My breast cancer journey started when I felt a lump on my right breast back in April. I thought it was nothing or that it would go away, but a month after feeling that lump, I felt a second lump on the same breast. It actually scared me but because of COVID and the reality that deep down inside I was scared to really find out what it is, I didn't get check immediately. I waited until mid-June to get checked and had an ultrasound done. Of course, the ultrasound result was inconclusive so they recommended to do a biopsy. Normally, a doctor from Guam Radiology Center (GRC) goes to Saipan to do biopsies, but due to COVID they were not able to fly here. Amidst the increasing COVID in Guam, Jerry and I decided to go there and have the biopsy done at GRC instead of waiting for the time when the doctor is able to come to Saipan. At that time, we went through medical referral, which partially covered our expenses and helped us avoid being quarantined in Guam. We arrived in Guam August 17th, had my biopsy appointment the next day and a follow up appointment after a week to find out the result. August 25th, the day my life changed -- the biopsy result came back and we were told that I have breast cancer! I was in shock and kept crying the whole time the doctor was talking to us. My fear actually became a reality. I kept thinking why me, what happened, what did I do wrong? I couldn't stop thinking about my kids and my family. But like what the doctor said, we are lucky that we caught it at an early stage. The next few days that followed included getting all the testings (mammogram and MRI) done before we go back home to meet with the oncologist.
A week after our return, I was scheduled to meet with Dr. Brett, our oncologist in Saipan. We are really fortunate to now have an oncologist and a cancer center on island. Dr. Brett was very thorough in explaining everything to us -- the type of breast cancer I have (HER2+) and the treatment plan we will be doing (neoadjuvant -- 6 cycles of chemo first to try and shrink the lumps then surgery). He wanted to begin chemotherapy immediately since its been several months when this whole thing started. The next two weeks were back to back appointments for more testings (CT scan and echogram) and my portacath placement surgery. September 28th -- I started my first cycle of chemo. Fast forward to today -- I have finished 4 cycles of chemo and will have my 5th cycle soon. I am very fortunate to not have so much side effects from chemo besides the hair loss and fatigue.
I know you're all wondering why I started this fundraiser and here's the reason. Back in September when I had my CT scan prior to starting my chemo, they found a mass in my left pelvic area. This got me worried again, having to deal with another thing when I'm already going through breast cancer. A biopsy was done and the mass turned out to be benign, and was told that we will monitor it closely. Last December 16th, I had a follow up CT scan of the pelvic mass. The next day we met with Dr. Brett and he told us that the mass in enlarging. Although the biopsy said it is benign, he is concerned at the fact that it is growing. He recommended that we get the mass removed at the same time that I will be getting my breast surgery. Although I still have 2 more cycles left of chemo, Dr. Brett is recommending that I proceed with my 5th cycle but have the breast surgery and pelvic surgery right after. He feels that the lumps are not shrinking as fast as it should. So this means that I will be having surgeries some time in early January 2021. Getting myself emotionally ready for breast surgery was one thing, now I will be getting two different surgeries. I have never had any major surgeries, so this scares me and worries me, but I know God will guide me through this.
Dr. Brett will be referring me to San Diego for both the surgeries due to the fact that he wants a gynecologic oncologist to do the pelvic mass removal so that they can easily determine if the mass looks cancerous and if surrounding tissues will have to be removed as well. He said that it will take about 2 - 3 weeks for the referral to happen and that is very soon. We wanted to wait til after the holidays to do the fundraiser but because of the new findings and recommendations, we have to start sooner. Although I have health insurance, I am worried about the other expenses, such as any additional medical expense I might incur. I am hoping that with all your help, we will be able to get through this. Thank you all in advance!
- Mary Tabarsi Tsang
- Joey Mostales
- Lynn Mendiola
- Ronalyn Ivy Atienza
- Russ & Kanae Quinn
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