“The summer (2016) before my last semester of nursing school I was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma, estrogen, and progesterone positive, and lobular carcinoma.
My doctor told me that my only risk factor was that I was female. No family history, no hx of smoking or drug use. (suspected birth control pills was the culpret).
I had surgery August 4th 2016.
The Nursing Director was concerned and recommended that I take a medical leave of absence to recover. That devastated me, I think more than the diagnosis of cancer. I wanted to graduate with my classmates that I grew to love.
I started back at school 3 weeks later with the blessing of my Oncologist, Surgeon, and PCP. Thankfully, the professors and nursing director were supportive of my decision to stay.
Staying in school meant that I was responsible for all the requirements to graduate: clinical hours, homework, classwork, tests. I never missed a class, passed all my exams, and completed all my work.
I was supposed to start “the red devil” chemo (the one that your hair falls out), but after the oncologist changed the plan of care 4 times, September 8th 2016, I found out my cancer won’t respond to it and did not have to take it.
During September and October 2016, I had radiation every day, Monday through Friday. I would have it around 5 am on Friday, then go to Clinicals for 2nd shift Friday and Saturday. It left me exhausted and burned.
I graduated December 16th, 2016. Passed NCLEX February 14th 2017 with 75 questions.
I got a job right away at Natchaug. It was my first choice. I had a good clinical experience there and really liked the manager, Amanda, and the nurses on the pediatric and adolescent unit where I was assigned.
I feel like I am leaving out my emotions during this time. It was a roller coaster ride. The information I received changed so much and still does, it felt like medical professionals don’t really have a handle on this disease. At one visit, my oncologist said that my cancer was sneaky, it will attach itself to white blood cells and travel throughout my body. It will lay dormant, like in my brain or spine where there are plenty of blood vessels. It will wait, and proliferate, fed by my body’s progesterone and estrogen. I have been perseverating on this. This has now left me hypervigilant, anxious, and an insomniac.
I spent many hours traveling to doctors. I travelled all over the state. Almost 1,000 miles that first week, during the initial phase. I saw a genetic professional, oncologist, PCP, surgeon, eye doctor, endocrinologist, rheumatologist, GYN, and had MRIs, ultrasounds, mammograms, physical therapist and lots, and lots of bloodwork.
Again, the plan of care changed. January 2017, I started a chemo drug that specifically targeted my cancer, ER+ PR+. I go to The Helen and Harry Gray Cancer Center in Hartford once a month for treatment. My insurance initially denied my claim and that was $4500.00 a month. I fought that. My deductible with my insurance is high. My “co-insurance” is super high.
From the removal of lymph nodes and radiation, I developed lymphedema in my left arm and left flank. The insurance does not cover the compression garments and PT/OT that I need to keep this under control.
Bills are piling up and it is overwhelming.
I recently found out that this chemo is not working. I need surgery.”
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