My name is Katie and on September 9, 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This page is meant to provide detailed information on my diagnosis and treatment history. To learn more about my current treatments go here.
On September 9, 2013 I was diagnosed with triple negative, Grade 3, Stage 2A breast cancer. I found a lump in my right breast in late August of 2013. I went in to see my primary care physician who referred me to get an ultrasound at Georgetown University Hospital. I ended up getting an ultrasound, mammogram and biopsy on September 4th and was diagnosed the following week. The original cancer was a 4.7 x 4.7 cm lump in my right breast an a 1 cm lymph node in my right auxiliary (armpit) that turned out to be cancerous.
My cancer is triple negative which means that it is not have receptors for estrogen, progesterone or HER2 (the three known receptors). I have 0 estrogen and progesterone receptors and have been found equivocal for HER2 which means I have some receptors but not enough for targeted treatments to necessarily work.
I have also tested negative for BRCA genes as well as a panel of more than 25 other genes that have a known link to breast cancer.
Before I began chemo I received fertility treatment to preserve my fertility. I ended up having 52 eggs harvested and 25 were successfully fertilized. This is an incredibly high number so others going through the same thing shouldn’t necessarily expect similar results. To learn more about my experience with fertility treatment see this blog.
Because my tumor was large it was recommended that I have neo-adjuvant chemo in order to shrink the tumor as much as possible. I was part of a clinical trial called I-SPY II so my regimen was as follows:
October 2013- December 2013 – Taxol and MK-2206 (an experimental chemo), 12 weekly rounds
My symptoms included:
January 2014- February 2014– Adriamyacin and Cytoxan, 4 rounds every other week
My symptoms included:
April 2014- June 2014 – Carboplatin and Taxotere, 4 rounds every 3 weeks
After my mastectomy they discovered that the previous treatments had only caused my cancer to shrink by about 20% and they found it had spread to my lymph nodes. Even though it was off-standard care they decided that additional rounds of chemo would be beneficial given how aggressive my cancer was.
My symptoms included:
It was recommended that I have at least a single mastectomy since the tumor was still so large when I finished chemotherapy. I opted to have a double mastectomy because with triple negative breast cancer in young woman survival increases by 5% with a double mastectomy. I was able to have skin and nipple sparing surgery on March 11, 2014. My surgeon, Dr. Shawna Willey, recommended that I have my right nipple removed as the cancer was quite close to it but I protested and she agreed to test the skin under the nipple. If it had been positive I would have had it removed in a second surgery but it turned out to be negative. I also had a lymphadendectomy and had 11 lymph nodes in my right auxiliary (armpit) removed. Three were positive for cancer with the largest at 1 cm. The scar on my left breast is below my breast and the one on my right is across the right side closest to where the cancer was.
I also had a reconstruction with expanders placed under my pectoral muscles. They started being filled at 200 ccs and eventually were filled to 400 ccs total. I am still waiting on replacing the expanders with permanent implants.
I lost range of motion in both of my arms although it was much more severe in the right arm. I had to have physical therapy but still have tightness on my right side and pain in my chest.
I had 33 rounds of radiation to my right breast, auxiliary (armpit) and neck. These were given 5 days a week. The last 5 rounds were boosters that were given to the scar. My main symptoms were fatigue and burned skin. I used Calendula cream which was very helpful. I got one blister which was on skin that I thankfully had no feeling on so it wasn’t that bad. I used medi-honey pads to help heal the blister. The skin discoloration mostly disappeared within the first 6 months although the skin remains a little bit tighter on the right side than the left.
I completed treatment on August 25, 2014 and was put on 3 month follow ups. My follow ups included only blood work, no scans. My first follow up in December of 2014 showed normal blood work. Then on January 4, 2015 I discovered a small lump in the lymph node above my clavicle. An ultrasound, biopsy and PET scan showed that it was triple negative breast cancer and that it had not spread to any other part of my body. The lymph node was 1.2 cm x .5 cm. To learn more about my treatment course see my Treatment page.
Last updated: 4/19/2015
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