Shellie’s journey with breast cancer

—First in a series


CRESCO - Dec. 28th, 2016 I had a doctor appointment with my regular doctor. I had felt a lump on my left breast while doing a self check. My doctor thought it was just a cyst and scheduled a mammogram for Jan. 4, 2017. 
At that  mammogram the radiologist read the results that day. He told me that it looked like cancer cells. Very abnormal. 
I was sent to Mayo Breast Clinic on Jan. 10, 2017. I met with my breast doctor that day, and she went over the mammogram with us in more detail. She was not happy with the results and scheduled me for a different one later that day, with an ultrasound also. 
They were able to see it more clear here. I had a six millimeter by five millimeter lump. They also found five lymph nodes that looked abnormal. 
From there we scheduled a biopsy that was done on Jan. 16, 2017. They took samples from the lump, as well as five lymph nodes. I was told the results would be back in a couple days. They called Jan. 18, 2017 with the results. Those were the longest days I think I have ever had. I only slept about four hours the whole three days. 
It was official. I had Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) Stage 3A positive lymph nodes. I cried for about four hours that day. When I told my husband that I had the results, we both cried. 
We have two biological kids, a 16-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy, and my niece lives with us. She is also 16. The day we told the kids was so hard. 
When most people hear the word cancer, they automatically think of death. Same for kids. 
My kids were scared. I was scared. 
I had so many questions running through my head. Why me? What did I do to get cancer? Will I be ok? Will my kids be ok? How about my daughter? Should she be more worried?
The weather was just as horrible going up to Rochester as we felt, on the 16th. It sleeted all day. It took us three-and-one-half hours to get home in what is normally a one hour and 10 minute drive.
I was scheduled to meet with my Care Team on Jan. 25, 2017. Of course this day we had a snow storm. The drive up was horrible.
My Care Team consists of my breast doctor, oncologist, radiologist, surgeon and reconstructive surgeon. That day we set up my treatment options. 
I am what they call “Triple Positive.” Everybody has estrogen, progesterone and HER2 receptors. When you are triple positive, you have too many of these receptors. I am 90 percent ER, 90 percent PR and 100 percent HER2. 
I was told that being triple positive means every hormone in my body was grabbing all the cancer that was going by it and spreading faster than most. 
Since I am triple positive, I need a targeted therapy for treatment. They give you so much information that first day. I took so many notes so I could go over everything at home on my own. 
On that day they set up my first Chemo treatment. I would start Feb. 6, 2017.
This was happening so fast I am not sure I actually took it all in until that day. Wow! I have cancer! That day was scary for me. 
What will happen to my body? I had so many questions that first day. I shook bad when I tried to write anything down. Thankfully my husband was there the whole time to help me. He has been so strong for me. I am a strong person but you still need someone.
That is also the day I found out I would lose my hair. That has been so hard for me. I know that it will grow back when I am done, but it’s still very hard.
I am on what is called a targeted therapy with chemo. I will have herceptin, prejeta and a chemo drug called Taxol.
The first day was horrible. I got sick and had a horrible reaction to the chemo. Later that night I was feeling okay, but very tired.
Some of the side effects that I have had are nausea, headache, bloody nose, very dry skin, cold hands, no taste, and my tongue feels like it is constantly burnt. I experienced these the first week.
I had my second treatment on Feb. 13. This week was just Taxol. It went better. I had the same side effects only now I also had a rash on my face. 
The third treatment on Feb. 20 was Taxol only. All the same side effects, and my hair was coming out in large amounts.
I had picked out a wig from the Hope and Healing Boutique at the Mayo Clinic. The ladies there are so nice. They help you to find one that matches your own hair. The one I have looks so natural on me most do not know I am wearing one.
My fourth treatment on Feb. 27 was all three again. This time was okay. I did not get as sick as I did the first time. Thankfully. Same side effects. No new ones. 
I have a lot of hair, and it was coming out so much that I could not even comb my hair. I called my sister to come down with her clippers, and we buzzed my hair. It was so much easier to see it come out when it is not long. 
I just cried when she was done. My long hair was gone. I still cry when I look at myself in the mirror some days.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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