Updated: Apr 5
Being active on social media and having opened up about my health, I've been receiving tons of inquiries about what the exact story is regarding my diagnosis. So to bring clarity to this topic and hopefully, be a useful resource to fellow cancer survivors out there, here's my exact health timeline and the important details:
SEPTEMBER 2016 - I felt a soft lump the size of a marble on my left breast close to my armpit while in the shower and had it checked in the closest breast clinic.
OCTOBER 2016 - After a series of tests including biopsy, the tumor turned out malignant. It was classified as stage 2A, ER+ HER2 -. I did a BRCA gene testing to identify if I am a cancer gene carrier and it turned out negative.
DECEMBER 2016 - I had port-a-cath inserted in my upper right chest in preparation for chemotherapy. Having the port makes it easier to get infusion instead of going through an IV.
JANUARY 2017 - I started chemotherapy using a clinical trial drug called Irinotecan. It was infused on me every 2 weeks until March so it was a total of 6 rounds. I took Talazoparib pills daily as well along with it. Side effects for me was mild nausea and fatigue. According to my oncologist, the use of these trial drugs were stopped already for breast cancer because they don't seem to work.
MARCH 2017 - I did a scan to see how my tumor responded and it barely shrank. My tumor size is about 3.3cm and it pretty much stayed the same. I also started injecting myself daily with Lovenox, a blood thinner because I developed a tiny blood clot where my port was placed. It was necessary to prevent it from getting more solid. I was on it until June.
APRIL 2017 - I shaved my head to prepare for the Adriamycin Cytoxan chemotherapy. It was infused every 2 weeks until May so it was a total of 4 rounds. I experienced hair loss, fatigue, nausea, indigestion, difficulty sleeping, chronic cough, low red blood cells and bland taste buds.
JUNE 2017 - I did my lumpectomy surgery to take out the tumor. After the operation, it was discovered that there was a 0.1 metastasis on one of my lymph nodes which bumped me to stage 2B.
JULY 2017 - I had my port-a-cath taken out.
AUGUST 2017 - I started doing radiation therapy on my left chest. I did it 5x a week for 6 weeks. I experienced fatigue, darkening of the area being targeted and mild shrinkage on the left breast. The darkening disappeared after around 6 months when treatment was finished.
OCTOBER 2017 - I started hormone therapy by taking Arimidex pill daily and monthly Zoladex injection. I felt very anxious and amped while on it though so I decided to switch to Tamoxifen daily pill instead.
FEBRUARY 2019 - I was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety and seek professional help.
MARCH 2019 - I was experiencing a chronic dry cough that won't go away for 5 months so my medical team ordered for a PET scan to be sure I don't have lung cancer. The good news is it wasn't lung cancer. But the bad news is that the scan showed I had a very early metastasis. It's a size of a small dot on both sides of my hips and on my 2 lymph nodes. I was ordered to switch back to Arimidex daily pill and monthly Zoladex injection which I will be taking for 10 years or more.
JUNE 2019 - My dry cough completely healed and my depression and anxiety are being managed well. I did a CT scan on the chest, abdomen and pelvis as well as bone scan. It showed that my 2 cancerous lymph nodes shrank and the small dots on my hips are stable which means my body is responding well to the hormone therapy.
SEPTEMBER 2019 - I will have my next CT scan to see how things are going. I'm praying that it will be NED (No Evidence of Disease) this time around. I leave it all to God. Let's keep WINNING!
RECENT UPDATES - New drugs for metastatic breast cancer such as Ibrance (FDA approved) and Kisqali (clinical trial) are now available for hormone positive cancers. Ibrance has prolonged a lot of MBC survivors' lives here in the US and is said to be well tolerated by the majority. This drug (or Kisqali) will be my next line of defense if there will be a need for it but hopefully not. To any hormone positive MBC survivors reading this, there is definitely hope! Ask your oncologist about it.