“Listen to your body. It will tell you to rest. Let friends and family do things for you. I know you always want to do everything, but now, accepts help. Ask for help – many don’t know what you need. Always let someone go with you to doctors’ appointments (to take notes) and to treatments. You need everyone’s help.”
Triple Negative Breast Cancer is the type I have. There is no medicine to prevent it from coming back like hormone or estrogen related. Therefore my oncologist wanted to do chemo treatment first to be sure it shrank the tumors. If the particular kind of chemo wasn’t working, she could change the protocol. But it did work-weekly of Taxol for 3 months. Then every 3 weeks for 3 months of FMC(one of combination being the RED DEVIL). I retested for one month then had partial mastectomy to remove the tumors and get clear margins around the area. It didn’t involve the lymph nodes. Then I had 6 weeks of daily radiation to BE SURE any cancer cells remaining were attacked. The first 5 years are very critical. TNBC is a very high reoccurrence in this time. I see my oncologist every 3 months for the first 3 years. Then when I reach 4 to 5 years, I will go to every 6 months. I HOPE to celebrate at 5 years and only go once a year!
My main mission- is to get everyone to know their body. If you feel something that wasn’t there before, have it checked. When I felt that lump, I knew it was something. Don’t wait and see. Get your mammogram but more so, know your breast!!!
When and how did you learn that you had breast cancer?
October 12, 2010. I felt a sore spot on my left breast – it felt like a knot. I went to my OB/GYN that day. When he felt it, he suspected the worst and sent me to get a mammogram and ultrasound with biopsy. He called me two days later to say, “Yes, it is cancer.” I was at work – I’ll never forget that call.
Did you know much about breast cancer when you were diagnosed? Did you have a family history of the disease?
No family history. I didn’t know anything about breast cancer – never thought I would get that. When the oncologist came in with a horrible look on his face to say I was triple negative breast cancer. Mine was the worst – there is no medication to take to prevent reoccurrence. It is not hormone-related.
How involved was your treatment?
Because of the type of breast cancer, I had three months of weekly Taxol chemotherapy, there three months (every three weeks) of FAC chemotherapy (including Red Devil). In May of 2011, I underwent a partial mastectomy with reconstruction. This was followed by 36 radiation treatments.
What were the most important factors that help you through treatment and recovery?
My Kroger family! About 20 coworkers bought “Ruby’s BC Fight Cancer Fight Club” t-shirts (and 10 employees from my husband’s store). Every Friday on my chemo day they wore them to support me. They had fundraisers to help pay medical bills. When I lost my hair (coming out by the hand full when chemo started), I had my husband shave my head. Then, at that same time I shaved his head. That was one way he supported me. I belong to a Triple Negative BC group on Facebook. There are 155 other women who have or are currently going through the same cancer as me. We are true “SISTERS.” They know how I feel and what I still fear.
What did you learn about yourself as you went through this difficult experience?
I feel good considering. I still have chemo brain – yes, it is really a condition. I am at the ‘new normal’ – I appreciate the little things now. Just a flower is so beautiful. Now, I want every woman to know how important it is to “know your breast.” I want research to find a cure. I still live in fear of reoccurrence. For five years I have a slight chance, then after that it is unlikely.