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Jan's Story

About her story

"I am one woman among hundreds of thousands of women who are learning to be courageous, and to overcome, and to live in the face of cancer."

Jan was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer in June 2009 after undergoing a routine bone scan for an unrelated injury. A wife and mother, Jan described her initial diagnosis as a complete shock.

"I remember just the sensation of having the wind sucked out of my lungs, a sucker punch, or something that stops you mid-stride," says Jan about her diagnosis. "And then as you begin to breathe again, there's this one million questions that circle your mind. "

Realizing that her family needed her and that she had some things she still wanted to accomplish, Jan decided to fight. Her touching story of survival and hope is an inspiration to anyone facing the difficult journey of breast cancer.

Related Questions

  • sylvia clark Profile

    Am having horrible headaches while going through my weekly chemo treatment. Any ideas?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 6 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Drink, drink, hydrating is very important. Talk to your onc. It might be a side effect of your chemo or other meds he has you on. Some steriods give me headaches.

      Comment
    • Lisa W Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      I had horrible headaches and my dr narrowed it down to the zofran. I stopped that, took compazine and did much better. ;)

      Comment
  • Brenda Austin Profile

    I am 4 months out from last chemo & developed Chest Wall pain last night. ER said not cardiac but CT showed some residual Thymus. Anyone had issues with this & can share some insight?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    almost 6 years 1 answer
    • Laura Cornwell Profile
      anonymous
      Industry Provider

      it would be atypical for chemo to cause chest wall pain, especially 4 months out. Chest wall pain would be more likely from previous radiation, and can usually be visible as a red rash in the irradiated area.

      Chest pain can be related to multiple things of course. Anxiety is a very common...

      more

      it would be atypical for chemo to cause chest wall pain, especially 4 months out. Chest wall pain would be more likely from previous radiation, and can usually be visible as a red rash in the irradiated area.

      Chest pain can be related to multiple things of course. Anxiety is a very common cause.

      Doing a quick research search through medical articles, I can't find a connection between thymus changes and breast cancer or treatment. The residual thymus was probably just an incidental finding, something that happens a lot with CT scans and MRIs. Odds are it will never do anything. Also you have probably had enough CTs through your diagnosis and treatment that the radiologist would have noted if this was a new finding needing workup. With something like that, only seeing a change would cause concern. Thymus problems are very very uncommon, and are usually limited to specific diseases.

      Best,
      Laura

      Comment
  • Alglen Thelex Garay Profile

    anybody had skin allergies and itchiness while on herceptin and radiation therapy?

    Asked by anonymous

    Family Member or Loved One
    over 5 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hello Alglen. Im in jeddah now. Hope your mom is better.

      2 comments
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I was very itchy from the herceptin, i usually took a benadryl for a few days. Helped with the itchies and rash.

      1 comment
  • Alice Eisele Profile

    I have been diagnosed with stage 4 bone matastisis,hormones positive. My onco said the big concern is that a recurance came soon after my origanal diagnosis. Does anyone know why that is and how that effects prognosis? Origanal diagnosis was in 2009.

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2009
    almost 6 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Alice,
      I just read a story of a woman who had pretty much the same thing. She has been being treated for quite a long while and it is like a chronic disease. She didn't explain herself but that is how she termed it. I am sorry to hear this Alice now you are going to have to get those...

      more

      Alice,
      I just read a story of a woman who had pretty much the same thing. She has been being treated for quite a long while and it is like a chronic disease. She didn't explain herself but that is how she termed it. I am sorry to hear this Alice now you are going to have to get those prize-fighter gloves out again and kick some more booty! We hate to hear when one of our sisters gets lousy news. We need to get a prayer chain going for you right now. EVERYONE WHO READS THIS.... PLEASE SAY A COUPLE OF EXTRA SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR ALICE. Hang in there darlin' God's strength and blessings to you. Take care, Sharon

      4 comments
    • Coco Smith Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Hello Alice,

      When cancer commences it is confined and then at a certain point is can spread - this is when it is called invasive breast cancer. It means it has left an encapsulated area and started to infiltrate into other cells in your body. Surgery, chemo, radiation, hormone therapy are common...

      more

      Hello Alice,

      When cancer commences it is confined and then at a certain point is can spread - this is when it is called invasive breast cancer. It means it has left an encapsulated area and started to infiltrate into other cells in your body. Surgery, chemo, radiation, hormone therapy are common medical treatments.

      However our breast cancer gets diagnosed at different stages of development and can be found in different locations. Some cancer cells may have spun off or escaped prior to treatment being finalised.

      Cancer cells can stay in the immediate area of the tumour [called a local or ipsilateral recurrence in the same breast/s]., another cancer in the other breast [contralateral recurence], the overall general body area [called a regional recurrence] or a long way away from the original tumour [called a distant occurrence]. Not all recurrences are from the original treated cancer. Sometimes a completely new breast cancer develops.

      It is likely from what you have said that your original breast tumour shed cancer cells prior to its removal. Breast cancer bone mets mean that is where those shed cells lodged. Bone mets can also arise from cancers apart from breast cancer.

      For bone mets that came from breast cancer - they happen because within our breast we have blood supply that can take cells into the blood stream to circulate around the body. We also have internal mammary and other lymph nodes that can spread cells via our lymphatic system. That is why surgeons do an underarm [axillary] sentinel node biopsy when we have our surgery - they are testing to see if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes. There is appox a 5% false negative rate for SNB - that is, cancer cells are there but were not detected via pathology or not enough underarm lymph nodes are removed. So that is another rarer way cancer cells can become mets. Internal chest mammary lymph nodes can also spread breast cancer cells.

      The peak time for a BC recurrence to be diagnosed is the third year after diagnosis, You were diagnosed in 2009, so that puts your recurrence in the peak recurrence time.

      If you want prognosis statistics you can log on to AdjuvantOnline! - fill in the online form stating you are a Dr [is not true but that does not matter] and voila, you have access to the database. You will need a copy of your histopathology report or at least the answers to the questions posed, you input your personal pathology data including your treatment regimes and recent diagnosis and you the get your prognosis.

      I believe strongly in women having access to as much medical information as they want but others have different personalities and want their diagnosis and other information diluted to a lesser or greater extent. Obviously if you say you want to know all the facts about your diagnosis and you chose to access that material away from your treating medico, you must also be prepared for whatever information is revealed.

      Some women after thinking it through choose to access this information with a support person present, others like me do it on their own and others prefer to wait till their medical appointment.

      I had the unusual experience of my Oncologist twirling his chair around, logging on to AdjuvantOnline!, inputting the exact same stats from the same report and printing out the results - the same results I had printed out myself 2 weeks earlier! Happily I had been able to spend that 2 weeks combing through my results, doing research and coming up with a few highly focussed questions. The time meant I was not in shock during our appointment, I was extremely well prepared and the medical portion of my 20 minute specialist consultation took 7 minutes. The consult was so productive for me because I had my information, my emotions under control, my quick but highly focussed questions & I kept it businesslike. The Oncologist actually told his staff to charge me half the normal fee because it was from his point of view the most efficient consult he'd ever had.

      The critical questions are:

      1. Tell the specialist truthfully what you personality type and health is. I am a total coward when it comes to physical pain and I have serious allergies, so avoiding pain and allergies are high considerations for me.
      2. What if any treatment if any are you recommending for me?
      3. What does AdjuvantOnline! state is their algorithms result for each treatment option for someone with my stats on overall survival? ie., you are asking how long each treatment tends to prolong life. This is a critical question because most specialists have plenty of expensive and often painful treatments, but before saying yes or no to the treatment, knowing how long it tends to extend life is important information.
      3. Can you have the full list of side effects from every treatment option to take away and consider. You especially want to know about quality of life impacts.
      4. Ask if there is any dire problem with taking eg a few days or a week to consider your options and make your decision.

      I always avoid the temptation to ask about who has survived the longest or the shortest as these are vast statistical extremes, and naturally people only want to tell me about the most optimistic anecdotes. I find other people's most optimistic anecdotes from friends of friends is not the reliable foundation I want to base my medical treatment decisions on. Adjuvant!Online has hard data fed into it from hundreds of thousands of women with BC over many years so has a sounder evidentiary foundation. Other people whose personalities require hearing only the most wildly optimistic stories will prefer that to my hard data approach.
      Best wishes to you!

      Comment

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