I'm so much more than my cancer diagnosis and I know that but I think it's important to share how I got here because I truly believe that the only reason I got this diagnosis and not something worse was because I listened to my body. I remember waking up and hearing that the cancer was so much worse than anyone thought and I was so angry that my body did this to me. But I've slowly realized that my body gave me all the signs I needed to get this taken care of. My body has never served me wrong. I've run two marathons, two half marathons and countless other races. I've carried and given birth to three magical babies. And my body helped me identify cancer before it was too late.
My journey started in February or March of the last year. I started feeling a little pain in my left breast. I decided to wait and just bring it up at my physical in April. My doctor (amazing woman) made sure that I go to the breast center to have a mammogram and ultrasound right away. It felt all along that I almost needed to pump. Which was odd since I stopped nursing Sophie 6 months prior to this. When I tried to hand express I noticed it was slightly blood tinged. PANIC. At the breast center they told me it looked mostly like dense tissue but more inflamed. They decided to treat me for mastitis. After my 10 day course of antibiotics, I broke out in awful hives. Awful. I was given prednisone and told that I needed to go back to the breast center for another mammogram and ultrasound. Well my hives only got worse and I ended up in the ER getting more prednisone and an epinephrine shot. I kept telling the doctor there that I needed to know what was wrong with my body. The next day I went back to the breast center for another mammogram and ultrasound. They told me it really just looked like dense tissue but I wasn't super happy with that answer and told them I needed to know what was wrong. They said they could do a biopsy to set my mind at ease. I scheduled one for the day after school got out.
I had the biopsy on a Thursday and on Monday I was driving the kiddos home from gymnastics when I got the dreaded phone call. They told me I had the best possible kind of breast cancer and it was called Ductal Carcinoma in SITU. That meant that it was cancerous cells that were confined to my breast ducts. I have never been so scared in my life. We met with our surgeon, Dr. Galle, the next day. He told us that since it was so large there was a possibility that it could be invasive. I asked him in several different ways if this was the kind of cancer that they would open up and find everywhere and he assured me that wasn't how this worked. I knew better.
We were told by everyone that we could go on our vacation with the kids before this started and I am SO happy we did. We got home a few days before surgery and got everything ready to go. I was scared for surgery but knew everything would be okay. We went in and everything before surgery went well aside from the fact that they took like 8 tries to get an IV in.
After surgery, we found out that Dr. Galle actually began to do the lymph node biopsy and knew it was cancer. He ended up removing 32 lymph nodes and 11 of them were cancerous. I am so so happy he did this because he removed all the cancer. They had to remove my left nipple which is TMI but we found it really funny that everyone felt so bad about this when they were talking to me! We didn't care! I just wanted the cancer out of my body! I stayed in the hospital until Friday morning and headed home. We had a lovely group of people who loved on us all weekend and stopped by and kept us busy. My bestest friends Caitlin, Rachel and Sam helped with more than I'll ever be able to adequately thank them for. Andrew was simply the best. And all of our parents helped out watching kids, running errands and helping in any way they could. My neighbors stopped by and my old teammates came with goodies and let me cry. I know they say it takes a village but holy moly, our village is the best.
The next week started with a PET scan on Monday which they don't typically do on a post mastectomy patient because it took a LOT of work to lay down flat on their table! It went well and was actually pretty quick! Then on Tuesday we anxiously awaited our oncologist meeting. We waited and waited and met her. And she got to finally give me some good news. My scan was CLEAR. No cancer was left in my body. As it turns out the area they removed was mostly DCIS and she said that I could have had tons of biopsies and they probably never would have shown the invasive nature of the cancer. Only .8% of the area was invasive but the cancer was so aggressive it went crazy in my body. We are beyond thankful that they removed it during surgery and that we are going to fight chemo and radiation to make sure it is gone and never comes back.
I am done with 5 out of 6 chemo sessions. I’m on a Taxotere, Carboplatin chemo plan every 3 weeks and I also receive Herceptin and Perjeta every 3 weeks and will continue for a full year. The plan is to start radiation mid-December and be done by the beginning of February! The end of active treatment is in sight and I’m so happy for that!
I tell everyone this but as a reminder: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!!! And push doctors. And push for answers. And when you find good doctors tell them thank you and hug them and love them!
Instagram - @ashsaar