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Potential Breast Cancer Treatment

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Chasingcars | 22:20 Sat 07th May 2022 | Body & Soul
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I noticed a slight puckering/crease to underside of left breast. Immediately saw Dr who referred me to breast clinic.
After examination,mammograms and ultrasound they also took a biopsy. Waiting for results this Friday (13th!) but been told highly likely it's cancerous .
The lump is 7mm and they believe it's contained and we've caught it early which sounds positive.
I also have an MRI booked next week too.
In meantime welcome any advice or information of anyone in similar situation as what treatment I can expect. Assuming surgery and then possibly radiotherapy or chemo.
I'm 43, non drinker, non smoker and fit and active. No family history at all. I have one daughter who's 9 years old ( I did breastfeed for 6 months) and breaks my heart that I may not be around for as long in her life as I thought.
I'm trying to remain optimistic but going to be a long week waiting!
Is 7mm lump big in the cancer world? My GP couldn't find it nor the consultant initially only that the left breast felt bit different. They said I did well to find the creasing and caught it early. Only mammograms and ultrasound that showed up the lump.
Many thanks in advance x

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Hi Chasingcars - in answer to your last question, a lumpectomy does not leave a dent, the surgeons are brilliant and probably use a guide wire (that's inserted through the nipple in the radiology dept ) and they remove the tumour without cutting through flesh to find the tumour, it is very neatly done, this time last year, I was where you are now, after radiotherapy and now anti breast cancer tablets (I was er postitive) I am feeling very well, back in 2004 I had my 1st breast cancer in the other breast and had full mastectomy and reconstruction, if you don't need it, don't take it as the cancer may never come back and if it does, it may not be in the breast you first had a cancer - since my first cancer I have had my ovarian cancer too, so, my advice to you is go with the surgeon and oncologist and believe me, the best survival cancer rate is that of breast cancer. As sqad said and I would have said too, is, it's not the size of tumor that matters but the stage - from what you say, I think you have caught it early - wishing you good health, you will have good days and bad but you will come through this x Ducks
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Thanks Buenchico, those links are great, super informative thankyou.
And Ducksie, likewise didn't realise how small the surgery would be...i had visions of a big chunk of boob being sliced out.
Sounds like it's also done with aesthetics in mind with hiding potential scar lines.
So glad to hear your doing so well and hope I find myself in similar position to you , although of course sorry to hear about your Ovarian cancer.
Amazing for people to be through so much and remain so positive.
I feel the same and although start of my journey feel I'm fairly lucky on where I am and options available.
Sending you both very best wishes x
Chasingcars - we all go through this differently but I think buen and Choux explained it great, I have rang a bell 3 times so far and count myself lucky and that keeps me positive - as you've been told earlier, get the facts from your team, go through the treatment, take the good days with the bad and I promise you, you'll come back here in a year or less and think, gosh, I have all the answers, you will have met and experienced so much ... no matter what you go through, you will tell your grandchildren all about it when that time comes x Ducks
Good luck
and chrissakes listen to your doctor

Amazing for people to be through so much and remain so positive
no
Amazing for people to be through so much and remain still alive
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Thankyou PP.
Next appointment tomorrow so hopefully know some more then.
Hoping there's not going to be any surprises and just good news about we move forward now.
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Well I was due to see consultant at 10.45 but
Hospital rang me so saved me a drive!
MRI results back and good news is lump is contained to left boob and in one place. It's a little larger than first thought at 3cm but smaller than what it could have been. Its not spread.
The lump is near skin so they said they have to consider different surgery options.
The team meet every Wednesday to discuss treatment plan but my MRI results didn't get back in time for this week's meeting.
So I'm being discussed next Weds morning and have my meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Surgery booked for June 16th but don't know final surgery option till Wednesday plus then confirmation of radio and /or chemo.
So a bit more news but still feel in limbo and opp feels a while still.....!
But remaining positive this is treatable and still relatively small.
X
That must be relieving news to you, Chasingcars, it would be to me :)

You have not too long to wait for surgery and enough time to get everything settles at home. Enjoy the Platinum celebrations with your family and keep yourself relatively busy. It is amazing how the days will roll by, well, I found it so, but I was a lot older than you at the same stage.

I have been wondering about your daughter and how she is coping with any change in atmosphere or information you have given her. I think that would be my greatest concern.

Life must be just one day at a time for you. I hope you are able to say exactly how you feel to your OH or any other special person in your life, that is so important. AB is not quite the same substitute as you don't know anyone personally, but take heart from what is written by others here. You have plenty of well wishers I am sure and there is sound advice from those with personal experience.

Ducksie wrote of the fantastic success with breast cancer and she is so right. You are very lucky to have this diagnosed at an early stage, always crucial.

Keep making time for yourself to relax and enjoy what gives you the most pleasure. You have my continued best wishes xx

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Thanks Choux X
Yes very relieved. To be honest I was getting in car to go to hospital yesterday so when they rang made me out the blue it did make me panic a little and then a little flustered!!
Initially a little frustrated as I find it easier to sit in front of someone and ask questions, plus I still have a lot of unknowns.... but I have a surgery date so I can focus on that and MRI results were as we'd expected.

I'm not sure yet what surgery will be so not sure about recovery and what I can and can't do. Ie how long can't I drive and what can I do etc .
I know mastectomy is a longer recovery period.
We've had a huge amount of support from friends and family with offers of help and practical things which is great but I've never really asked for help and just don't want to feel my little girl is suffering because of it.

You mentioned my daughter and she is my absolute priority trying to keep life normal for her.
I've spoken to about the current situation and she understands whats happening. She's 9 nearly 10 and a clever girl.
I've used the word cancer but I didn't build up into some dramatic announcement as didn't want it to be a word that's scary and likewise didn't want it rarely mentioned but something she can openly talk about, I guess like how COVID became over the last 2 years. Conversations aren't hidden I talk in front of her when appropriate.

Whenever I've had appointments we discuss why I'm going and she's know I've got a lump and I may need surgery.
I've explained the MRI and scans as she's fascinated by anything science!
We've spoken to the school as well and both her tea hers and head teachers are aware and they've been hugely supportive. They've noticed no change in her behaviour,nor have we . She's very matter of fact and she's asked questions where relevant.
My husband took the diagnosis really bad ,much harder than me but seems to be better now we know the have the facts about what it is and the plan although a little sketchy.
He buried himself in Google initially,but had to ask him to stick to Macmillan site as was asking me tonnes of questions I couldn't really answer.

I'm sure surgery will soon come round. I've planned to take half term week off work so spend time with my little girl. She's actually got her first Brownies pack holiday over jubilee weekend for 4 days but plan to spend first part of week with her. She's excited so want her to carry on do normal stuff.
We have a big BBQ next week with lots of friends from our antenatal group we met 10 years ago. They've all been huge help too and are close friends now.

For me now I just want to know level of surgery and if I'll have radio or chemo. The hospital still waiting on HERS2 result so chemo may be likely still. That's the part that fills me with dread because my limited knowledge of this is being in hospital for days on end ,months and months at a time. Timing wise could take out the summer, and for my little girl just fear she misses out if I'm suddenly a sick mummy in hospital when I've always been very present in her life and doing stuff together.

I've taken huge comfort from not only the positive survival rates mentioned but for everyone here who has commented . Every bit of information has helped me hugely and suddenly feel a bit more at ease with everything.
Hopefully by Weds next week I'll have the final answers so I can make more plans.
And on a practical note, for anyone who had surgery what practical advice can you suggest or things I should be thinking about now?

Many thanks to you all and my best wishes x
This isn't personal info but my sister had a complete double mastectomy 2 years ago. She lives in the US where their approach to treatment seems to be quite different. She had just handed her notice In and was starting a new job. She started that new job around 11 days after her op! I'm not sure if she'd have had a chance to be at home She would have done that but she didn't, so she just carried on (successfully). Obviously a double mastectomy is a bigger op than a lumpectomy. I told you to let you know ow what was possible after treatment. She has also elected to have a hysterectomy now, I think that's probably because of the hormone factor involved in her particular cancer. She also managed chemotherapy and reconstruction on her extremely short sick pay from work (Americans have miniscule sick/ holiday pay) and I'm sure whatever you have is more if you're worried about how much time you'll have to take off sick.
C/c that is a lovely post @ 13:00 and, from my point of view, you have done absolutely the right thing with your daughter. Sounds as though that young lady will go far :)

Sometimes OH's can have a difficult time absorbing the information, I do understand. When I got my diagnosis I took it all in my my stride but driving home I was thinking of how to tell my OH to minimise impact and be reassuring.

Don't forget that some chemo is given in the form of drugs that you can take at home.

Delighted you have social gatherings to look forward to. They will help pass the time I am sure.

Thank you so much for your long reply, I always look out for your updates x
Chasingcars, sending you my very best wishes xx
Question Author
Hi all X
Well latest hospital appointment yesterday, longest one so far of 2 hours!

All pretty positive and couple options;
First off surgery bought forward to the 8th June which I'm happy about .
I can have lumpectomy,but where the lump is near skin, they'd have to take some skin out as well, normally they take lump under the skin so this means they'd close up the gap meaning boob becomes a bit smaller. Plus side is after my other treatment I can have surgery to reduce the other boob to match.if I desire.
Or I can have a mastectomy.
Normally they'd do recon at same time but because theres going to be a 'hole'in skin from the lump they can't use remaining skin to pop an implant it. It has to heal and then do recon after other chemo or radio.

Either way because the lump is borderline size for chemo, they want to send a sample off from surgery to US lab.(?) This examines it more closely to determine if chemo would benefit me.
If it does, then after surgery, 4 week recovery then start chemo. 6rounds, each 21 day cycle. Apparently this is common for BC chemo?
Then a month off and then radiotherapy daily for 3 weeks.
After that I could have reduction of boob or recon. Finish off with meds for few years.
Chemo may not be needed in which case straight to radiotherapy so could be done and dusted in August time, with any surgery in sept.
Feels like a lot going on but the fact they are giving me options is good.
I have pre op Monday and then another scan day before to inject radioactive dye into lymph nodes as they plan to remove and check these during surgery too.
So lots to take in and need to make decision on surgery but feeling happy I can get going.
Can't say I'm excited about thought of chemo but it's one day every 3 weeks which is better than I thought.and....i may not need it.

Any further advice and comments most welcome
Thanks allx
Feedback much appreciated.
I had family members who had lobular breast cancer. I found the forum on the Breastcancercare website helpful. I think it's called something else now (breastcancernow)? It might be worth signing up with a username and password. Don't read too much into what people say though - every case is different x
Question Author
Thankyou 237SJ will take a look.
There are people on there who are very clued-up on breast cancer and as far as I can remember, they had forums where you could speak to breast care nurses.
Hi again, Chasingcars.

I'm glad that things seem to be moving along in a generally positive way for you.

I've already told you how easy I found radiotherapy to be but, as there's now a possibility that you might have chemotherapy, I'll throw in my tuppence worth here in the hope that it might give you some information about it:

The first thing to note though is that my chemo was for Stage 4 prostate cancer (that I'm still living with, as it's not completely curable), so there might be some differences when compared to treatment for Stage 1 breast cancer. However I was also told that I'd have 6 sessions at three-weekly intervals. (After I'd had 6 though, the consultant said that I could stop if I really wanted to but he'd rather that I tried for 10. Given that the chemo nurses had told me that it was totally impossible for anyone to get through more than 8 sessions at the mega-high dose that I was on, as people's bodies simply couldn't take it, I wasn't exactly pleased at the prospect of another 4 sessions but I got through them in the end).

The other thing to say is that everyone is different and two people having identical treatments might experience very different side effects. Having got that lot out of the way though, here's my input (which is based not only upon my own experiences but also upon those of other people that I spoke to during my chemo sessions):

If you have chemo you will, undoubtedly, experience some side effects. However don't allow yourself to be scared by the full list of possible side effects that you'll probably be given in a leaflet or booklet. You'll only have very few of them.

The one that probably worries people the most is nausea. (Nobody exactly relishes the thought of continually feeling sick for several months in a row). However, while a small percentage of people might be unlucky in that respect, most people seem to have very little, if any nausea at all. I didn't experience a single moment of queasiness throughout any of my sessions or after them. Further, you'll get anti-nausea treatment during your chemo session and anti-nausea drugs to take after them as well.

The only problems I had with my digestive tract were incredible heartburn (which was easily and fully treated with omeprazole) and severe constipation (which was fully dealt with by an over-the-counter product, Laxido, from my local pharmacy).

One 'almost certain' side effect of chemo is hair loss. Even so, the timing and extent can vary widely between patients. I had a lady friend who had chemo but didn't start to lose any hair until a few weeks after her treatments had ended (and she didn't lose very much of it). I, on the other hand, found that my hair was falling out just two or three days after my first session. Despite that, I still kept much of the hair that was left on my head anyway (as I have male pattern baldness), while losing hair from everywhere else on my body. (Getting on for two years after my chemo, I've still hardly got any eyebrows or eyelashes). During my chemo sessions, I met some fellow patients who still appeared to have a full head of hair, while others were totally bald, so it does vary quite a lot.

The other 'almost certain' side effect is tiredness. I certainly experienced plenty of that and most other people seemed to as well. I got through it easily enough though by simply sleeping whenever I wanted to, and for however long I felt like, which usually left me with plenty of energy during my waking hours.

As I was on a 'maximum dose' treatment, I also experienced a bit of 'chemo brain', leading to mild forgetfulness or confusion but I doubt very much that you'd have any similar problems.

The actual chemo sessions themselves are very easy. Mine were all scheduled for 10am, and I was invariably leaving the hospital around 1pm, so that might give you a rough idea of how long each session takes. (Note though that every treatment is individually planned, so your . . .
. . . experience might differ somewhat from mine).

You simply sit in a nice comfy chair, wearing your normal clothes. After asking you a few questions, to check that they've got the right patient and to check up on how you've been faring since your previous session, the nurse puts a heated pad around one of your hands, to make it easy to find a vein. A few minutes later she'll return to insert a canula into the back of your hand and attach a drip to it. Over the next few hours, the nurse will change the drip several times, as you receive the chemo, antibiotics and anti-nausea treatments, together with some 'flushes' in between them. However you can totally ignore that and get on with reading your book or newspaper, browsing the web on your phone or whatever else you choose to do while you're there. (One lady I knew got a great deal of knitting done during her chemo sessions!).

You'll probably be offered tea or coffee during your chemo sessions, possibly with some biscuits, so the whole thing is very relaxed indeed. You don't have to stay in your chair. If you want to go the the loo, for example, you can simply unplug the machine that's pumping drugs into you and make your way there with the wheeled stand that's holding your drip. (The machine has an internal battery, just like a laptop does, so it carries on doing its job when you unplug it).

At the end of my each session, you'll be given drugs to take for a few days afterwards. You might also be given, as I was, prefilled syringes to inject antibiotics into your stomach wall each day for the next five days. (If you've not had to self inject before, don't worry. It's nowhere near as hard as it sounds!).

You'll be told to avoid crowded places (such as lifts or busy Tube trains) for the next few days, as your immune system will be almost non-existent for a while. You'll also be given a card with a 24-hour phone number on it, to call if you experience any extremely rare but potentially serious side effects (which will be explained to you) or if you've got any other concerns at all about any side effects that you might suffer. Then you can go home and get on with your life!

That's enough of my ramblings for now, anyway! I hope that something I've written might help you and that I've not scared you too much! It really is all remarkably simple really ;-)

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