The unfortunate part, I suppose, about being in that mindset is how truly...TRULY... blindsided you are when you receive the news that your life is about to change, forever.
Mid September, 2012, at a routine new-patient appt with a wonderful physician here in town, I had a bothersome lump--if you will--area of my right breast checked out.
Over the summer, this area had gone from something I had had an ultrasound on that past fall (and was told 'it was nothing') to something roughly the size of an apricot.
As soon as our physician felt it, he ordered another ultrasound. On that world-wind, what felt like life standing-still day, I underwent three separate ultrasounds as well as two thorough mammograms. An hour and a half later, I was told I could go and that they would be getting back to me by as early as possible.
...and sooo... the waiting game began.
That weekend, my three boys and I spent as much time together as possible, scooping up and in absolutely every moment of every day, feeling strongly that scary news was on the horizon.
September 25th, at the age of 32, while at my eldest's karate class, my cell phone rang. Seeing that it was my physician I ran out to answer it... knowing that if they were calling me at near closing and were STILL going to be issuing me some news, it couldn't be good.
Sure enough, the secretary muttered 'Can you be here in 30 minutes?'
Standing there in the lobby of the Roseburg Martial Arts Academy, I did EVERYTHING I COULD to respond without tears... but as soon as I went to speak, the dam broke.
Noticing my turmoil, the academy secretary assured me I could leave and as long as someone could be there to pick the boys up, she'd stay as long as she had to.
After a hand-trembling dial to Aaron, we rushed to meet at home and go together.
We already knew. But maybe even then, were still hopeful.
We actually made our physician, who seems like a really 'together' person, cry.
The Definitive Diagnosis:
I had the most common type of breast cancer there is, statistically. However, given that it was about a year and a half progressed, it had spread into a number of my lymph nodes.
A team of OHSU doctors & specialists (approximately 25 total professionals) put together a plan involving chemo, then surgery and finally radiation. You can read further details of each stage of treatment we underwent under The Courage Plan link on the home page.
Throughout our 11-month-long battle, we took great comfort in our Lord Jesus Christ. This really can happen to ANYONE. It was uplifting to hear from people and know that my journey inspired them to self-examine and deduct what is IMPORTANT in their lives and what, well, isn't.
This life is short and it's fragile and above all us, calls us ALL to LIVE FOR EACH MOMENT.
We cannot say enough thanks... there are absolutely NO WORDS to express our appreciation for the MANY thoughts and prayers that surrounded our little family over this most trying year in our lives.
People are amazing. And God is Awe-some.
**Chemotheraphy began Monday, October 29th, 2012 and treatments were administered every Monday at OHSU.
Initial chemo phase: Received 12 weeks of infusions every week of a chemo drug called Paclitaxel and a study drug called Neratinib along with periodic MRI's and biopsies to track progress.
Secondary chemo phase: Received 8 weeks of every OTHER week infusions of a chemo drug called Adriamycin Cytoxin.
**Surgery was Tuesday, April 9th of 2013 at OHSU.
By our request, doctors performed a skin-sparing Bilateral Mastectomy and Axillary Lymph Dissection--performed over the course of just under 5 hours.
(Posted by Aaron during our hospital stay):
Mon, Apr 8th- 11:15pm
Pre-op appointments today confirmed that surgery will be held in the Multnomah Pavillion at 11am after which Hayley will be transferred over to the main hospital and assigned a recovery room until Thursday. Check back for that room number as well as surgery details tomorrow.
Tues, Apr 9th- 9:48am
Hayley is checked in, and we are back in pre-op. She is positive and in good spirits. :)
Tues, Apr 9th- 12:56pm
Hay is presently in surgery and has been since 11am. I should have an update around 2-3pm after the first surgeon is done. Thank you for the prayers.
Tues, Apr 9th- 1:36pm
Just spoke with Dr. Naik (the oncology/breast surgeon) - she is done with the mastectomy/axillary dissection and everything went well; no surprises. The plastic surgeon is just going in.
Tues, Apr 9th- 3:44pm
Hayley is out of surgery and in recovery. I just spoke with Dr. Thakar, and she is very pleased with how the surgery went. No complications - couldn't have gone better. Praise God! :)
Tues, Apr 9th- 6:07pm
Hayley is finally up to her room. Pretty out of it and in a high amount of pain; waiting for pain meds. Room is nice and has a great view once she is able to see out of it. :)
Wed, Apr 10th- 6:33am
After a long evening of servere pain, Hayley's nurses finally got on top of her pain and were able to get it under control, which was quite a relief! She is now pretty bright-eyed and awake from all her sleeping post surgery yesterday, and all are taking it as a great sign that she wants a breakfast menu and is counting down the minutes to order up some food! :)
Wed, Apr 10th- 8:50am
Anyone wanting to stop in for a quick visit today - Hayley is indicating 1-4pm as good times. We are int the Kohler Pavilion, floor 13, room 14. Call if you would like to drop in at a different time - (503) 346-1314.
Wed, Apr 10th- 7:52pm
Today has been a good day for Hayley! :) Her pain has been mostly under control and seems to be progressively improving. She has been able to get up and walk short distances 3 times today, with progressively less pain each time (gravity!). She has been eating well and only had one period of nausea/vomiting after walking the second time. She has had several visitors and has been snoozing quite a bit when she can. Her spirits are great, and she has been gracing us consistently with her beautiful smile. :)
Thursday, Apr 11th- 9:58am
Hayley has been awake since around 5:30am this morning. Already had breakfast, walked around, seen the surgical teams again for their morning rounds. A little more nausea today than previous days but they still think she gets to go home in an hour or so!
Thanks again for all your prayers. We are eager to get home for the second part of this recovery.
Friday, Apr 12th- 12noon
**Radiation began Tuesday, June 11th 2013 and was performed by wonderful team under Dr. Julie Gemmel at the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. Over that summer, I received a total of 33 general treatments that targeted the whole right side from the waist up to the top and backside of my collar-bone. This was the last phase of initial treatment and after my final scan, I was told 'as far as we know, you are now cancer-free.'
**As of May 2013, I was prescribed the management drug, Tamoxifen, that is--in layman's terms--a hormone-receptor modulator that basically beats cancer-receptors to the punch, before they can attach to any estrogen that is left in my body.
As of now, the plan is to take this oral drug daily, for at minimum, the next 3 years... likely 5 and possibly even 10.
**Also as of May 2013, I began receiving a target-chemo drug called Herceptin. Every three weeks I go in and receive this infusion.
Herceptin is a chemotherapy that only kills the Her-2 receptor of cells...one of the receptors that my cancer was highly attracted to. (It's called being Her-2 positive). This infusion will be mandatory for me for at least the next year, possibly two...depending on their findings in the year to come.