Living My Best Life Over 50

By on September 6, 2019

All my life, I have been a very active person, participating in all types of sports, including dancing.  Total wellness has always been my number one priority; therefore, I have rarely been sick throughout my life.  My ability to work in a fast-paced environment has always been easy for me.  It was a great shock to learn I had breast cancer.  The tumor was, approximately 5cm, Stage 3, type HER2, estrogen positive.  This required immediate action, as this was aggressive cancer.

By the way, I would not have discovered this had I not banged into the back of a counter-stool one evening, which bruised my breast enough to need a mammogram.  Upon meeting with my team of doctors, we then outlined my treatment which included the following, but not limited to, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.  Subsequently, I fortunately qualified and participated in a new research study.

The preliminary tests were scheduled immediately, and within two weeks of diagnosis, I began chemotherapy.  My husband recommended I treat this protocol as “my friend” to assist me in ridding this tumor from my system.  I also decided to do my best to keep my regular life routine, continuing to drive myself to work as a secretary, about 20 hours per week, housework, cooking, gardening and exercise.  As everyone does, I lost my hair, became weak, and felt tired.  I was determined not to get sick, so I followed the recommendations, drinking as much water as possible, mostly sipping, eating small portions, stopping if I didn’t want anymore, and found the foods that agreed with my system.  I discovered I could eat biscuit cookies when I felt uneasy, and the feeling would go away!  When I would say I felt tired and slow to my friends, they responded, “your tired is everyone else’s normal”.  It made me laugh and helped me to keep going.

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My chemo treatment was every 3 weeks, 5 hours a day, over 4 months.  In the end, the tumor was still about 2cm.  My surgeon and I agreed a lumpectomy would be the best course of action.  In addition, I had eleven lymph nodes removed.  I received physical therapy for lymphatic drainage massage/exercise once a week for two months.  On my own, I continued the daily massage/exercise lymphatic drainage from then on for the next two years.  Radiation began less than 2 months after the surgery, 5 business days, 20 minutes each, for six weeks.  My surgeon then approached me about a research study.  I agreed to have this extra chemotherapy because I had such a successful treatment.  I felt others before I had given me the opportunity to get healthy, so I wanted to give back too! This “Kadcyla” protocol was given every three weeks, 20 minutes a day, and began at the same time as my radiation therapy.  I was at the hospital a lot!  All the while, still working part-time!  Driving everywhere!

This additional research therapy treatment lasted approximately 9 months.  My total therapy from diagnosis to completion was about 15 months.  It has now been almost 4 years since I completed the protocols.  It has taken all this time before I could feel any sensation under my armpit where I had the surgery.  Gradually, I have increased in my strength, not yet like before, but getting there!  I feel great and my tests are perfect.  My energy has returned, and I am working full-time and very busy!  So, if one wants to be the best they can, it takes work on a regular and continuous basis.  It becomes a lifestyle.

Before I close, what might be the most important part of my testimony is the following.  Without daily prayer and a positive attitude, a knowing that one is going to be well, your outcome could be different.  This experience has given me another view of life.  If I had this to do over, I would.  I am very fortunate to have had a team of doctors and fellow staff assigned to me!  In addition to the doctors and staff, my husband, family, and friends have all been positive, helpful, informative and loving, and I thank them very much.  An attitude of joy is everything!

Vicki Caldwell lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her husband, Bobby and four cats – meow!  She is a mother and grandmother to be.  She works as an office manager at a boutique Interior Design firm, as well as a merchandiser at a world-class supplier of the finest rugs, hardwood floors and carpets to the top interior designers, architects and builders across the US.  Vicki and her husband are music lovers and enjoy watching classic movies and film noir when relaxing at home.


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Living My Best Life Over 50