Kim Dailey is an ultrasound technologist for an Obstetrics and Gynecology practice in Augusta, so she can tell you a lot of facts about breast cancer. Did you know that
· One in four breast cancers aren’t detected by mammograms
· After age 50, your chances of getting breast cancer increase.
· Only 10 percent of breast cancers are related to family history.
· Only 1 in 6 lumps are cancerous.
But, Kim didn’t learn these facts in school; she learned them through her personal experience as a breast cancer patient. “I was the last person you would expect to have breast cancer, I was under 50, had no family history of breast cancer, am a non-smoker, and my mammogram was normal,” she says. The only risk factor she had was not having had children.
Yet in 2012, she found a small bump right near her rib at the base of her breast that she miraculously touched when, she believes, “God directed my hand there.” It was so subtle, she almost dismissed it. But very focused technology detected it in its early stages, and found it had spread to some nearby lymph nodes, and her cancer journey began. Although her treatment plan included a lumpectomy, radiation therapy, and six doses of very potent chemotherapy, Kim feels she was blessed by the grace of God.
Yes, she lost all her hair. But, oh, what fun she had going into Home Depot with a baldhead. “I felt like a rock star,” she says, “sales people and shoppers were coming up to encourage me.” And, she adds, “Who wouldn’t have fun trying on new looks with wigs, scarves and hats?”
Yes, she was fatigued. But how great it felt to have the support of the specially-trained medical sonographers that volunteered to take a day of work to cover for her when she was too tired to work.
Yes, she was concerned about Chemo Brain but had very little effects of it. She even managed to learn a new computer reporting system that was modified several times during her absences.
Today, Kim is back to work full-time, and goes for annual visits to her oncologist and her surgeon. Twice a year, she had a diagnostic mammogram and MRI 6 months apart.
Luckily, she had good insurance coverage. Though insurance company didn’t guarantee coverage for the genetic testing that she thought was important. She was tested (negative), and they did ultimately cover the fees. Recently, she was tested again for the 23 other genes that have been discovered since 2012; still negative.
Kim credits her recovery first and foremost to faith and the power of prayer. She has been very committed to learning about her disease, feeling that knowledge is power. And she is committed to sharing that information with others so that they might benefit from her experience. In fact, she’s put together a great tip sheet for patients that she is more than happy to share.
She never thought there would be any joy in her cancer journey, but her positive attitude passed the stress test. She shared, “Cancer taught me not to worry but to face it as it comes. Turns out, it would have been a waste of energy. I had very minimal trauma; only had one bout of nausea. Never thought I’d say it but I truly danced with cancer!”
KIM'S ADVCIE FOR BREAST CANCER WARRIORS
Just like childbirth, everyone’s experience is different! Don’t believe that you will have a bad experience just because someone else did.
The LIVESTRONG program at the YMCAs offers a FREE 3-month membership and a special class to anyone who has gone through cancer treatment. They have a very good resource book with folders inside to help you organize your care and paperwork.
Take your vitals--blood pressure & heart rate every day. If your heart rate is high, drink water until normal. If your highest blood pressure number is below 100 (ex. 96/65), eat something salty that appeals to you.
Eat melon. (Watermelon, Cantaloupe or Honeydew). They give some nutrition, fiber & fluid.
Eat/Drink anything you like that has ginger in it. (Ginger Ale, Ginger pills, Ginger candy, etc.) You may want to limit Chinese food unless you blood pressure is low as well. It really does help nausea. Try ginger before you use the medications (ex. Zofran).
If you feel crummy and your vitals are out of whack, you are likely dehydrated. It took me ALL day drinking water constantly to get enough to hydrate. So, you may want to go in for IV fluids. It is done at the same place you have chemo.
If you have diarrhea/constipation (I did not), coat the outer part your rectum with a diaper rash ointment to prevent/reduce sensitivity. Also,you may want to use Preparation H wipes as well. Some chemo causes these symptoms, but it helps to develop a regular regimen of tracking your bowel movements & consistency. Discuss with your physician the possibility of taking oral meds to control bowel movements.
IF you go bald, embrace it. It can be a lot of fun trying on wigs, scarves and hats. Our community is very encouraging when they see a woman walking around showing off “her baldness”.
During Radiation: Melaleuca—Sun Shades After Sun Gel.
After radiation (before dressing), apply gel on radiated areas (breast(s) and lymph area).
Apply gel again before bed.
Shower/bathe breasts & lymph well every morning before you have treatment. (No deodorant, lotion, etc on breasts/chest or under arms.)
1-Get several oversized button down shirts to wear during recovery.
2-Be sure to attend the lymphedema class if you have had lymph nodes removed. Lymphedema can occur years after surgery. It is important to know the signs & symptoms.
1-Some days, you may feel as if you have plenty of energy; then all of a sudden you are drained. I discovered that Vitamin D plays a role. The year I went though treatment, I did not get out in the sun much so I was quite pale. I thought my hair was darker when it came back, but it was actually the same shade. (I kept my pre-treatment locks to compare.) You can take Vitamin D in pill or liquid form but the sun is the best way to get it. In the winter, if you can, I highly recommend a Vitamin D cruise.
2-If you are taking Tamoxifen and experience muscle cramps, ask your physician if you can try LIMU juice. You can purchase it online. I took it for 5 weeks and now rarely need it.
Some days you’ll need the rest; other days you may be tempted to close yourself off. Try not to isolate yourself unless you are so fatigued that you don’t even want the TV on. Call someone who has been there or is in the storm at the same time. Let others visit when you can. It helps to have something else to dwell on. If you have any questions or just want to talk, feel free to call me.
Kim Dailey 803-507-2081 2012 Breast Cancer Veteran.
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