Columbia College of Nursing, Associate Dean of Finance and Administration/CFO
My Reason For Participating:
“I believe the Rare Chair Affair is a great platform for raising awareness of the number of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and to make it more personal. It also is a fundraiser for breast cancer research. I know that without the new technology and drug advancements available today, I would not have been given much hope for survival. I chose to be a survivor artist this year because I think that working on the chairs will be fun and that I will be able to meet other breast cancer survivors. I hope my Survivor Artist chair will raise a significant amount of money that will help further breast cancer research.”
In May of 2003 I went in for my 6-month mammogram. I had been having mammograms every 6 months since the removal of a fibro adenoma in 1998. I was feeling great and had no idea that any thing would show up on this mammogram. It did show a slight shift from the previous film, however, so an ultrasound was conducted. (I am so thankful that Dr. McWey felt an ultrasound was prudent and that we did not wait for 6 months!)
From the ultrasound, it looked like there was a suspicious mass of less than 1 cm in diameter. No lump could be palpated. A mammatome biopsy was done and I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, estrogen +/- and HER2 Neu 3+. I was scheduled for a sentinel node biopsy along with a lumpectomy.
When I went to surgery I was fairly confident, as were the physicians, that we had caught the cancer early and that the lymph nodes would not be involved. I woke from surgery with a drain in my armpit and I knew that that meant lymph nodes had been positive. The pathology report showed that 17 of 30 lymph nodes were involved. Additionally, the tumor had not been completely removed. What had appeared to be less than a centimeter, turned out to be 3 centimeters!
A few days later I returned to surgery for additional cancer tissue removal and insertion of a port for chemo administration. This time the margins were clear and I set up a consultation with an oncologist for a treatment plan.
My cancer was fast growing and aggressive so I was put on an aggressive chemotherapy treatment schedule. I received Adriamycin and Cytoxin (AC) every other week for 6 weeks. During that time I would get a series of 8 daily shots of Neupogen after each treatment to keep my white count up. After the AC treatment, I received 6 Taxol treatments every other week. Taxol was not fun, as the bone and muscle pain was severe. Thank goodness for oxycodone and vicodin!
After Taxol and a few weeks rest, I started on 33 radiation treatments to the breast and lymph nodes in the arm neck and back. I ended up getting a pretty serious burn on my collarbone, but it healed quickly. Following radiation I received two more treatments of Taxol. I then started on Herceptin and Tamoxifin. The Herceptin was weekly at first, and then a double dose every other week. I am still on the Herceptin every other week, and will be on the Tamoxifin for a total of 5 years.