Richa Khandelwal


 

My cancer adventure began late in 2015 fall when my OBGYN discovered a lump in my right breast. I  have hyper-thyroidism and I was running out of my prescription, so I had called the doctor’s office to ask for a refill. My doctor refused and asked me to come and see her as I was over-due for my annual checkup. My personal advice is NEVER take your health for granted. During the breast exam at the appointment, she felt something and asked me to get an ultrasound (not mammogram since I have dense tissues) to check it out. She did not look too concerned as I was only 36years old and didn’t have any family history of Breast Cancer (BC) . Me and my husband weren’t too worried either until my ultrasound which was two weeks later. But, it did not last long. Following the scan, the doctor informed us that they will have to do Biopsy! I clearly remember that it was a Thursday and we had to wait till Monday the following week for the biopsy results- that weekend was the longest ever for us. On Monday morning at 8am, the doctor called me from the hospital and told me that the biopsy results showed  that I have breast cancer! It was in my right breast and type of cancer is called Invasive ductal carcinoma. (Stage 1). We could not believe our ears! That morning our life felt like it had just stopped! We have a family friend who is a Radiation Oncologist Dr. Ramji Rajendran, we called him and let him know the whole situation and even he was shocked! He came to our home that evening and explained us the whole process what to expect after today. He helped us to get in touch with the Breast Surgeon Dr. Mary Ahn, the next day. She suggested that I should get chemotherapy first and then the lumpectomy. My oncologist  Dr. Steven Kanter, suggested 6 Chemo sessions every 3 weeks. Ramji suggested 35 sessions of Radiation 5 days a week post-surgery. At the end of this treatment course, I would have an MRI and they hoped to get a cancer-free result which happened in my case.

So, I got the news on October 19th, 2015, and by Oct 27th I got my port inserted and Nov 2nd was my first chemo. I couldn’t have done anything without the support of my husband, kids, in-laws, my parents, and my great group of friends. Everything was taken care of , and I am  blessed to have such a beautiful family and friends around me. According to the Doctor my sessions were intense, and we all were hoping the medication I was getting would work on my body type. People often say with one bad strike God opens other good doors, and so it was! My chemo started to work right away. As expected, it was intense and it hit me very hard, indeed. I had all the possible side effects anyone can imagine, like constipation, sores from the mouth till stomach, body ache, bone pain, muscle pain, severe skin rash, severe cough and lung infection, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, very low energy, hair loss (hardest situation of all for myself and for my family especially for my kids) and what not! Horrible experience anyone could have (and no one should ever have!) After my second round of chemo, I developed bad cough and prolonged forever, during which time I had to go through all kinds of medical test to find out why this was not getting better. Finally, the  doctors figured that I must be allergic to one of the medicine in my chemo combination, as I wasn’t getting any better even after I have 3 rounds of double antibiotics course and a round of  steroids. Steroids had their own side effects which caused weight gain and puffiness all over my body. Because of all this fiasco my oncologist had to stop my chemo after 4 sessions as my body wasn’t taking it and I wasn’t recovering for any more upcoming sessions. The positive thing in all this was my tumor was almost gone with the medication. Around 2nd week of January I was done with my chemo and had to wait for 3 weeks to go for the surgery. On February 12th I got my lumpectomy done and it was an outpatient surgery, I was home the same day. After 4 weeks of rest I started my radiation for 7 weeks which came down to 35 sessions 5 days a week. I completed all my sessions by the end of April.

 Per treatment schedule,  I underwent an MRI and I got the results that we all hoped for – CANCER FREE. I was still receiving treatment,  one medication every 3 weeks as a prevention until I completed a year of my tryst with cancer. Finally, in October, a year since my initial diagnosis, I had successfully completed my all rounds of doses and was cancer free on October 2016! Since then I have had regular follow ups with doctors, mammograms and ultra sounds and blood work. Today, by the grace of God, everything is fine and healthy and I hope this lasts forever!