Gayle, I truly am at a loss for words with the experience of the treatments you’ve had to endure. My experience couldn’t be more different but I realize it’s not a fair comparison as my surgery was just a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy (4 nodes removed). My diagnosis was stage 1 ductal carcinoma in situation, grade 2 in terms of the spreading of the tumour, which is mid range. My surgery was on Apr. 15 and I feel completely recovered and am thrilled with the results of my surgery. Breast size and shape remains the same ( certainly not the case in all cases), and there was no long lasting nerve damage. There’s no burning sensation or pins and needles anymore. That was only for about 10 days. All procedures were explained fully in advance and the staff couldn’t have been kinder or more competent. I am completely back to normal and able to resume all my usual activities. The only things I’m not doing is my 3 times a week jogging x5km and lifting weights. My medical oncologist advised against it. I’m having a reprieve right now as my tumour was sent to a lab in California to undergo onco-type DX-21 genes analysis to determine my individual risk score for reoccurrence. If the results are not favourable, I’ll require 4 to 5 months of chemotherapy, followed by 3 weeks of daily radiation. I am waiting right now because you must have the chemotherapy first, but in the meantime, I’ve been on a cooking, baking, stockpiling and cleaning frenzy as that will make life much easier later on.
But I’m certainly taking time for myself and do things I love every day! My energy levels are back to normal and at the minimum I do a 5km walk every day, often with my retired dh. It’s very safe and easy to be distanced here, but I still don’t take chances and wear a cloth mask with a coffee filter inside . I save my N95 filters for hospital or pharmacy visits. I’m using pickup service for groceries.
I have to complete “your symptoms matter “ survey prior to every doctor appointment. There’s a scale to measure pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, depression, anxiety, well being and activities and function.
I have a medical oncologist and a radiation oncologist. My cancer centre is all inclusive and has a specialty pharmacy and all types of supportive care including dietician, social work and psychology,physiotherapist, occupational therapy, psychiatry, speech language pathology, spiritual care, drug and breast care navigators, a BLISS (balancing life, intimacy, sexuality and survivorship)Clinic, Look Good, Feel Better clinic ( cosmetic hygiene, skin care, sun care, hair alterations- you receive complimentary kit of cosmetics and skin care products), wig consultant, lymphderma clinic, palliative pain and symptom clinic, smoking cessation, and a 10 week wellness and exercise program. In addition all kinds of online resources and assistance managing personal finances if you take time off work and your unemployment benefits run out.
So my dear American friends, please do not fear universal health care. I can’t think of another country where I would rather receive cancer treatment. My surgery was free and no expenses out of pocket except for the pain prescription following surgery ( 20%), since DH’s extended health care covers it so about $15 including dispensing fees. The four in house nurse visits were completely covered, as well as all the above listed services.
Gayle you have every right to defer the surgery and I think it would be to your benefit. In fac5, our cancer centre has a policy to follow if that is the patient’s wish. You will still be treated with the utmost respect and dignity.
I know my situation is very different than yours and treatment won’t be as aggressive due to my age(64 in less than 2 weeks). But I strongly feel you shouldn’t have to endure all those adverse side effects. I was told that if my chemotherapy was too hard on my body, it is the hospital pharmacologist’s role to develop a special cocktail that my body can tolerate better. And nobody in the online community I have spoken to undergoing similar treatment has had your situation.
Gayle I just want to give you a hug so badly,