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2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 18, 2020 12:59 pm

I’m shocked, afraid and still can’t process everything.  Hoping to get some advice from those who have been there.  I’m a 58-year-old woman in good health.  Last time I was in hospital was when I gave birth to my daughter 25 years ago!  At the end of November, I went for my regular mammogram – and shortly after that, my life hasn’t been the same.  Following a call back and then a biopsy, I was diagnosed with invasive DCIS shortly before Christmas.  It was so hard giving this type of news to the family at a time like that.  I had an appointment with the surgeon in the new year to go over the biopsy results and determine surgical options and treatment.  I was relieved to learn that the lump was still small enough to remove with lumpectomy followed by radiation.  And told myself I can do this.  Before leaving the appointment, I mentioned that I had felt nothing at all in my breast, but that I had been losing weight over the last little while and experiencing pain in the back.  I asked if those were possibly symptoms related to the breast cancer that I might have missed.  She didn’t think so and wrote me up for a CT scan “just to be sure”.  Then everything broke apart again.  Following the CT scan, I was immediately sent for an Ultrasound.  The next day the surgeon told me that the imaging results indicate a “large complex cystic mass in the pelvis” which is in keeping with a primary ovarian neoplasm.  An appointment is now being arranged with gyne oncology.  In the meantime, the breast surgeon has recommended going ahead with the breast surgery – but now doing a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy, so that the radiation does not interfere with the other potential surgery.  I gave up the surgery date for this week as I was too stressed and needed more time to absorb all this new information.  Sorry for the long lament – I really don’t know what to do or think!

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Wendy Tea on Jan 18, 2020 3:20 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ , welcome here. I felt so overwhelmed when I received my diagnosis.  I am sorry you have received so much all at once. We are here to support you. Let us know how we can help.

Wendy Tea 
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by ashcon on Jan 18, 2020 5:42 pm

Hi Tizzie 2020
2 separate diagnosis of cancer in one month is a bit of a blindside! I don't blame you for feeling shocked, afraid, and unable to process it all. 
When I was getting hit with one piece of bad news after another in the first 4 months of my treatment for Stage III breast cancer, a wise soul once told me to take one day at a time, one doctor's appointment at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. 

That's great that you flagged the weight loss and other pain to get checked out. Now the docs can deal with everything holistically and as a whole team. 

Who do you have to support you through this? 
---- "Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced." ----

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Treepeo on Jan 18, 2020 8:52 pm

Hi Tizzie 2020‍,

You were completely blindsided.  No wonder you are in a state of shock.  You must be totally overwhelmed.

Thank goodness you told the doctor about your back pain.  I know this whole thing is scary, but better to deal with it now before it gets any worse.  Do you have family and friends who can support you through this?  Don't be afraid to ask for help.   You are going to need people to lean on.

We are all here to support you.  Please keep us posted.  Sending you cyber hugs.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Kims1961 on Jan 18, 2020 11:41 pm

Tizzie 2020‍  So glad you posted.  That is alot of news to process at one time. I was diagnosed with IDC in Aug.2017, at the age of 56 - a lumpectomy was recommended but i elected for bilateral mastectomy.  I'm glad I did as they couldn't get clear margins.  My cousin was diagnosed with both breast cancer and ovarian cancer - 2 separate cancers.  Definitely much to process, but know that medically - your team will be there to help you navigate these waters.  Although the seas may look stormy, they will also ease up.  We are here with life lines if you need to talk and be out of the "stomr" for a while.  

Good for you to take some time to process and plan - what will work for you.  Have you checked out any of the pamphlets that are on www.cancer.ca?  Starting a binder with your questions, concerns, and notes from doctors and test - may be helpful.  I found it challenging sometimes to remember who said what.  Are you able to bring someone with you to the appts?

Your post was not long at all.  So glad you have found us.  Please let us know how you're doing.  Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by JustJan on Jan 19, 2020 10:04 am

Tizzie 2020‍,
Your story sounds similar to mine. I was diagnosed with TNBC in January 2019. Following surgery and recovery I went for a consult with my Oncologist. She decided to do a baseline CT scan where a mass was identified on my ovary. I was about to start radiation and was fast
tracked to the gyne oncologist. He determined that I should finish my radiation (total of 16 rounds) and have surgery right after. I had a total hysterectomy and everything went well. It was another primary cancer. It had not spread from the breast. So here’s what
I know from my experience:
1) I was grateful for the breast cancer because it identified the ovarian cancer at an early stage
2) chemo for ovarian cancer works for both breast and ovarian 
3) you will likely get fast tracked for genetic testing which may impact
your treatment options
4) treatment for ovarian cancer trumps breast cancer so don’t be surprised if you get bounced around a bit

Take a deep breath, you’ve got this. Surround yourself with a supportive tribe and lean on them. If you feel you need it, ask your doctor for some anti-anxiety medication. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I am now through my treatment and am on to maintenance medication for the next few years. I am being treated in London and I have had exceptional care. 

sending positive thoughts your way!
Janice
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 19, 2020 12:58 pm

Thanks everyone for your support and advice. 
I just re-read my post and can’t believe I introduced myself as a 58-year-old woman “in good health”!  I guess this shows that at some level, my mind is still in denial.  I know I have to take one step at a time even though the uncertainty can be daunting.  Taking deep breaths and trying not to over-think everything.   
My support person at this time is my husband, who accompanies me to all my appointments and consults.  He is a big man but very tender-hearted and I worry about how this is impacting him as well.  My children are out of town but can travel home when/if necessary.  
JustJan , thanks so much for your note - yes, your story sounds quite similar to mine! I’m so glad that you’re doing well and that things have gone smoothly.  Thank you Kims1961 and ashcon for sharing your stories as well.   Will try and connect individually.
Many thanks.   
 

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by JustJan on Jan 19, 2020 5:39 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ I was 59 at the time of my diagnosis and turned 60 in June. So our stories really are very similar. So glad you found the courage to reach out to this group.
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Rayline on Jan 19, 2020 7:28 pm

Hi Tissy2020, I am a 62 year old very fit woman, I eat well, exercise daily. Last year a mammogram uncovered breast cancer and the mri I had uncovered lung cancer! I was devastated. I had trouble sleeping, and just could not process the information. I read a lot , took baths and started long afternoon walks. I have had surgery for both cancers and am being watched carefully with the lung cancer as there are two spots we are monitoring. A year on and life has pretty well returned to pre cancer diagnosis although I do think more about my mortality. And do not do many things I do not want to. There is good support here and I keep pretty close to the forum. It takes time to process the information and as you get your treatment plan things will start to feel better. Please take good care of yourself do things you love to do. Be loving and gentle with yourself.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 20, 2020 8:36 am

Rayline‍, thanks for sharing your experience and so glad to hear that you're doing well and came out strong!  The stories here are truly inspiring.
With respect to your 2 surgeries - did you have the breast surgery first (and was it a mastectomy?) or the other way round?   
Thanks.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Essjay on Jan 20, 2020 10:41 am

Tizzie 2020‍ i can see you are getting lots of support from folks dealing with two cancer diagnoses - you are not alone.

You can absolutely describe yourself as ‘healthy’ - my oncologist notes described me as ‘healthy’ despite my cancer! And you know what, being healthy is a blessing that will see you through surgery and treatment well.

Let us know how your appointments go.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer survivor since July 2018

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by JustJan on Jan 20, 2020 11:01 am

Tizzie 2020‍, 
I saw your question about which surgery to do first. I think you need to have a good discussion between the breast surgeon and the gyne oncologist. I would ask if they can do surgery at the same time and if the answer is yes, what are the impacts of doing it that way. Also for ovarian cancer they sometimes like to do chemo before surgery depending on the extent and size of the mass. So this is a question as well for the gyne oncologist. Sounds like the breast surgeon wants to push ahead with the surgery but if it were me I would want to have a coordinated plan before moving forward. You have the right to ask for that. You have lots of
decisions ahead of you and ensuring you have all the information you need will help you feel more confident going forward.  Please keep us posted. 
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jan 20, 2020 4:21 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ 
I know. Weird that a guy would jump into a breast cancer discussion but I'm a one percenter... The one percent of men that will get breast cancer compared to women.

I was diagnosed with a second primary (lung cancer) at the same time as my breast cancer. One of the first questions I had with the multiple diagnosis was "Who is in charge of the coordinated plan?" My onc said that the three had worked together on many occasions and had never had a major disagreement on treatment plans. My treatment plan was developed and then taken to the "tumour board" which gave it a thorough review. Sequencing the various treatments and surgery is a challenge and there will be several options. Make sure that you understand them and why the oncologist and surgeons make the recommendation that they do.

And BTW "good health" makes perfect sense to me. Even though I'm dying of this wicked disease I tell folks I'm in good health because it isn't impacting my quality of life much.



 
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Rayline on Jan 20, 2020 11:35 pm

Hi Tissy2020, I had a lumpectomy under local anesthetic, yuck. But my breast surgeon did not want to tax my system as the lung surgery was so much more invasive. I had the lobectomy about 1 1/2 months after the lumpectomy and then the margins were cleared 2 months after that. Lots of surgery but I had very good care. I am very thankful.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 21, 2020 9:17 am

Yes, certainly a lot of questions for me to ask.  WestCoastSailor‍, you're right, what I'm trying to figure out is "who is in charge" of my treatment.  In my province, breast and gyne onc appear to be quite separate - operating out of different hospitals, but I'm hopeful that there will also be communication between the 2 and a coordinated approach to the treatment.  Thanks JustJan‍ for reminding me that I have the right to ask all the relevant questions related to my treatment - have started on a list!!  

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jan 21, 2020 12:21 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ 

Which reminds me... My brain was so scattered I didn't even know what questions I should be thinking about.

This publication from Canadian Cancer Society was a huge help. Here is a link to the pdf. But if you love paper you can probably find a copy at your local office or cancer clinic. Recognized as world class I have found it in American doctor's offices!

http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/publications/Questions%20to%20ask/32099-1-NO.pdf

Called "Questions to Ask?" I found it really helpful. I cut and pasted the questions into document which I then printed and made my own notes on and then gave a copy to my second set of ears in the appointment. Once I got through the initial information barrage, I use a system of index cards that I note down my questions for each appointment. It has gotten so the doctor does his exam and then takes my note card to make sure we have talked about everything. Sometimes I note the answers. Sometimes not because I have permission to record each interaction since my care giver lives four hours away and can't make every appointment.
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 21, 2020 2:46 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ , while you’re making a list of questions, I’m going to pass on a tip that worked for me and Dad: I took a tabbed, coil-bound notebook and used it for lists (of medications and supplements), appointment dates and times, appointment questions and answers, symptom/ side effects, etc. It was SO convenient to have it all in one place, and only have one thing to grab, whether making an appointment or going to one.

BTW, I’m my Dad’s “second set of ears.” Do you have a set?
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 22, 2020 1:28 pm

Thanks Cynthia Mac‍...great ideas!  My husband will be my "second set of ears".  
WestCoastSailor‍ - thanks for sharing the information booklet on care questions.  I'm going through it now and I can see how helpful this will be.  Thank you so much.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Jan 22, 2020 3:33 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ 

On the subject of second ears - my wife was unable to attend my appointments, so I asked permission and recorded info with a recording app in my phone. Particularly in the early days being able to replay the conversation was valuable. I had one doctor refuse but even she was happy to give me a summary to record at the end of our consultation.

Ya know we are just waiting right along side you for the results...

Angus
My story: http://journey.anguspratt.ca

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Tizzie 2020 on Jan 25, 2020 10:51 am

Hi everyone – thought I’d post a quick update following my appointment with gyne oncology yesterday.  I’m still in a bit of a daze and don’t think I really fully comprehend what’s happening.  But happening it is.  Following a consultation between gyne and breast oncology, the recommendation still is to go ahead first with the mastectomy for the right breast with sentinel node biopsy to "get that over and done with it” (I’m struggling with the use of that expression to describe removing a part of my body).  Anyway, sensitivities aside, the plan is to have the mastectomy on Thursday of next week, and then a total hysterectomy done 3 to 4 weeks after that.  Given the surgical wait times at gyne oncology, it's not possible to do the hysterectomy any sooner, so they feel this is the way to proceed.   Hope they’re right…
 

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by JustJan on Jan 26, 2020 6:35 am

Tizzie 2020‍ I’m glad you have a plan now and it seems reasonable. It sounds like things will be moving fairly quickly for you although I’m sure it feels like time is standing still. Wishing you all the best and a speedy recovery for both your surgeries.  
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Turtles on Jan 26, 2020 9:48 am

Hi Tizzie 2020‍ , I too had an IDC diagnosis in December (now changed to ILC) and am scheduled for a lumpectomy on Jan 31, however, I've had lower back issues and the initial bone scan showed "something" in the lower back.  My oncologist then ordered an x-ray and again it showed "something" and though the Oncologist thinks its nothing to worry about and just to be sure, he has now ordered an MRI which is scheduled for this evening.  I was thinking that its nothing until I read your post and am now wondering what the MRI will uncover.  It's been a ride just dealing with cancer and starting a new job.  Hoping the MRI shows nothing.  My best wishes for you.  I am 52 years old and like you in good health.  The last time I was in the hospital was when I gave birth to my youngest who is now 16.  From your last post, it sounds like you're having surgery on Jan 30.  My thoughts and prayers are with you.  Please keep us posted.

Rayline‍  - you mentioned in your post that you had lumpectomy under local anesthetic.  I want to ask my surgeon to have the same but noticed you wrote "yuck" and am now wondering why you would have preferred general.  Would appreciate hearing about your experience as I'm scheduled to have my lumpectomy on Jan 31.  Thanks.

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Jan 26, 2020 3:15 pm

Tizzie 2020‍ , That’s quite the plan! It sounds as though you’re going to be “out of commission” for a while. What kinds of supports do you have in place for doing housework? Vacuuming and mopping and dusting could be out of the question for a while, so you might want to get as much done as you can this week so you don’t have to think about it while you’re recovering at home! 
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by JustJan on Jan 26, 2020 5:34 pm

Turtles‍ I asked my anesthesiologist about doing my lumpectomy under a local or a block. He said if you are just having a lumpectomy that works fine but if you are having any lymph nodes removed it is really not comfortable. Most people have at least the sentinel nodes removed which is why they do a general anesthetic. I came out of my anesthetic just fine. You can ask but they may advise against it. 
Strength doesn't come from what you can do, it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't. - Rikki Rogers

Re: 2 separate cancer diagnosis in one month – how can this be?

Posted by Rayline on Jan 26, 2020 7:13 pm

Hi Turtles,  Yes Just Jan is absolute right. The surgeon wanted to get the 5mm cancer out quickly and did not want it to interfere  with lung surgery which was going to happen ASAP. They did not take any lymph nodes. It was pretty hard for me as I am a very nervous about anything. I could feel her moving and cutting oh my. They will usually do the sentinel lymph node. I did have that done latter after the lung surgery and I was knocked out.