You never know how strong you are...until being strong is the only choice you have

When I discovered the unknown lump in my left breast, I knew something was wrong I had a feeling that it was cancer, I tried not to think that it was not but I can’t lie to myself like that. I didn’t know much about breast cancer, until I was assigned to prepare a persuasive speech in front of my speech class. I decided on breast cancer, I didn’t know much about it anyway and did my research. I didn’t have to prepare much or write an outline. I managed to dig deep and talked to the class unscripted. I somehow tied it all to what I was going through from the discovery of the lump and doctor visits to the fact that you or someone you know has been effected by cancer and I am one of them. Even though I didn’t know for sure at the time if I had it or not but I felt that I did. My cheeks trembled fighting back tears and that deep pain in my chest as I talked about my personal life with strangers for the first time it was scary but good it was practice for breaking the news down for my family and friends... after class one of the students came up to me and said I’ll be here for you if you need me... I was so touched by her and to confirmed I am not alone in this journey. As with many people who experience cancer, we’ve all been told we have 5 years to live with stage IV terminal cancer and there’s nothing we can do for you after conventional treatment fails. BUT I believe there IS! There are people out there who live beyond the statistics and have turn over to alternatives to fight cancer for good. That means changing your diet, eating natural foods that keep you alive, have a positive attitude, surround yourself with positive people, and following a spiritual path. I believe healing and restoring my health better than it was before. I pray every day for this cancer to go away. I am able to live normally have the strength to live on with a purpose and believing I am healed!

Content

The Scans

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 4 comments
Part I- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) 
 Prior to the scan I had to fast for 4 hours and drink only water. I went in at 9 a.m with Alissa and hung out for half an hour before I was called in. Picked up by a golf cart and led to a narrow trailer outside of the Rehabilty center. I was greeted by a very handsome radiologist (let's call him Happy) nice smile and very sweet I guess that's his job.. is to make you feel comfortable or that he lived in Alaska for several years and wants to move back there?! Is this a sign for me to go home? This talk all started off with my last name, I am telling you my name is a conversation starter, my last name is rad (~_^), then it went into south east Asia, the outdoors, and Alaska.
 Back to my topic so I was lifted into the trailer and escorted into a small room with a recliner. I had my blood sugar tested and then a radioactive substance called a tracer injected into my vein. Its job is to look for any disease in my body, to show how the organs, and how the tissues are functioning. After the injection I had to wait 45 minutes for it to travel through my blood and organs for the scan to detect the energy given off by the radioactive substance. During this time I was fantasizing about food dozing off.
 After the 45 minutes Happy took me to the bathroom before the scan and more conversation took place and I swear we both were walking baby steps to slow the time to talk. After the potty break we went back to the trailer and I had to remove my bra and put my top back on duh behind closed doors just me! (why you thinking naughty?!) Then I had to lay down on the bed and strapped in and covered in a blanket with my legs propped up and my arms over my head for 25 minutes. It sounded like a space shuttle moving up and down the tube, at one point I almost cried, but refused to be weak or show any sign of weakness and managed to hold in a tear. Then just prayed the whole time meditating Psalms 23... until I was woken up by Alissa above my head. Happy brought her into the PET room and he was peaking over and telling me I had 5 minutes left and came back again to apologize I mean you have 2 minutes left (dork!). I was able to put my arms across  my chest now while my lower half was being scanned, my arms was all jelly and numb.
 That was it... Alissa and I walked back to the car by 11 something and went to Tapioca Express I  had few bites to eat, but immediately stopped looked up the info on MRI I was scheduled for at 2 p.m. you have to fast 4 hours before this one too!!!  UGH! OoppPPpss...

I hate needles, but I like tattoo needles more

Radioactive Thing

That was not so bad after all... 

Part II -Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  Before I could do this scan I had to pay for half of the bill otherwise I would have to reschedule... totally sucks. But my health is important so I had to boo...
 This one is different from the PET instead of radiation this machine uses magnetic field/radio frequency pulses to take pictures of everything in the body. I had to get naked and have an IV injected while laying on my stomach with my boobies hanging low through two holes below me doing the super man pose arms and legs stretched out holding an emergency ball on the right and the needle half way in my other arm with ear plugs in to block off the noise. I'm not a fan of this one...the room sounded like a running dish washer. The scan started and the first thing that comes to mind was DeadMau5 head dancing in my vision and dancing.
 Seriously sounded like a trance/techno dance party in there, minus the dancing I had to be still.There was one part where my lower body felt heated and had a sensation that I was about to go pee...so awkward. This lasted longer than the PET 40 minutes for me. Didn't take any pictures for this nobody was allowed in hehe...

Results- NOTHING TILL AFTER NEW YEARS..... why because the two main importante doctors are on vacation! The wait continues... In the mean time I'll be looking forward to ring in the NEW YEAR!
2011!



Thanks Alissa Subsarn and Rusty Crusty for being my company to the appointments. iHeartU both.

Boobie Cakes

Friday, December 24, 2010 1 comments

Went to get another breast ultra sound yesterday. Apparently my primary doc hasn't been checking my medical records and scheduled me for this exam. I didn't even have to go in for a breast exam. We are already know what the diagnosis is. Anyway I ended up meeting my co workers dad who's the radiologist downtown so he suggested I do a mammogram to check the right boobie. I couldn't stop laughing during the whole process. Putting my boob on a platform then compressed into a pancake OUCH! They took a bunch of xrays and good news! Nothing on the right boob! Yay!

Special Thanks

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Rusty H- Stan Lee's SupeHuman Man the famous crash test dummy...(You crazy!) Thank You is not enough! I swear you are an amazing friend and awesome man. With your busy schedule and family life you are very special to me. I see why your kids love you so much! I am very blessed to know you. I appreciate that you "ARE" the one and only to make the time to come with me to my doctors appointment and being my secretary taking notes without me asking you. Cause you know I like doing things myself and don't like asking for help at all. Above all making me laugh through it all. I heart you! Thank you so much and for introducing me to Dr. K in Seattle... he doesn't even know me, but is helping me because of you! I feel so loved...
Love you Rusty!


Amy Y- Thank you for being the best BFF... I love you thanks for all  your love and support. I love you and your family and being part of your lives is amazing. Filling in for my family that is not here with me. I don't know what I would do without you! (sitting here crying happy tears and eating boogers while you're sleeping). I heart Ares he's a blessing for reals. Thank you for getting me reconnected with the shepherd without him I don't think I will have the strength to go through this emotional break down and I am handling well...phewww he has prepared me for this!
Seaworld!



Mom- I  heart you... even though you crazy. I love you lots. If I write more than this you wouldn't understand, but that's ok I LOVE YOU. haha =) 

Grandma- you are the sweetest... please go to bed at night and not worry about me. Everything will be just fine. I will make sure you'll have some great grand babies LOL. LOVE YOU!

Sebastian- I heart you too even with you  being far away in Europe, I know you genuinely care for me. Thank you so much for your kind words and emotional support. I got your postcards and present. Really made my day and put a smile on my face. I will def read Bill Bryson during my chemo session to make me laugh or even read allowed to people around me. Woot!



Also thank You to the very few out the "500" friends on facebook who know what is going on and actually care! you know you who you are. I love you too! I could name most of you but don't want to get people jealous =) I'll give you hugs when I see you long embracing hugs and smooches meow!

Possible Causes

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 0 comments
Just thinking of what would have triggered the cancerbad, I looked at all the risk factors and narrowed it down to these. Since there is no history in my family it could be the following:

1. BRCA Gene Mutations
2. Menstrual Period Before 12 years old.. me 11 higher lifetime exposure to estrogen/progesterone
3. Oral Contraceptive leads to greater risk of breast cancer than women who do not use them. I was on this in high school until 2008, primarily for Acne and of course "Safe Sex" you might want to consider another alternative "Abstinence". 
4. Alcohol obviously linked to greater risk of cancerbad, in this case I started drinking since high school not excessively then, but since I moved to California my consumption of alchy has increased and recently slowed down and pretty much struggling to give up the margarita. Although I can have one only in moderation. Not during chemo though... I just might as well give it up anyway!
5.  Overweight/Obesity haha yes well I gained a lot of weight from  joining yelp, then went MIA into my first relationship (was spoiled from his cooking and no active lifestyle), and the birth of Ares (no not from me) =P

So many changes to be made grrraarrrhhhh dfjdsfjdhdkljgh Sparkling Cider for NYE it is.

http://www.cancer.org/

BRAC Analysis

Monday, December 20, 2010 1 comments
Got a call from Myriad Genetics & Laboratory, where my oncologist sent in  my blood work to check for gene mutations in my DNA. Before they can release my results I  have to make arrangements to pay $3000 something? Got lost after she said 3 thousand blah blah blah... "HealthNet" did not approve and denied coverage for this? Should I just change my premium now or what? To have a lower deductible? I can enroll in my employers health insurance for January 2011, but since I already started all this diagnostics, not sure how the coverage is going to be. Even though I spoke with a rep for our office she said to keep my current insurance and enroll. Sounds too complicated. GAH!

After Christmas

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Called the MRI dept today to be put on a wait list to get scanned. Didn't take too long the scheduler called me back 30 minutes later and bumped  me up to the 27th now and not the 30th. There was an opening for the 22nd, but I am suppose to have a breast ultrasound first which is on the 23rd.( I have no idea why?!!) Meh yeah I don't know this health system... the sooner the better I don't like waiting.

Under Arm

Sunday, December 19, 2010 0 comments
On the left side is really bugging me right now grrr I can feel it throbbing. Thinking about digging my my fingers in there and ripping out the lymph nodes myself. I think watching Boondock Saints I & II, followed by the A-Team (watching now) is screwing with my head. Haha =P

I was very unproductive today.. sort of...

Went to Don's Country Breakfast in Carlsbad ordered a spinach/mushroom omelet with hash browns found a very dark piece of hair in it- I don't want to eat anything for a while.

My friend Ay... was telling me I should cut my hair shorter before chemo... maybe I should think about my hairstyle now? Mullet? Mohawk? Shaved to one side like Rihanna? Before this I was complaining about cutting my hair short anyways so I don't mind losing the hair.

All right I am going to go dance away my pain with dancing with the stars on exercise t.v.followed by ab workouts. Did it this morning too but I can do again.

What's Next...

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Well I am scheduled to have an MRI, PET scan, and another breast ultra sound. I've been trying to schedule everything before new years. As of now my MRI is set for Dec 30. I called the doctors yesterday for them to move it to an earlier date, won't know till Monday =/

The scheduler at radiology told me I had to pay over 2 grand for the MRI upfront. Ha what?! Seriously, from my ass or what? I haven't met my insurance deductible yet so that is my out of pocket for that. Good news... I got a letter in the mail today saying my insurance is covering that now, thanks to the Surgeon!

Visit to the Oncologist

Saturday, December 18, 2010 0 comments
December 13
I met Dr. Sundaram, told me chemo is the best treatment for me, followed by surgery, hair will grow back, and reconstructive surgery, I cannot work or go to school for 6 months. say what?!! No way I am way too strong for this well mentally I am not sure about my body but I am going to workout and run around with all the energy I got! He also told me to find a support team, see a therapist, and social worker.

The only thing that bothered me the most was the DNA testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2:
human genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. In normal cells, BRCA1 and BRCA2 help ensure the stability of the cell’s genetic material (DNA) and help prevent uncontrolled cell growth. Mutation of these genes has been linked to the development of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

= NO BABIES! Oh I pray for the results to come back NEGATIVE for BOTH! I will hear back in two weeks.

nasty clot from drawing blood

The Call Back to See the Surgeon

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December 9
Got a call in the afternoon to go back and see the surgeon today, but I had to go to class! Erghhh so stressful! I guess my health is more important than school. The nurse demanded me go in anyways since I won't be able to get to see him until next week. I really wanted the call to be good news so I was excited to hear negative results that couldn't be told over the phone.

I ended up going to class and was able to take my final home (yes!) one less thing to worry about. Then I headed out to La Mesa again and waited and waited half an hour later after my appointment time.

Finally, Dr. Yerevanian came in and told me, "I'm sorry Julie the results came back and it is not what I wanted to see".

Me: Tears immediately ran down my straight face, speechless, thinking to myself "OH MY WORD MY BOOB!!!" Ahhhh WTF

Dr Y: We got the results back yesterday and you have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma,  stage II (peanut size, but the tissue around it is pretty large). You are the unlucky "One" out of 200,000 in your age group.
Spreading to other parts of the body


Me: More tears... "what's next?" I don't want to lose my BOOOOooOoooooBBbb.....

Dr Y: Yes I know you don't. I want you to get an MRI done first and schedule you to see an oncologist.

He goes on to describe types of surgery... by this time I'm just freaking out inside. I headed back to my car and cried some more in the garage. Called my mom...

Drove to Amy's house and cried a little bit more. I shouldn't be driving... Stephanie was right I should have had someone come with me, but I DON'T KNOW!?!?

Meeting with the Surgeon

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December7
Drove to La Mesa to meet with Dr. Yerevenian, he examined my left boob and said what happened to me sounds like an infection, but he cannot be sure until he gets a sample of my tissue to check for tumor cells.

Oh great I am going to get stab?! I didn't know what a biopsy  was until I had it done to me. He performed the core biopsy using this:

Looks bigger in person

Let's just say I would rather get a full sleeve tattoo then lay there and watch this needle go into my booby.

The result a small incision, it is very light I can barely notice. But I was bleeding for a while.





Doctor told me it would take about 4 business days to have the results back. The wait continues...

Infection to Breast Ultrasound

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November 10
 Went back to visit Dr. Smurlo and she continued to tell me it's an infection and to put a warm compress on my left breast.

November 11
I get called in for a breast ultrasound in Miramar, radiologist said that yes we see an abnormal mass there, are you breast feeding? Once again I reply NO!

November 15
I am scheduled again for another breast ultrasound and a mammogram with another radiologist in downtown. Told me they are only doing the breast ultrasound and that I am too young for a mammogram.

November 29
Again another breast ultrasound in Miramar, same conclusion infection.

November 30
Got a call from Dr. Smurlo, vmail message, the lump is still the same size, will schedule you to see a surgeon and talk about removing the lump.

It's only an infection!

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November 1
I went into visit Dr. Smurlo, I told her what had happen and she said sounds like you have Mastitis. She asked me if I was breast feeding, I said NO, and she also asked me if someone bit me there, or played with my left breast. AWKWARD!

She ended up prescribing me antibiotics to take for 14 days and come back to check in with her in a few days to see if the lump goes away.

Causes for Infection

Breast infections are usually caused by a common bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) found on normal skin. The bacteria enter through a break or crack in the skin, usually on the nipple.
The infection takes place in the fatty tissue of the breast and causes swelling. This swelling pushes on the milk ducts. The result is pain and lumps in the infected breast.
Breast infections usually occur in women who are breast-feeding. Breast infections that are not related to breast-feeding might be a rare form of breast cancer.
  • Breast enlargement on one side only
  • Breast lump
  • Breast pain
  • Fever and flu-like symptoms including nausea and vomiting
  • Itching
  • Nipple discharge (may contain pus)
  • Nipple sensation changes
  • Swelling, tenderness, redness, and warmth in breast tissue
  • Tender or enlarged lymph nodes in armpit on the same side
Breast-feeding women are usually not tested. However, an exam is often helpful to confirm the diagnosis and rule out complications such as an abscess.
Sometimes for infections that keep returning, milk from the nipple will be cultured. In women who are not breast-feeding, testing may include mammography or breast biopsy.

Fever for You

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October 29
  Late afternoon I began to feel dizzy and sick was not able to function at work and took off early. I had to prepare for a speech and pick up equipment from Jarrod's house in PB. I ended up passing out on the couch and freezing. I woke up, noticed my left breast was red and extremely hot. I had to leave and get my work done, I still felt miserable and managed to drive to Amy's house only to pass out again.

October 30
 I woke up later in the afternoon only to discover my left breast was hard as a rock and still red. Feeling under the weather I ended up going out to a Halloween party why?! I don't know I should have just stayed in bed.

October 31
  Feeling worried now even when friends kept telling me it's only an infection and I will be fine. Yes, but still let me just think of the worst scenario... what I am not married or have kids yet this can't be happening! Teary eyed I left Jaymy downstairs and ran off to bed. Only to be woken up by some crazy shadow and heavy breathing, got scared and ran into Amy & Ares room to sleep.

I feel something here, but it could be nothing

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Back in July 2010: 
At this time I did not have health insurance. went to Planned Parent Hood for a pap test and breast check up; physician felt something on the left breast and said it could be nothing and that it must be a fibrous tissue because I didn’t start my menstrual cycle yet. And said if I was worried about it to come back and check it out. Then gave me a self breast exam pamphlet. 
After that I applied for health insurance and scheduled for an appointment to get a general check up. I mentioned to the physician about the breast exam at the planned center. She examined me and didn't feel anything, according to her.