Third surprise, Breast Cancer.   46 comments

One week after joining Rob in Port Shepstone in Natal, I found the lump in my breast that had been there for five years, seemed to be getting bigger. It had never been painful before, but now my arm was irritating the side of my breast.

Five years earlier when I’d found this lump, I’d seen our family Doctor, he had done the syringe bit, painful I might add, removed fluid and sent it for testing. The results said the lump was benign.

I asked for the lump to be removed anyway, but the Dr. said it was unnecessary, as this was just a cyst and not dangerous, it was an occurrence in woman approaching menopause. But to be safe I should return yearly for tests just to make sure, this I did religiously.

Now not knowing any Doctors on the coast we asked around and luckily one of the woman at Robs work told us who to see. The Doctor was a member at Rob’s golf course and agreed to see us. Again the syringe test to remove fluid and sent off for testing. The awaited phone call was a few days in coming, but when it did, it was cancer. Why, what next, was this to be the start of a new chapter of our lives.

I was devastated, only eighteen months after the Oncocytoma, this could not be happening and I phoned Rob asking him to come home. When I told him the news shock was written all over his face, we sat and really didn’t know what to say to each other. I think our thoughts were the same.

The Doctor wanted to remove the lump as soon as possible, so we made the arrangements with the Medical Company and a date was set.

In the hospital the day of the operation the Doctor came to speak with us both, he was going to remove the lump as well as a good part surrounding it, also lymph nodes from the arm pit which would tell him if the cancer had spread. He also said that if he found things that did not look good during the operation, he would recommend the total removal of the breast, in fact he would recommend a double Mastectomy.

This news was given to us just before the op and we immediately agreed, to do what was necessary. I was surprised at Rob’s reaction, after all he is a “boob man”, but I think, like me he wanted the cancer gone no matter what the consequence. On my way to the theatre I prayed; “God I am in your hands, whichever way you want this to go, please give me the courage to handle it.”

When I came round my chest was heavily bandaged and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I had a breast anymore. The Doctor did not take long to arrive to tell us that everything looked good and the nodes seemed clear, but the last results should be in the following day. I still had my boobs, praise the Lord.

The following day I’d gone to the toilet when there was a knock, I called that I was busy, but the door opened and in marched the Doctor. Here I was sitting on the loo with the Doc sitting talking to me (very embarrassing). The results were in and all seemed fine the cancer seemed not to have spread. Radiation would be the following step after the healing of the wound.

I met my new oncologist, a woman that was to take me through the next step, radiation. She felt that from the Doctors report and the pathologists report chemo would not be necessary, but the taking of Arimidex for five years was her recommendation.

The Doctor had told us this might be a forthcoming from the Oncologist and had told Rob he would not allow his wife to take it. He felt this was still a test drug and that the results were not that conclusive enough, to warrant the “hell” it put women through.

We discussed this and Rob felt it was my choice as I had the cancer and not him, he would go with whatever I decided. After many thoughts I decided anything that gave a half chance of the breast cancer not returning was worth the effort.

The radiation started, we had to travel 100 kilometres to a hospital in Durban every day for six weeks. Rob had asked permission from his employees and they stood completely behind him. So every day we travelled through, fortunately the hospital was on the side of town from where we came so we tended to miss the heavy rush hour traffic.

Our first visit was by far the worst, a waiting room full of people waiting their turn, and not knowing what awaited me did not help matters. But everyone in the waiting room looked so serious and sad, Rob’s first comment was it seemed like God’s waiting room. The treatment only took ten minutes, from getting undressed, one minute of radiation and then getting dressed again to going home.

Six weeks of this made me think it was going to be easy, the only thing was the air of sad and gloom in the waiting room. Now Rob being deaf, tends to talk loudly and I’m for ever having to give him the sign to talk quieter. He would enter the waiting room and greet everyone in a loud and booming voice, this surprised many, but when we sat, chatted and laughed it tended to bring a smile to the others faces who could not help but overhear Rob’s conversation.

On one occasion he even fell asleep while I went in for treatment, and this had the room more than smiling, especially with his snoring. Things seemed to be cruising along until I developed a sore under the breast, it became raw and almost blister like. This was apparently normal and they gave me a treatment and a gauze type sheet to place on it.

Rob would have to do this as I could only see it by lifting my boob and using a mirror. My “boob man” husband who normally would not have needed any encouragement to touch, was now afraid. I think the application and removal hurt him more than me and he had to do this every day for 30 odd days and at the end he became quite the professional.

The last day of treatment was the day before Christmas and I asked Rob to take me shopping for gifts for the staff that had administered the radiation. They had all been so good and friendly and for some reason enjoyed Rob’s happy way while in the waiting room. In a way I was sorry to see the end, not for the treatment, but because of the people I was going to miss.

Through all of this, my faith is what kept me strong, support from my family and of course, a sense of humour.

The Arimidex began after this and I’m not sure I would recommend this to anyone, yet I would, if it was going to save a life and stop the dreaded breast cancer from returning.

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46 responses to “Third surprise, Breast Cancer.

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  1. Scary, this is definitely an ordeal no one should go through alone. I would rather listen to someone talking in a waiting room than unruly kids running around.

    • Thank you Gobetween, I thank The Lord for my husband, family and friends that where there for me in my hour of need.

  2. Another nasty set of ordeals. It must have seemed rather unfair, somehow.
    I see something went wrong with my previous ‘follow’, so I haven’t known you have been posting. Hopefully it will work, now!

  3. YOU HAVE A BEAUTIFUL SOUL! I good to hear you story, laughter and love is the key to healing, glad you are doing good.

  4. Linda, I have only known you a short time, but I can tell you are a beautiful soul. I am blessed beyond words that you have your faith and the love of a wonderful family to get you through all you have endured. I thank God every day that He has crossed our paths. You are in my thoughts and prayers daily, Sweet Friend.

  5. Linda, again I have no words… I admire your strength and faith.
    *hugs*

  6. Reading your story, Linda, has made me realise how very fortunate I am. One never knows what may happen in the future though, and your account of how you and Rob have dealt with this is truly inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing your journey, and I wish you all the very best for the future. *hugs*

  7. During our worst God, family and true friends help us through and make us realize how blessed we are. Your story is a breathing example of hope and faith. Of love that endures and lights us our days. God bless my friend.

  8. During the worst and scary moments of our lives, it’s faith , love and hope that help us overcome the odds. It is when we realize life blessed us with a Loving God, family and true friends. Your story is a inspiring reminder to never give up. That there is light beyond a dark tunnel. God bless you and your family.

    • Thank you Island , I whole heartedly agree with you about a Loving God, family and true friends, that is why I am writing my story, and also to let people know that there can be life after cancer, and that with God, nothing is impossible. Have a good day my friend, and say Hi to your family for me.

  9. The to-ing and fro-ing of extended hospital treatments really takes it out of a person, I’m not surprised that he fell asleep in the waiting room. 😉 You have amazing composure through all of this, and Rob is a champ too. Standing by each other through every thing, big or small. What an inspirational couple you two are!

  10. Your bravery and heart shows through in your words. Thank you for sharing. I have a neighbor/friend going through this today and I feel helpless. What is the best thing a friend did for you as you went through treatments, Linda? All I know to do is take surprise flowers and fix meals on the more difficult days. Blessings to you and your sweet man ♥

  11. Oh gosh, it must be so hard to go from one bad diagnosis to another. You get over one thing and then there’s another. I can’t imagine it. It’s so important to find those little moments of humour though isn’t it.

    • I think that laughter is like a good medicine, and you know what Vanessa? It comes for free. LOL. Thank you for visiting.

  12. What a brave soul you are Linda. I am just glad that Rob was there for you and that you have your faith and humour. 😀 *big hugs*

  13. You have really been through some tough times with serious health scares, Linda. I’m so sorry. I have certainly walked alongside several friends who have survived breast cancer, and two others with ovarian cancer. The ovarian cancer diagnoses were very threatening, but they have done well, as have the friends with breast cancer. One young woman was even able to conceive post her treatments, and she’d been told she might have trouble. The treatments are so harsh, and I hear what you’re saying when you aren’t sure you’d recommend the Arimidex. It must have been so difficult. Your faith, family and friends have undoubtedly been real anchors. What a story! I’m sure you appreciate every day you feel well. We should all be a lot more grateful for good days! ox

    • Thank you Debra, medicines today are so far advanced, and I thank The Lord for giving people the knowledge and ability to put it to practice. I call the doctors and nurses that looked after me, God’s little helpers. I do appreciate everyday that I can still be with Rob and my family, it is such a bonus for me. I am so pleased for the lady who fell pregnant, what a miracle. Hugs from me to you.

  14. Thank you for sharing all of this, Linda. My mother is a three-time survivor of breast cancer. Your post helps enlighten people such as me as to what our loved ones went through, or are currently dealing with. I am grateful that my mother and you survived and are able to keep sharing your gifts with the world.
    Russ

  15. Linda your courage is inspirational.

  16. Linda, your post took me back to this past summer, but in a good way when I reflected back upon the gentle souls at the radiation center who took care of both Terry and me. Terry had a couple of women also going through radiation with breast cancer have a similar experience that you did. He said he felt rather guilty that he was not experiencing any side effects when a couple of the women were really struggling. As for the drug that was recommended to you, I believe one must do what resonates most with them when it comes to facing a medical issue. The very best of both you and Rob. Like Ingrid, I think it’s time for you two to get that motorhome and get on the road. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this Linda.

  17. My goodness….you two have certainly endured your fair share of challenges. Hopefully you’ll get that motorhome and be touring soon. Your deserve a fun-filled adventure 🙂

  18. Your sharing your amazing journey is making me want to share mine (not cancer but caregiving and Alzheimer’s). I wanted to smack that doctor who barged in on you while you were on the throne. What a twit!!!!

    • Thank you for reading my story, I think caregivers are wonderful people, and that Alzheimer’s is such a heartbreaking illness for the patients and the families.

  19. Your strength and positive attitude through all of this shows through. My sister is a breast cancer survivor. Next June will be her 5th year anniversary. Needless to say – I am very vigilant myself about breast checking and mammograms.

    • October this year, was my 5th anniversary. Checking yourself and going for mammograms, is the greatest gift that any woman can give to herself.

  20. Linda, you had your fair deal of journeys …. And I’m so happy that you listen and acted on your common sense. I have full understanding that Rob was afraid.
    My cancer had spread to the lymph nodes …. They found a sister tumor in one of the nodes that they removed – but the doctor is sure that they got everything out .. and so far so good, but so soon my body behave strangely I have a ability to create ghosts.
    Still operation and radio therapy is the best treatments for any cancer.
    Did you get any problems with lymphatic fluid in your arm after the operation ??? I have in both my legs, mostly in my right – but it has gone a lot better. Some women I have met know exactly how many lymph nodes that have been removed, I don’t want to know. *smile
    Thanks for sharing you story and I’m so thrilled that you know have been declared “healthy” – just fantastic.

    • Vivika I do have Lymphedema in my breast, luckily not in my arm. About three weeks into the radiation treatment, the Lymphedema became worse to the extent that my breast increased to three bra sizes bigger. I went to a women who specializes in lymphedema and it’s effects, she gave me massage exercises to perform that I did for two years, and my breast is only one size bigger, when it swells I do the massage exercise and it goes down quite quickly.
      Your problems must be difficult and I hope that you gain some relief.. As to the ghosts, don’t be to hard on you’re self, it is only human to feel that way. I am so happy that you are also clear of cancer. God bless you Vivika.

      • Linda, I’m not cleared yet …. another 2 years to go and even after that I will be worried, because I know people that have been clear for years and suddenly its back. I think as a cancer survivor the fear will always be there in back pocket. As my doctor said, if you have danced with the demon you don’t want to be asked for anymore dances … you had a full dance program. Linda, you’re an amazing woman.
        But it’s not anything I worry about everyday – life is far too short for that.
        I was to a meet last week and there I met other patients with the same problem as me … both men and women.
        They talked about massage too .. and the support we get is just fantastic. I wear support tights and I love them, but in the summer I wear them at night. My leg is slightly thicker, but not noticeable today. So it has worked for me.
        I’m glad that you have got help … I have seen women with the most massive arm after breast cancer operation. 3 times the size of breast – wow …

        patients with the same problem as me … both men and women.
        They talked about massage too .. and the support we get is just fantastic. I wear support tights and I love them, but in the summer I wear them at night. My leg is slightly thicker, but not noticeable today.

        • Vivika! I am so sorry that you still have the cancer. You are right though , life is to short to worry everyday. The way you travel and carry on with life, in my book that makes you my hero. I have a friend who wears that support on her arm, and she says that it helps her as well. My breast is now only one brazier cup size bigger than the other. I am so gratefull for that. I will keep you in my prayers Vivika.

          • Thank you so much, Linda for your support … I’m trying to live the life I always wanted as a pensioner, but the side effects stops me at times, but I can’t give up .. because that means the demon has won. *smile

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