That's it. Cancer. Everything in you says it's the end. After all, you don't hear a lot of positive stories on cancer. Sure, some people overcome it after long, painful, tiresome treatments. Some even come out of it after a simple surgery. Truth is, though, not one of those people continues through life without wondering if it will return, and what type of fight they'll be forced into then.
We're not coming at it from that point-of-view, though. Cancer is a word. It is not a sentence. It does not define an individual or their outcome.
Our beautiful Mom/Sister/Aunt/Friend, Belinda, was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in recent weeks. She found a lump in her breast, went for a mammogram, and they came back and said she had an approximate quarter size tumor in her right breast, and they also saw a tumor in her lymph glands under her arm.
After the mammogram, she underwent 2 biopsies to verify cancer and type. IDC is the most common breast cancer among women (also known to affect a small percentage of men). The medical team discussed the plan with her to complete chemotherapy treatments, have surgery to remove the tumors, and then finalize the treatments with a round of radiation. Shortly after the second biopsy, however, she had swelling come up on her chest with an incredible amount of pain in tow. It seemed to be an infection in the muscle tissue as well as inflammation causing the pain. It spread quickly through her neck and down her left side. The doctors put her on a 2 week antibiotic treatment, but it did not seem to touch the swelling or the pain.
After completing the additional scans in follow-up to the biopsies to ensure the cancer hadn't spread (including a breast MRI, full torso CT, and a bone scan), it was determined the pain and swelling in her chest and other areas were, in fact, because of the cancer.
The good news... It doesn't appear from the torso CT that any additional organs have been affected. The bad news... There are seven places throughout her body where the breast cancer has metastasized to the bones. It is on the back of her skull, upper spine, tailbone, sternum, 12th rib (left), pelvis, and left femur.
The doctors have placed her on a pain patch to help with the immense pain. When asked on a scale of 1-10 what her pain level was, it was at the top of a double or tripled scale. After a few days on the pain patch, she was able to rate the pain below a 5, which is wonderful. It does cause extreme fatigue, however, so there are trade-offs, but we will take it for now!
Belinda has begun a round of 18 radiation treatments focused on her sternum and 12th rib, which are the largest and most painful metastasis. The other metastasis will be left as they are and will hopefully shrink with the other treatments she will receive, as radiation will cause her bones to become even more brittle.
She has been instructed to stop working. In addition, she cannot do anything that uses much muscle. They used the example of only being able to lift the weight of a cup of coffee at most. Doing anything more, including daily chores of simply wiping off the counters, for example, uses muscles in the body that can pull on the bone structure causing her bones, brittle from the cancer, to break.
The doctors said the cancer is spreading at such a rapid rate because of the estrogen levels in her body. Therefore, the approach for the rest of the cancer treatments is to give her a prescription to halt the estrogen production and follow that with a round of chemotherapy pills to shrink the tumors in her breast, under her arm, and those that have metastasized to her bones. There is no plan at this point to remove the original tumor in her breast.
The medical team has also stated there is no "cure" for this cancer. The approach they are taking is to shrink and maintain the cancer.
Make no mistake, though. Our plan is for her to overcome the cancer completely. She has started making lifestyle changes along with the medical treatments, such as a clean-eating regime, and we are believing in a complete recovery. We are going to kick cancer to the curb. No question.
With her inability to work and being single, bills will continue to come in, medical treatments will continue to build up, and stress levels can be insurmountable with everything coming at once. Anything you can give will help tremendously. Prayers are much appreciated as well.
We will post regularly with updates throughout her treatments, so everyone can keep up to date on this amazing woman you are investing in with prayer or monetary assistance. We love and thank you all so very much. We are so blessed to have you all in our lives.
Please share this story. At a minimum, we want to bring attention to the cause of breast cancer. Anything raised above the needs for medical treatments and living costs will be donated to breast cancer research.
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