I learned about my cancer on June 17th, 2021. Since that I have not stopped visiting the hospital I usually do maintenance check-ins at, and I have started to know this hospital much more than I ever wanted, as well as numerous specialists and tests/exams. One part of cancer is knowing what type of cancer you have and what to do about it. And, of course, what are your chances of fighting this war. Yes, it is a war. Not a war about body invaders but a war with your own good cells deciding to act out and make you seriously sick to the point of endangering your life. So, my fight is with my own body – a type of immune cells. I have invasive lobular carcinoma with pleomorphic features, grade 2, HER2 positive. Lymph nodes in my right arm pit are infected so I believe I have a stage III cancer, but my doctor needs to confirm.
How did we get to that diagnostic? We put the puzzle pieces together. We (me and all the doctors and technicians and fancy medical equipment and small procedures that cut through my skin) did the following tests in addition to meetings: 2-3 mammograms or more, biopsies in right breast and various lymph nodes, blood count tests, 2 MRI, 2 CT-scans, Bone density evaluation, echocardiogram, and vital signs. No, it was not fun. But it had to be done so I did it and will still do it when it’s needed.
I got a scare during the CT-scans which found a growth on my spleen, but it ended up being just a benign cyst (to my understanding). So, I ONLY have a stage 3 breast cancer (I cannot believe what one can get happy with when you're diagnosed with breast cancer!). The first part of my treatment: 20 weeks of toxic chemicals incorporated into my body to kill my malfunctioning cells: 8 weeks of chemotherapy, then 12 weeks of immunotherapy. Chemotherapy started on July 9, 2021. I am actually very happy it started. One step towards victory!
Of course, all these tests take time and require being out of work. So now anxiety runs high. How am I going to pay for this? What does it mean for my work? Can I work? What about health insurance? Do I have enough savings to pay for the deductible and other health and non-health expenses? What help can I get? Financial? Health? Transportation? Mental and Physical well-being? Any help?
... More puzzle pieces to put together ...
After figuring out all of these non-medical issues (still working on some), I am now on paid medical leave with health insurance. That's a relief!
I still feel that I could sometimes benefit from a full-time secretary to figure out things but it's getting better right now. It's only the first round of administrative formalities I'll probably have to go through. Not looking forward for part 2.
I also found some support groups on Facebook and getting more support through my hospital groups and social workers.
LASTLY BUT NOT LEAST
All my family, friends, boyfriend, colleagues, neighbors, and even my work and hospital have been very supportive. I am feeling appreciated and loved. I feel very lucky and blessed to have such people around me.