I am looking for some input from people with experience on here, so I will try to keep my story brief.
Breast cancer does run in my family, and I did lose my mom to it. I had my first breast biopsy at 40, and it was just pre cancerous area. I have been followed every 3-6 months since, and I am now 44. I have actually gone almost a year since my last mammo now due to living in a new area and going to college full time. After some new symptoms I have an appointment in the morning to reapply for my Susan G. Kohman admission (as these are the good people who have paid for all my mammo's and 3 biopsies)
The symptoms are the lump that was in my breast is no longer movable, I cannot grasp it between my fingers and roll it. It is now fixed and very hard, like a rock. It has also grown. For the last 3 months I have two lymph nodes in my neck, right under the jawline, that are growing, and are also rock hard. They are painless unless you press on them, and then it can be like a deep ache through my throat. In the last 3-6 months I have lost over 20 pounds, have been having night sweats, and for the last month have been couging up a lot of phlegm, sometimes blood tinged.
Has anyone had these symptoms? What could it be? I didn't know wether to post my question in the breast cancer forum or lymphoma forum, or something else. I try not to be too paranoid, but these symptoms seem to much to dismiss. If it is cancer, and is in both my breast and the nodes in my neck, does that mean it has metastisized? I would sure appreciate any wisdom and insight. The unknowing is horrible
The following user gives a hug of support to babysister66:
Sorry, I felt I should add a little more info that may or may not be relevent. I have been told I also have autoimmune disease, but my doc didn't do blood work to verify as I have no insurance. He just said my symptoms were almost positive for it, and I have been taking predisone daily for a year. I have CRPS(complex regional pain syndrome), and the steroids help keep my arms from getting swollen and purple. I have also had a complete hysterectomy, and am suppose to take hormone replacement therapy but due to the cost I haven't been taking the. I don't know if any of this is important, but I felt if someone can help me with their story or advice, they should have all the info. Thanks for helping and listening
I know no one has responded, but I am sitting up here before my alarm goes off cause I am so nervous as my appointment is this morning. I just figured writing my nerves down here might help me After I go re apply for my Susan G. Kohman help, the breast center wants me to walk over and try to get worked in today, even though they are booked. I am going to try, but I might now be able to get in as I have to meet my prof. At school at 3pm, and it is my senior year of nursing, so I can't miss. I am so scared. I guess everyone knows their body, and I know something has been off. I am so fatigued, and don't feel good most of the time. The first thing people say when they see me now is "you are so thin", and "you dont look good". Nice, huh? lol I have lost over 20 pounds and I don't know why. Alright, I am just going to go read more threads. Wish me luck please, whoever reads this
lol, I'm the only one talking to myself, but oh well. They did not have time to do all the tests today, wanted to get me in tomorrow, but with school I cannot go until next monday. When the screening Doc saw me, felt the lumps in my neck, armpit, and breast, and heard about the weight loss and stuff, he said he has been doing this for 30 years, and it looks, acts, and feels worrisome, like cancer. So now I am on the hurry up and wait game. Ugh.
You might get even more response if you post this on the breast cancer board, but I do have a bit of experience that I want to pass on to you.
First of all, it definitely does sound like breast cancer. A lump that is hard, fixed and unmovable is much more likely to be a cancerous lump than one that is soft and squishy or moveable. Can you contact the Susan G. Komen foundation and see if you can get some financial support to get the necessary tests done ASAP...and that would probably include surgery to remove the lump and all the necessary pathology to determine exactly what type of breast CA it is (there are many types, and treatment depends on determining the type.)
Secondly, since you are describing lumps in your jawline, you are probably right that they are lymph nodes that have become involved, although there is some small hope that they could simply be swollen or infected salivary glands, and since you do have an autoimmune disease, that might predispose you to that sort of infection although, to be honest, it does sound more like metastasized breast CA, although obviously I am not a doctor and I could be way wrong...wouldn't that be nice!
At any rate, the other thing I want to pass on is that my mom was diagnosed with THIRD stage breast CA in 1985 (back in the dark ages of breast CA treatment)...and through treatment she lived another 8 1/2 years. Her oncologist told me after she passed on that he hadn't expected her to live another 6 months, but she had a great attitude, kept doing chemo and radiation whenever it recurred, and through it all, she never missed a day of work (until just two months before she died)...and that was 25 years ago! Treatments today can be much more specifically targeted, and many more people are getting complete cures, so do try to keep that in mind and try to keep your spirits up.
But do call anyone and any organization that can help you get and pay for treatment. Another possibility is to go to whatever hospital near you that you would want to be treated at and see if you can qualify for something called "uncompensated care"...ask them at the breast cancer center, too. Also, I would tell your professors, in private, a bit about what you're going through and ask if they can give you a bit of slack in terms of meeting deadlines or having meetings with them, as you both need and want to get into these appointments ASAP, whenever they can schedule them.
Oh, and just for the record...I, myself, am a 2-time cancer survivor. The first time, cancer of unknown primary (they could not find the primary), 3rd stage as it had metastasized into lymph nodes and beyond...treated in 2001 and no recurrences. Second time, transitional cell carcinoma (bladder CA), first stage, treated with surgery only in 2005, no recurrences. I wish you all the incredible luck that I had, and may you survive this and go on to live a long, happy and healthy life.
It is nice to meet you, although I sure wish it was under different circumstances. A lot of the symptoms you have presented sure could fit into the realm of breast cancer, but for now, a "We will see" attitude needs to prevail. I so understand the anxiety as we "wait and see," but, truthfully, it is the only course of action that is possible.
Like Ruth's mom, my mom also had breast cancer and it moved into some lymph nodes in the arm. That was 16 years ago and she is healthy and going strong at 81 years of age! She drives, shops, goes to a gym and is very active socially.
I was diagnosed with a rare cancer... myxoid liposarcoma... 15 years ago. There was no treatment protocol at that time so there was definately some winging it on the part of my treating doctors. There was a 95% reoccurance rate. And you no what? I am cancer free today and have been moving on nicely in my life.
I think you should get a mantra going for yourself.... maybe something like "I am a strong young woman who can fight hard when needed." Say it during the day many times... embed it in your mind.
Wishing you all the best and will be waiting to hear results when they do come in.
Thank you so much for responding to me Ruth, I was starting to feel silly talking to myself. I'm sorry about your mom, but she sounds like she was a strong woman. I lost my mom to breast cancer too. She has a complete mastectomy, and was ok for years, but then it metastisized to her bones and it ended up getting her anyway. She was a strong woman too, but she never had to work outside the house (If you can call raising 7 children not working, lol) I guess I am scared, but more feel like come on, lets do this. Just not knowing sucks. My proffessors at school just tell me I look horrible, whats wrong with me, etc etc. I don't want to bring up the C word unless I really have to, I don't want to look like I am shooting for a sympathy play. I am in my senior year of nursing, and I have made it this far, I just want to be able to finish. I just seem to get sicker and weaker as time goes by. I feel it, I look in the mirror and see it. I have active pneumonia right now, when I ususally only get pneumonia in December. It hit early and hard this year, so I really feel down and out right now.
Well, again, thank you so much for sharing. It feels good to be responded to
Being strong is a good thing, but sometimes we can be too strong, and we cut off people who would be more than happy to help us out if we need it. I would highly recommend you let your professors in on what's going on...especially at nursing school, there should be a lot of understanding and, in fact, they may be able to pull some strings for you to get this taken care of (tests, surgery, whatever) more quickly. You don't have to say it in such a way that you appear to be just seeking sympathy, but you can tell them in a very matter-of-fact way that yes, they're right. you don't look well because...etc. You may be very pleasantly surprised at the support you'll receive, sometimes from the places you least expect it.
As for wanting to finish up...it is WAY more important right now that you get your health taken care of. You may be able to finish your senior year on time, but if it turns out you can't, then you'll finish as soon as you're able. It would be horribly ironic if you delayed treatment in order to finish school only to find out that you delayed too long to have a real shot at a complete cure (IF this is, as you suspect, breast CA). Do whatever you have to do to get some answers, and clue your profs in too.