and my left leg was swollen twice as big as my right leg and I knew that I had developed a blood clot. My husband rushed me to the hospital and I was in ICU for 2 weeks and according to my doctor, my prognosis did not look good at all. During my stay, I had 3 surgical procedures and by the grace of God, I made it out of ICU and by Christmas, I was stronger and I didn’t lose half my lung. Once I was released, my doctor recommended chemotherapy (again) because he stated that all of my problems were due to the cancer becoming worse and the disease spreading throughout my body. I disagreed and stated that I was going to MD Anderson to see if there were other treatment options. So we traveled to MD Anderson and a treatment plan was developed which failed so another plan was created which stabilized the disease but did not kill the cancer which is the goal. I am now on my 3rd treatment plan and it appears to be working. I will have diagnostics within the next couple of weeks.
Through all the pain, I smile, in confusion, I understand, in fear, I push forward because I know that God is with me through it all. This is my story but this is NOT my song.