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Old 01-04-2013, 04:00 PM   #1
teachwatch
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Just diagnosed teacher

Will chemo brain changed how I teach my classes. I want to know before I began treatment. How do I explain to my students what's going on w/me.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:23 PM   #2
karen z
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hi. What age do you teach? What is your treatment plan going to be (if you already know)?
Sorry to hear about your diagnosis but you are among friends and a strong support system.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:23 PM   #3
NanaJoni
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Chemo brain may not be a side effect for you at all - it's one of those things that you can't predict. For me, I've had some short term memory issues but very mild and no impact on my job before I retired. Kids can be remarkable in their understanding of what's going on - and there are lots of techniques and helpful things you can do to minimize the impact. You may just want to take a "wait and see" approach and work it out as it comes. Blessings as you move forward.
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Joni -64 yrs old -
3/01/10: found lump in rt.breast
3/12/10: mammogram/ultrasnd/biopsy-invasive bc & DCIS; 2 tumors (2cm er-/pr-/HER2-& 1.8 cm er-/pr-/HER2+); grade 3;poorly differentiated
3/24/10:sent.node biopsy clear
3/31/10:bi-lateral mx.;atypical ductal hyperplasia-lft side
4/21/10:wound revision-infection/scarring 4/28/10:seromas both sides
5/21/10:port installed,TCH chemo (6 x 3 wks); Herc,-1yr; 33 rad tx after chemo
07/2010: port not working-2nd port didnt'work;3rd port opposite side.
07/2010: 2 weeks after 3rd port surgery, threw 3 pulm. emboli-IVC filter installed; warfarin
08/2010: hospitalizations w/3 of chemos; decision to stop after 4th-on to radiation in Oct 2010;Herc cont.
12/03/2010 - finished 33 rads Hooray!! cont. Herc. every 3 wks
4/2011 - pneumonia ??? Nope-radiation pneumonitis. No more Herc.
5/2011 - NED!!! port out.
8/2011 - clean PET & CT scans.Still NED
7/2012 - Still NED/very blessed.
2/2013 - 6 mos checkup-all clear. CA2729 down frm 13 to 11.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:21 AM   #4
teachwatch
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hi,

Thanks for replying. I really don't know who to talk to. There's a teacher in the room next to mine who's a survivor but she went through some type of natural treatment that is not an option for me because it was done out of state and is quite costly. Her husband helped her pay for it; I'm a single female w/only my income to depend on.

Anyway my treatment hasn't yet been determined. Tests are still being run to make sure it hasn't spread anywhere else. I need all the info that I can get. I'm feeling pretty alone.
I normally teach high school aged students, however I'm currently teaching middle school.

Last edited by teachwatch; 01-05-2013 at 09:24 AM.. Reason: forgot to answer question
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:38 AM   #5
karen z
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

I agree that you need to take a wait and see approach. The students you are teaching are not little ones and they likely all know someone (from their friends or parents) who have gone through treatment for cancer. And it sounds like you are waiting on more tests to find out what the treatment plan will be. What do you know from your pathology report? This might include HER2 status (which I assume is positive or you might not be posting here), estrogen status, progesterone status (each will be either positive or negative), size of tumor, grade of tumor, etc. Make sure that you know as much about your situation as you can at each "stage" of the tests, procedures. Do you have a family member or friend or colleague who can visit doctors with you in order to help take notes? If not, bring a tape recorder so you can replay what each doctor says as you may be (I was) too nervous to try and listen and take notes. Also, with regard to treatment I would get at least two opinions- just to be more comfortable before starting the process. If you teach you should have insurance. Check with your insurance but most plans cover second opinions (or beyond). Stay in touch and report back what you know when you know it. Best wishes and take things one day at a time (I know this is hard but it is all you can do right now so try hard).
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:20 AM   #6
SarahFoodforBC
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Chemo brain can affect verbal processing, which means potentially not being able to think of words, wrong spelling and other verbal glitches. I actually managed to misspell my son's name on an important application. I would also find myself sitting at the computer unable to understand what simple words like "through" meant.

Chemo brain can also affect ability to multitask. I would suggest being very organized - have detailed written lesson plans at hand, for example. Unless you have a very bad case, you should be able manage to do your job without too many noticeable incidents.

If you would like more information on chemo brain, why it happens, how long it lasts (does it lead to dementia later?), you can Google the following article, "Latest research on chemo brain after breast cancer treatment'

After seven years, I'm about 80%-90% back to normal and I think I probably had a moderately severe case.

Wishing you all the best,

Sarah
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Old 01-05-2013, 10:49 AM   #7
teachwatch
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

I am told that a change of diet to more fruits/vegetables or juicing is beneficial to recovery. Do you know about this?
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:17 AM   #8
NanaJoni
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Teach - diet is especially important during chemo, especially keeping up your calories and keeping hydrated. But you shouldn't try anything without first checking with your drs. Chemo drugs can be affected by many things so be sure to ask one of the chemo nurses. For me, I couldn't tolerate the smell of meat cooking so my husband cooked on the grill most of the time and the taste of many of my favorite foods became terrible. I mostly could eat things that were cold and sweet so lots of sherbert was a staple for me. I also have a recipe for a high calorie shake that a dietitian gave me. Fruits and fruit juices seemed to aggravate my already sensitive gut and diarrhea became a problem. I ended up drinking Ensure to help keep up caloric intake and still lost 50 lbs (next time I'll do Weight Watchers instead of chemo to lose weight). This is all something that I dealt with and you may never have any of these issues. I only tell you these things as my personal story - just take it a day at a time and deal with what happens as it happens and ALWAYS clear things with your drs and nurses.
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Joni -64 yrs old -
3/01/10: found lump in rt.breast
3/12/10: mammogram/ultrasnd/biopsy-invasive bc & DCIS; 2 tumors (2cm er-/pr-/HER2-& 1.8 cm er-/pr-/HER2+); grade 3;poorly differentiated
3/24/10:sent.node biopsy clear
3/31/10:bi-lateral mx.;atypical ductal hyperplasia-lft side
4/21/10:wound revision-infection/scarring 4/28/10:seromas both sides
5/21/10:port installed,TCH chemo (6 x 3 wks); Herc,-1yr; 33 rad tx after chemo
07/2010: port not working-2nd port didnt'work;3rd port opposite side.
07/2010: 2 weeks after 3rd port surgery, threw 3 pulm. emboli-IVC filter installed; warfarin
08/2010: hospitalizations w/3 of chemos; decision to stop after 4th-on to radiation in Oct 2010;Herc cont.
12/03/2010 - finished 33 rads Hooray!! cont. Herc. every 3 wks
4/2011 - pneumonia ??? Nope-radiation pneumonitis. No more Herc.
5/2011 - NED!!! port out.
8/2011 - clean PET & CT scans.Still NED
7/2012 - Still NED/very blessed.
2/2013 - 6 mos checkup-all clear. CA2729 down frm 13 to 11.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:30 AM   #9
teachwatch
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

You are a wealth of info. Please don't mind if I talk to you more. Thank you and God Bless.
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:39 AM   #10
NanaJoni
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Anytime....and you'll get more good info from lots of others here.
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Joni -64 yrs old -
3/01/10: found lump in rt.breast
3/12/10: mammogram/ultrasnd/biopsy-invasive bc & DCIS; 2 tumors (2cm er-/pr-/HER2-& 1.8 cm er-/pr-/HER2+); grade 3;poorly differentiated
3/24/10:sent.node biopsy clear
3/31/10:bi-lateral mx.;atypical ductal hyperplasia-lft side
4/21/10:wound revision-infection/scarring 4/28/10:seromas both sides
5/21/10:port installed,TCH chemo (6 x 3 wks); Herc,-1yr; 33 rad tx after chemo
07/2010: port not working-2nd port didnt'work;3rd port opposite side.
07/2010: 2 weeks after 3rd port surgery, threw 3 pulm. emboli-IVC filter installed; warfarin
08/2010: hospitalizations w/3 of chemos; decision to stop after 4th-on to radiation in Oct 2010;Herc cont.
12/03/2010 - finished 33 rads Hooray!! cont. Herc. every 3 wks
4/2011 - pneumonia ??? Nope-radiation pneumonitis. No more Herc.
5/2011 - NED!!! port out.
8/2011 - clean PET & CT scans.Still NED
7/2012 - Still NED/very blessed.
2/2013 - 6 mos checkup-all clear. CA2729 down frm 13 to 11.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:31 PM   #11
SarahFoodforBC
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

There are some foods that have been specifically found to protect against HER2 positive breast cancer. One of the most well studied is extra-virgin olive oil. Olive oil also appears to enhance the effectiveness of Herceptin, which you may receive as part of your treatment. It's also ok to consume during chemotherapy. Please Google the following for lists of the foods (as well as links to the academic studies that describe the findings in detail):

"What should HER2/neu breast cancer patients and survivors eat?"

"What should breast cancer patients and survivors eat during Herceptin treatment?"

There are also articles on the site concerning what to eat during chemotherapy, depending on type.

Sarah
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:44 PM   #12
Mel3
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

The is a good website for food info and it is research based.

Foodforbreastcancer.org

I lost some words or thoughts quickly, but your students may get a kick out of it and help you out. Just stay positive and have a sense of humor while you go through treatment. We'll all be here to support you.
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ER- PR+ Her2+++, Stage 3C
A/C x 4
Mastectomy 8/18 nodes+
Taxol/Herceptin x 4
35 rads
Continue Herceptin for 1 year
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:56 PM   #13
StephN
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hello Teach -
We have some other teachers here (Schoolteacher, NEDDenise, and others), who seem to manage just fine.

Very often the fatigue from treatment is more of a problem than actual "chemobrain" (which one MAY have at the same time).

At this point it is best to make some changes in your diet (if you eat too many fast and processed foods). Also, clean up any little projects that are hanging about and will bother you. Get your wardrobe in order, as you will most likely have a port and need tops that open in the front.

You will need extra rest, so, if you have a hubby and kids, have a chat with them about helping out and letting you off the hook as to some of your normal household work.

If you need to keep working, you should have some sick leave for the days you feel that you are not up to going in. If you take hard chemos, a pattern will develop of better and worse days.

Not knowing your details yet, this is some general advice that applies to most of us BC patients.

P.S. NanaJoni mentions many foods not tasting good or not tolerating certain smells. Most of us will have mouth sores from chemo, and this often determines what we can tolerate eating. Some days I only wanted organic chicken broth with rice and mushrooms. Bananas felt OK, but tasted strange. Hard boiled eggs were important to keep protein up.
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"When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest." H.D. Thoreau
Live in the moment.

MY STORY SO FAR ~~~~
Found suspicious lump 9/2000
Lumpectomy, then node dissection and port placement
Stage IIB, 8 pos nodes of 18, Grade 3, ER & PR -
Adriamycin 12 weekly, taxotere 4 rounds
36 rads - very little burning
3 mos after rads liver full of tumors, Stage IV Jan 2002, one spot on sternum
Weekly Taxol, Navelbine, Herceptin for 27 rounds to NED!
2003 & 2004 no active disease - 3 weekly Herceptin + Zometa
Jan 2005 two mets to brain - Gamma Knife on Jan 18
All clear until treated cerebellum spot showing activity on Jan 2006 brain MRI & brain PET
Brain surgery on Feb 9, 2006 - no cancer, 100% radiation necrosis - tumor was still dying
Continue as NED while on Herceptin & quarterly Zometa
Fall-2006 - off Zometa - watching one small brain spot (scar?)
2007 - spot/scar in brain stable - finished anticoagulation therapy for clot along my port-a-catheter - 3 angioplasties to unblock vena cava
2008 - Brain and body still NED! Port removed and scans in Dec.
Dec 2008 - stop Herceptin - Vaccine Trial at U of W begun in Oct. of 2011
STILL NED everywhere in Feb 2014 - on wing & prayer
7/14 - Started twice yearly Zometa for my bones
Jan. 2015 checkup still shows NED
2015 Neuropathy in feet - otherwise all OK - still NED.
Same news for 2016 and all of 2017.
Nov of 2017 - had small skin cancer removed from my face. Will have Zometa end of Jan. 2018.

Last edited by StephN; 01-05-2013 at 02:01 PM..
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:02 PM   #14
Joanne S
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hello Teachwatch, All of the advice given before me for you is excellent---I can't add any more ---other than to say I, too, am sorry to hear of your diagnosis but you're in a very good place here, We know how your feel and we care. Hugs, Joanne
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Aug06...Dx Age 50, IDC Left Breast, 6+/16 lymph nodes, Stg 3, ER+/PR+/HER2+
Sep06-Jan07...Mediport. Chemo: AC x 4, T x 4
Dec06-Nov07...Herceptin
Feb12,2007...Surg MRM Left & SM Right, reconstruct w/expanders
Mar07-Jun07...Saline Exp
Jun07...Start Tamoxifen
Jun07-Aug07...Rad x 25
Jun07-Oct07...Persistent fevers-unknown origin
Jun07-Nov07...PT for Severe PMPS & Capsular Contracture
Nov07...Surg Capsulectomy, Gel Implants, PMPS pain gone instantly.
Feb08...NED 1st CANCERVERSARY!!!!!
Feb08...2 months post surgery Caps Cont again :(
Mar08...Stop Tamoxifen. Start Arimidex.
Apr08...Sudden high fever, Hosp ICU 10 days, staph infect, emerg surg, implants removed. Outpt IVantibiotics Daily x 6 weeks
Feb11...NED 5th CANCERVERSARY!!!!!
Feb12...NED 6th CANCERVERSARY!!!!!
Aug12...Spotting. Surg=D&C
Sep12...STAGE IV = RARE BC METS TO UTERUS ILC ER+/PR+/HER2-Negative) (Different BC than originally diagnosed = IDC ER+/PR+/HER2+).
Sep12...Stop Arimidex. Start Afinitor & Aromasin.
Jan13...MRI = no progression no reduction
Apr13...Progression. Stop Afinitor & Aromasin.
Apr13...Start Chemo: Taxol & Carboplatin.
Nov13...Scans & Pelvic 95+% Reduction. Nueropathy>Stop chemo start Fareston.
Jan14...PET scan = no progression stable.
May14...Pelvic > Bleeding & cramps. TMs up.
May14...PET scan = uterine progression :(
May14...Stop Fareston. Start Chemo: Xeloda.



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Old 01-06-2013, 03:46 PM   #15
norkdo
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hi! No need to worry.
I found that the whole journey is 18 months inc reconstruction (except mine failed so i will try again six months from now.). The month it all finished (the infection lasted two months before removal of infected implant) I bounced back. no cancer in body? no infection from implant? my brain totally back in shape and energy has returned.
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fall 2008: mammo of rt breast worrisome so am asked to redo mammo and have ultrasound of rt breast.I delay it til january 2009 and the results are "no cancer in rt breast. phew."
found plum sized lump in right breast the day before my dad died: April 17th 2011. saw it in mirror, while i was wearing a top, examining my figure after losing 10 lbs on dr. bernstein diet.
diagnosed may 10 2011

mast/lymphectomy: june 7 2011, 5/20 cancerous nodes. stage 3a before radiation oncologist during our first mtg on july 15th says he found cancer on the lymph node of my breast bone. Now stage 3b.
her2+++, EN-, PN-. Rt brst tumors:3 at onset, 4.5 cm was the big one
chemos: 3fec's followed by 3 taxotere, total of 18 wks chemo. sept: halfway thru chemo the mastectomy scar decides to open and ooze pus. (not healed before chemo) eventually with canasten powder sent by friend in ny (illegal in canada) it heals.
radiations:although scheduled to begin 25 january 2012, I am so terrified by it (rads cause other cancers) I don't start til february, miss a bunch, reschedule them all and finally finish 35 rads mid april. reason for 7 extra atop the 28 scheduled is that when i first met my rads oncologist he said he saw a tumor on the lymph node of my breastbone. extra 7 are special kind of beam used for that lymphnode. rads onc tells me nobody ever took so long to do rads so he cannot speak for effectiveness. trials had been done only on consecutive days so......we'll see.....
10 mos of herceptin started 6 wks into chemo. canadian onc says 10 mos is just as effective as the full yr recommended by dr. slamon......so we'll see..completed july 2012.
Sept 18 2012: reconstruction and 3 drains. fails. i wear antibiotic pouch on my job for two months and have 60 consecutive days visiting a nursing centre where they apply burn victims' silver paper and clean the oozing infection daily. silicone leaks out daily. plastic surgeon in caribbean. emergency dept wont remove "his" work. He finally appears and orders me in into an emergency removal of implant. I make him promise no drains and I get my way. No infection as a result. Chest looks like a map of Brazil. Had a perfectly good left breast on Sept 17th but surgeon wanted to "save another woman an operation" ? so he had crashed two operations together on my left breast, foregoing the intermediary operation where you install an expander. the first surgeon a year earlier had flat out refused to waste five hours on his feet taking both boobs. flat out refusal. between the canadian health system saving money and both these asses, I got screwed. who knows when i can next get enough time off work (i work for myself and have no substitute when my husband is on contract) to get boobs again. arrrgh.


I have a blog where I document this trip and vent.
www.nora'scancerblog.blogspot.com . I stopped the blog before radiation. I think the steroids made me more angry and depressed and i just hated reading it anymore
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Old 01-06-2013, 10:54 PM   #16
starwishn2
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

Hi Teach~ So sorry that you are now part of our group but this is a great place to be. I have found so much helpful information on this site. I just finished my TCH cocktail in December and am now on Herceptin with Arimidex. The chemo brain for me has mostly been short term memory loss - like "why did I walk into this room". I had that anyway, prior to chemo, but it hits me more often now. I haven't had much problems at work and I work with a lot of people dealing with contracts and financial information. That being said, I have learned that chemo seems to affect everyone differently. I certainly wish you the best and my prayers are with you during this tough time.

Jeri
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Diagnosed 16Dec1993 ITP (auto immune disease - low platelets)
Splenectomy 11Nov2009
Rituxen May2011
ITP playing nice
Diagnosed 3Jul2012 BC

2 cm - Grade 2 - Stage IIB
HER2+++

ER+/PR+
bilateral mastectomy 20Jul2012
Metastasized cancer found 1 lymph node
expanders placed during surgery
TCH chemo "cocktail" started 24Aug2012
every 3 weeks - 6 treatments
Herceptin - 18 treatments
LAST treatment Taxotere & Carboplatin 7Dec2012 -yay!
Continue with Herceptin 26Dec2012

Started Arimidex 01Jan2013 (for 5 years)
Surgery to remove expanders/reconstruction 18Jan2013
Infection in left breast from reconstruction/infection in most nails - SO many meds! 22Feb2013
Left implant not playing nice.... might need to remove and try again - blah! 04Apr2013
3Jul2013 - one year since diagnosis - booo cancer!

15Aug2013 LAST chemo infusion!! YIPPPEEE!!!
13Sep2013 2nd reconstructive surgery.. the FOOBs are looking good!



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Old 01-13-2013, 07:23 PM   #17
Jackie07
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

You might want to schedule your chemo infusion on Thursday afternoons. When I was teaching in 2007, I was able to work Friday without much problem. Then Saturday and Sunday I would be sleeping most of the time. By Monday morning, I'd be OK to go back to work. There are some very good anti-emetic medicine these days. Tell your nurse practioner about your work schedule and she should be able to advise you.
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:37 PM   #18
Kkmom
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Talking Re: just diagnosed teacher

Hello All - Good to be among teachers. I am a retired middle school teacher and librarian. I am also newly diagnosed. Routine mammo on December 14th and lumpectomy on December 27th. This past Thursday, I went to oncologist and will be starting chemo soon.
I am estrogen +, progesterone + and Her2 + Neu.
My tumor was 2.00 cm, stage II

Does anybody know what it means on the pathology report it says:
Her 2+/ Neu Ki-67 - proliferation rate is 18%. I do not understand the proliferation part.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:25 PM   #19
IrvineFriend
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Re: Just diagnosed teacher

I also scheduled my chemo for Thursday's so I can work on Friday and stay in PJ's for the entire weekend if need be.

Also talked to the ACS and she recommended using plastic silverware as the regular kind keep that metalic taste thing going. There have been a couple recent posts on here about what to expect and how to prepare for it and I would recommend reviewing those. Lots of good suggestions.
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Julie
Live in Orange County, CA

Diagnosed with DCIS Oct. 2012

Bilateral Dec. 19, 2012
IDC, ER/PR-, Her2+++, Grade 3
Stage IIIa
15.6 cm
4/14 nodes + macrometastases
First thing each morning, I try on my bathing suit. Then, nothing worse can happen the rest of the day.
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