5 Years Ago Today I Chose Not to do Chemo

Thanks to Facebook, I was just reminded that 5 years ago today, I chose not to do chemo. As I look back, this is probably the biggest mistake I made in my cancer journey.

facebook memory deciding not to do chemo

At the time, my hematology oncologist was not much help. We had found out that on the curve they do, I was on the lower side and in my mind I thought the benefits didn’t come close to all the bad stuff, poisoning my body, losing my hair, etc. My oncologist liked to talk and had all kinds of stories of women, but not one related to my situation, so absolutely no help. I thought I was doing the right thing for my body.

So we said no to chemo.

I thought I was done, just a few corrective surgeries with my plastic surgeon and 5 years of Tamoxifen and I would be all done.

Nope!

About 2 years after my original diagnosis, I found a lump on my scar. 1 surgery later, I was sitting in an oral surgeon’s waiting room waiting on my husband and I got the call.

It’s a local recurrence. This is a good thing because it didn’t spread anywhere. I was a mess!

One of the first things I did was get a new oncologist, one who was much better suited to my life and understanding of what I was going through.

I really didn’t know what a local recurrence meant, and at the time, I was not aware of metastatic breast cancer. (Thank god I wasn’t, but once I found out about it I did have extra questions for my doctor and she explained, that what they think happened was the lack of blood supply to the area didn’t allow the Tamoxifen to get to the microscopic cancer cells that were missed during the mastectomy.)

Not only did this spark more surgeries, but it put me on the road to chemo, radiation, a hysterectomy and ovary removal, and then trying the 3 drugs you can try once you are in menopause.

Those 3 drugs have been the cause of most of my stress. Everyone of them has caused me leg pain 24/7. Some worse than others, so I am on the one that causes the least. And that’s for another 2.5 years. It, along with menopause, has also helped create bone loss and yet another pill I have to take.

Lessons learned:

  1. If you are uncomfortable with any of your doctors, try a different one before you make a lasting decision.
  2. Maybe going through the chemo the first time would have saved me from the meds that cause pain and the 35 rounds of radiation
  3. Try not to look back on the what ifs, you can’t change them. You just have to move forward from where you are.

I know, sometimes, it’s hard not to look back, but there are no take backsies, there are no what ifs, there is just today and how we move forward.

Justin and Ryan of Blue October and Heidi Kelly

I’m writing this in an effort that maybe, just maybe someone going through something similar will see this and stop and think an extra second, get a second opinion, or stop regretting what they cannot change.

I know it’s hard to not kick yourself, but really what good is it going to do? We all move forward, not backward, unless there is some really cool sci-fi thing happening, lol!

In the end, I’m here to tell my story, relate my problems and maybe just maybe help someone else. I’m not giving medical advice, I’m giving some mental advice. Everyone of us is going through something completely unique, no two of us are the same!

I’m moving on. I met with the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley and we are working on some ideas like maybe doing some one on ones with those not comfortable in groups and even possibly a jouranling class. I met with my therapist again and she was amazed at the difference a week and a half makes. So I know I’m headed in the right direction.

So here’s to my first rant, all because of a Facebook memory. Sometimes those are good and sometimes they just bring up something I wish I could forget (even though, I will never forget this one).

What I can do is move forward and live the best life I can!

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4 thoughts on “5 Years Ago Today I Chose Not to do Chemo

  1. Very proud of you Heidi and Mike and how you have handled all you have been through since your diagnosis. No doubt your journals will help others going through this as well as help you….mentally as well as physically🌷💕

    Liked by 1 person

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