Archive for the ‘Metastatic Disease’ Category
Written by medical professionals, this book offers answers to the most commonly asked questions in regard to Advanced and Metastatic Breast Cancer. Some topics covered are diagnosis, treatment, post treatment, quality of life, alternative medicine, targeted therapy and coping strategies. There are also patient perspectives throughout the book as well.
“Patients deserve to be empowered so that they can actively participate in decisions about their care and treatment.”
I would recomend this book for its informative and straight forward information on how to manage living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Authors: Lillie D. Shockney, RN, BS, MAS, & Gary R. Shapiro, MD
Reviewed by: Dawn
Being sick with cancer can bring someone to the darkest and most solitary of places. Fortunately, many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are able to survive, along with their triumphant stories. While these good news stories can bring hope to cancer patients, it can also at times cause them to feel very lonely when their own futures do not look quite so bright. That is why it is important for everyone’s stories to be heard, so that people in all situations can learn and relate to them. Nancy Pye was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 42. She has two children, a 17 year old daughter and a 14 year old son.
In 2007, Nancy found a lump in her breast. The doctor said it was not cancer, but she got a mammogram to be sure. The results from the mammogram came back as being normal. However, over time, the lump continued to grow, so Nancy returned for another checkup. The doctors told her not to worry, and she went through another mammogram. The results of the second mammogram came back showing that there was nothing there. The radiologist told Nancy to continue to wait and to come back again after six months.
This seemed ridiculous to Nancy; she knew something was wrong and felt that a biopsy was necessary, but the doctors were not willing to give her one without having evidence from the mammogram. Nancy was forced to call the surgeon herself and beg the secretary to give her an appointment, as biopsies are only allowed to be given with referral from a doctor. It was this biopsy that determined that Nancy in fact did have cancer in her breast. She had a mastectomy, and discovered that she had six tumours in her breast and several grossly malignant lymph nodes.
Nancy then went through bone scans and CAT scans to see if cancer had spread to other parts of her body. The doctors found one spot on her back, diagnosing it as degenerative disease and stating that her breast cancer was at stage two. Nancy began 6 rounds of chemo (FEC D) for 6 months, and then 15 days of radiation. She was told she was cancer free and that was that. A year later the cancer had spread in the spine, at the exact spot they told her it was “degenerative disease,” and to the left hip causing a great deal of pain. She had a bone scan which led to the discovery that she did have metastatic cancer at the initial diagnosis, and that chemotherapy was not the protocol. If your cancer is ER+ and PR+ and metastatic at initial diagnosis most oncologists will start you on Tamoxifen, and if that doesn’t work they use Femara. The FEC D chemo that Nancy took works mostly on Stage I -III cancer, as metastatic disease is basically a totally different disease in the way it is treated; basically FEC D is not used for metastastic disease at initial diagnosis.
Last summer, in 2011, the cancer had spread to her liver. Today, the cancer is in her bones and in her liver. Nancy has undergone eight different kinds of chemotherapy. In September, she made the decision to stop treatment because her liver was getting increasingly sorer, and the enzyme levels in her blood were sixteen times more than normal enzyme levels. Nancy says that the treatment made her feel awful, and that it was absolutely terrible. She was put on steroids, and coming off of these steroids would cause her to crash. During this time, she was unable to stop crying.
Prior to being diagnosed in 2007, Nancy had been getting regular breast checkups. She feels that as time goes by, it becomes harder to cope with living with cancer because there are no options left for her. Nancy’s experience has severely changed her view of the medical profession. She feels that doctors don’t truly care, and that they are “just pushing you through.” The most challenging part about living with cancer, she says, is being a mother. Her first thought when she was diagnosed was about her children, and what they will do without a mother.
There is an important message that Nancy would like the readers to know. She says that you cannot rely on a mammogram alone. She had to fight her way through the doctors, and they kept insisting that there was nothing there. She feels there is too much information out there that women will be fine if they get their mammograms. Nancy did everything she was supposed to do. The bottom line, she says, is that if you have a lump in your breast, you need to get a biopsy.
Author, Laura Aziz is a student at Dalhousie University majoring in English. She is originally from Montreal, Quebec.