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-   -   I just found out I have breast cancer (http://her2support.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=55851)

Cricket 09-16-2012 06:56 PM

I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I just found out I have breast cancer. I am er/pr neg but HER2 pos. I had a biopsy and a breast MRI. More cancer was found in right breast and maybe in left breast. Everything I have read about HER2 sounds very so bad and it is aggressive. I want to lower the risk of cancer recurring. I am thinking that the best option would be a double mastectomy. Has having a mastectomy helped anyone else?

evergreen 09-16-2012 08:13 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
You will be told what the research suggests is your best option. For me, with only one affected area, it was a lumpectomy and that's what I did. I did this because I tend to be an "evidence" person, not because I am vain about having breasts... I am 66, don't need them for babies, my husband didn't care, etc.
Some women in my situation would do a mastectomy, because they sleep better at night, even though the evidence suggests the chance of recurrence is the same - mastectomy, vs lumpectomy plus radiation.
If you have more than one area affected, and possibly second breast as well, they may even suggest mastectomy. Ask your surgeon to explain the research to you, and then do what makes you personally the most comfortable psychologically.
Just know that surgery either way is generally straightforward. Best of luck to you! The treatment herceptin, which you will have in either case, has, made a huge difference for women with Her2 breast cancer!

'lizbeth 09-17-2012 09:03 AM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I had a mastectomy on the right breast. Looking back I now wish I would have had a double mastectomy with implants for reconstruction. You can have skin sparing mastectomies and immediate reconstruction. I had a TRAM - major recovery period with complications.

I have symptoms of Pagets on the left nipple which stresses me out. My health care team is going on the theory it is something other than cancer.

I'm still dealing with reconstruction issues. If I had done the double mastectomy with the implants it would all be over and done with and I would be going on with life instead of dealing with stuff 5 years later.

Cricket 09-17-2012 04:49 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Thank you for your quick reply. I am still getting another biopsy because at my breast MRI they saw another mass in same breast. I am so scared. I sometimes feel I can't do this and other times I knew I can beat it. I am only 56 and have 2 granddaughters and I plan to see them get married. They are 2 1/2 years and 9 months old.

chrisy 09-17-2012 07:24 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
First, you CAN do it.

Second, I agree, you will be presented with the best options based on research and your situation.

Finally, Her2+ cancer is aggressive and not to be trifled with. But with targeted therapies like herceptin and others, a her2 diagnosis is actually considered a favorable prognosis.

Take care
Chris

'lizbeth 09-17-2012 08:34 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Cricket,

I had 3 lesions in the right breast - so a lumpectomy wasn't an option, only a mastectomy.

Breast cancer is scary stuff. But most women survive and live a long life after treatment. We are very lucky - as Chrisy mentioned with the treatment options available for the Her2 positive cancer. Reading on the internet can be alarming, as it is an aggressive cancer. However, it is a cancer that is very successfully treated in the majority of women. This is a great site to learn about other cancer survivor's experiences.

You will likely live to see your grandbabies grow up to beautiful young ladies. Treatment will be challenging, but you can do it!

Cricket 09-20-2012 05:14 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Thank you for the encouragement I have been getting. The more I think about it the more I feel that a double mastectomy would be the best option. I had a second biopsy which showed a second lesion. So the right side is a goner. So I might as well make it a matched set. Hey I can have reconstructive surgery and get cute teenage boobies with a possible tummy tuck to boot. Who could ask for more.

evergreen 09-20-2012 07:18 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I didn't have a mastectomy, so I can't speak from experience. However, if I have a recurrence, I would definitely then go for a double mastectomy no matter what, because I agree about the "matched set". Not very scientific, but....

NanaJoni 09-20-2012 08:00 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Cricket - my path was similar to yours (er-/pr-/HER2+++) and I elected to have a double mx with no reconstruction. You can see all that stuff in my signature. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time and after the surgery, my surgeon told me there was atypical ductal hyperplasia in my left breast (I had 2 tumors in the right) which would have meant that, most likely, I'd have been back doing all the chemo and treatments again in a few years. She said I "dodged a bullet". Some days I wish I'd gone ahead with recon but I was 62 at the time with a wonderful, caring husband who just wanted me to be around a long time. Now I've had a few complications (blood clots) that mean no elective surgery. Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself or having regrets, I look at my favorite picture of my kids, their spouses and my five grandchildren (ages 12, 9, 9, 7 and 5) and the doubts just seem to vaporize. I am almost 3 yrs out now and doing better than ever. You're facing a tough time, so trust yourself as you move forward. And keep coming here for support and info - these folks never let us down.

JillaryJill 09-21-2012 03:25 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
You can see from my signature....I elected for a double mastectomy. Right side had to be removed, left was my decision. I have dense breasts and did not want the worry of not trusting a mammogram result on the remaining breast. I am also 54 years old and the implant breast would have been so much higher than the remaining breast. Another reason I elected to have it removed. We have a lake house and I am in a bathing suit all summer. Had radiation, and then the implant surgery. Everything went fine and I have a great result. No regrets. And yes...there is so much hope with Her2. To quote my oncologist..."It's a new day" when she told me how successful the treatment for us Her2 gals has been. It's ok to be scared...but time will heal and you will do great!

Cricket 09-21-2012 04:54 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Is Herceptin difficult to tolerate? I have hypertension so I am worried about my heart. I don't have all the information about the cancer. I had a breast MRI with a biopsy. Boy was that an experience. This thursday I will have a consolation with the surgeon and plastic surgeon and decide what will happen next. I still think a double will be the best option for me.

JillaryJill 09-22-2012 05:45 AM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Herceptin is easy to tolerate. The beauty of Herceptin is that there are very few side effects if any for the majority of patients. My onc ordered a baseline Muga test for me. I am on blood pressure meds and cholesterol meds and was fine. Herceptin caused me to have a runny nose the whole time I was on it, but that was the only side effect I experienced.

LeahM 09-22-2012 10:03 AM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Hi Cricket,

I too chose to have a b/l mastectomy. I wanted the new "girls" to match and I was afraid that in the future I would have to deal with this all over again. At 39 I have had many mammo's and u/s for other breast issues. Turns out I made the right choice as pre-cancerous changes were found in my left breast. From experience I will tell you that if you go the "expander" route I found that getting them filled slowly (no more than 60ml at a time) decreased any pain associated with the filling. You have plenty of time to get them filled as you go thru treatments so no rush.

I haven't had any trouble with Herceptin other than a constantly runny nose. I had a baseline MUGA scan of my heart and get re-scanned every 3 months until I am done with the H. I do believe that having your heart monitered while on H is a standard of care.

Best wishes to you
Leah

Cricket 09-22-2012 06:51 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I read that with mastectomies that there a drain. Is this easy enough to take care of? I am also concerned with my arm swelling from lymph nodes being removed. Has anyone had this experience and did it get better? Also, is there a lot of numbness after surgery? I will have movement in my arms or will be a problem?

Cricket 09-22-2012 07:10 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I have noticed that some of the post show her2+++ . Are there different degrees of her2+?

evergreen 09-22-2012 08:12 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
I had a drain for lumpectomy and it was no big deal. Nurses checked and cleaned it regularly, and it comes out when drainage slows.
Re lymphedema, I had lymph nodes out, and it is a risk. I bought a book that helps me prevent it happening...Lymphedema, by J Burt and G White, pub. 2005. I'm sure there are many books around. Some basic principles of do's and do nots, help with prevention. I also go for lymphatic massages about every other month, to a registered massage therapist recommended by my oncologist. She measured my arm in regular intervals, as a baseline should I develop any problems. A lot of these things sound scarier when you are trying to learn all this stuff. So far I have been OK.
Best of luck, and try to take it a day at a time!

'lizbeth 09-22-2012 08:16 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Hello Cricket,

The drain is easy to use. I was a bit squeamish about it. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before handling drains. I had my husband help and we didn't think about that. I ended up with a nasty infection.

I had 15 nodes taken out. I had lymphadema in the trunk and breast area, but it was mild. Every woman is different. I ended up with Axillary Web Syndrome where the lymph vessels back up with fluid. It popped out in the crook of my elbow. The lymphadema specialist showed me a technique called feathering to move the lymph. It got better, I rarely have a problem.

I did have numbness. I hardly notice it 4 1/2 years later.

Nerve damage is always a risk, but rare. You shouldn't have problems moving your arms.

There are different amounts of overexpression on Her2. Herceptin was approved for the her2+++ patient. The only targeted treatment I'm familiar with for women with a lower expression of her2 is a breast cancer vaccine trial combined with Herceptin.

You have great questions. Right them down and ask your doctors - they will give you the most accurate information.

chekmark 09-23-2012 04:27 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Cricket,
I did not have a double but I had one side done and yes there was a drain. There are also drains if you have reconstruction so by having reconstruction at the same time you can avoid the drains the second time. I had my reconstruction a year later. I found the drains annoying more than anything. I look pretty good and even with just the one side, my surgeon added a small implant in the other side for symmetry. It is a personal decision and one that you have to deal with forever so make sure you think it thru and are comfortable with your decision. I had 3 lymph nodes removed and have not gotten lymphedema but did have some slight swelling after mast. I am very active and use my arm alot. You will be advised to not use your arms at first untils drains are removed and you're healed. It helps to do some slight arm exercises when allowed to keep your shoulder from locking up. I would do the wall crawl several times a day and I am fine. My MRI also showed a second mass hidden behind the cancer mass but it was benign so try not to think the worst cuz it may be nothing. When we did the mast I had no cancer found.Just my input. Its a scary thing to hear that you have cancer but it gets easier. Herceptin was very tolerable. I really had no side effects to complain about except for the runny nose, my tear ducts clogged (I think that was from the taxotere) and my skin would tingle if I got over heated while in the sun.That was it. Good luck to you. Please keep us posted. Darlene

Cricket 09-23-2012 05:48 PM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Well this Thursday is consolation and I don't know if they will have an operation date that dat or not. I feel I am in good hands at the hospital I will be at. Charleston has a good cancer center. I have a lot of support from the people I work with.

teresamd0906 09-25-2012 10:31 AM

Re: I just found out I have breast cancer
 
Hi Cricket - I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast Cancer in 2011 after the radiologist miraculously found a small tumor in my left breast. I am PR/ER - and HER2+ like you. I chose a double mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction since my breasts had dense tissue and I didn't want to worry about the cancer popping up on the other side and me not being as lucky the next time with finding it early. I must say I pretty much breezed thru it all - chemo and surgery. My oncol started me on chemo first so she could be sure that the cocktail was killing off the cancer cells. When I went for surgery 6 mos later the radiologist couldn't even find evidence of cancer being there! Great medicine and a Great God! I took 1 yr of Herceptin - my oncol said they want to make sure there aren't any micromets floating around my body somewhere that could park in another part of my body. The Herceptin didn't affect me at all - I have high BP and take meds for it. I also have high Cholestorol and take meds for that but the Herceptin didn't affect either. Your dr will monitor you thru a cardiologist. You will do fine! I think having 2 C-Sections was harder than this! Good luck to you and kiss those grandbabies!


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