|| Julie Colburn Treatment: Lumpectomy, Chemotherapy
I was diagnosed May 3, 2010. I was only 33 years old. Diagnosis: Left Breast IDC, 2CM, grade 3, 2/17 positive nodes, right breast, DCIS, 5mm. There is no cancer in my family, and up until the diagnosis I was an avid runner and cyclist. I had participated in all of the Rock N Roll Marathons in San Antonio since the beginning, minus last year where I was just finishing chemo. Being diagnosed was a shock. I was so lost, afraid and really had no one to turn to. My husband (engaged at the time), was having his own issues trying to deal with the diagnosis. He had to watch me cry and as much as he tried to be strong... I know he would hide in the other room and cry.
A few weeks after diagnosis I was in the hospital getting a lumpectomy with a sental node biopsy. Unfortunately, I had 2 positive nodes so I had to get the Axilla nodes removed as well. I had a total of 17 nodes removed. A week or so after surgery, I started chemotherapy. Chemo is something I never thought I would experience. It is terribly horrifying and scary. At the cancer center, everyone is hooked up to some sort of IV, some looking thin and weak while the others seem to be accepting the fact that they had cancer and were chatting away with other survivors. I walked in and decided I wanted to be the chatting survivor. I had 4 rounds of AC and 4 rounds of Taxol every 2 weeks. I have to say the drugs were amazing but I was still sick as a dog. I lost 20 lbs and could only eat ice cream, pickles and mustard on crackers. On a side note my husband was a gem. While I was going through treatment we were still engaged and trying to plan a wedding. He stayed with me the whole time...bald and all.
After chemo, I was scheduled to have radiation. I did some research and decided that I did not want more radiation. My Oncologist told me (she is very honest), that she would not recommend I get radiation at my age and that a BMX would be best. Thank god for honest Dr's. A few weeks after chemo I had a BMX with immediate reconstruction with TE. Best decision I ever made but I had so many complications. I got an infection in the left expander. Went into the hospital got a Picc line and was on vancomycin for 10 days. The infection cleared up. We removed the expander and let the left side heal for about a 6 weeks. Tried the surgery again because I was feeling better and there was no sign of infection. Within 24 hours my breast was swollen and was double the size. My doctor was finally able to get fluid to culture (no fluid was present 1st time). Results came back....Pseudomonas. I was so mad and sad. I cried for days and days. My husband and I were leaving to go on our belated honeymoon to Italy in a week. Once again, I was back in the hospital and the tissue expander was removed. I had an IV put back into my arm and thankfully the correct antibiotic was given. My Plastic Surgeon said I had to wait 3 months before we could try the surgery again. Phew...now here I am one more month to go. My next surgery is scheduled for June 27th.
Now on to the hard stuff... I am now completed with the treatments but still going through reconstruction. I receive monthly zoladex shots and I am on Tamoxifan for 5 years. I only see the oncologist once a month for minimal checkups and CBC's. I feel so alone. I feel like my life line has been cut. I now just wait...so what am I waiting for? Well, do I wait for my tumor marker to go up so I can get a scan; do I wait for another tumor to form? I am in a very scary place right now. I have no control over the cancer and its return. So what do I do? I decided that I can't let cancer take over my mind. Since diagnosis, I have changed my lifestyle completely. I no longer eat red meat, cheese, or drink alcohol. I have not had caffeine in 2 years and fast food 1 year. I will not drink any sodas, fruit juices, or anything else with refined sugar. I will not eat any processed foods, soy products and I will only eat organic. I do yoga 2x a week and run/walk about 8 miles a week. I can say that since cancer, I have become healthier than I have ever been.
I am so thankful Susan G. Komen for the Cure has the Marathon for the Cure program. I love to run 1/2 marathons and I want to raise awareness to all survivors and non-survivors. Breast cancer does not discriminate. It can attack anyone no matter what age, race and gender. Mammograms should not be given to women at 50. I should of had a mammogram before this because I am considered high risk (no children), but I did not.