There was no lump -- a Breast Cancer blog

This blog is about my experience with Inflammatory Breast Cancer.
You can learn more about Inflammatory Breast Cancer at or

The names of my Doctors have been changed.



Contact me at Liane58 at gmail dot com
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Location: United States

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Chemo 4

Like the previous two, not so bad, and I think the acupuncture is really helpful in keeping my energy level up. This was my last one of Adriamyacin/Cytoxin, however. On August 13 will have my first of Taxol, which has different side effects -- no nausea, but achiness, numb extremities, fatigue. So we'll see.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


In the past, I think I was the kind of person who was made uncomfortable by other people’s illness. I hope I did not run away from friends who were sick, but I think I may not have been very supportive or helpful. I didn't know what to say.

Now I get to learn about all the wonderful ways that friends and even acquaintances can be helpful and encouraging. And I can experience the difference it makes. I’ve been helped by so many people going with me to treatments, shopping and running errands for me, moving furniture, all kinds of things. I've gotten calls and cards from people I've emailed with but never met. I've heard from relatives and friends I haven't been in touch with in years. Particularly helpful is to hear about the many other survivors -- people I didn't know had experienced cancer and who now are living normally.

Here are some of the moving and inspiring things that people are saying:

May the medicine do its magic,
May your soul remain strong, and
May friends provide fun and fancy in the weeks ahead.

So very sorry to learn of your travails. But your upbeat spirit comes through no matter what. Life demands that of us at one time and another - I know this personally - and somehow we hang on and carry on - and good things can happen, too.
My son … is coping in ways that I could never have imagined. Stay strong! With affection and hope.

Your "soldiering" stamina is beyond my imagination.
In both of your situations you have my support and respect, as well as a hope that "my bad news" will become "my good news."

As a breast cancer survivor, I know what a difficult and anxious time this must be. I am glad you will keep us informed as to the treatment, diagnosis etc.

I don't have a proper vocabulary in English to express my sadness and feeling of compassion for you. The life hits unexpectedly and very mercilessly sometimes, but you could be surprised to bump into even more

unexpected happy turns. …Be strong and do not lose sense of humor. Surprisingly, but it helps.

Dear dear Liane,

I'm so grateful for your sharing all this! First, I knew none of the cancer news; second, I never saw any blog before, didn't even know what it was; third, I'd heard nothing of your publishing challenge; fourth, I never heard any details from anyone before about the chemo experience. So it's all new, fascinating, terrifying, intense, and real, very real.
Once again I see the force and strength which comes (only?) from facing adversity and crisis -- hopeflly with insight and humor and honesty. Bless you so much for sharing it with me, with us.

Here is to your feisty spirit!

Your Mom has told me that you have many friends who will take your family's place during the next few months. If your mother will let us we will try to do the same for her here.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Chemo 3

Again (like after Chemo 2) the nausea was much better, but I wanted to try and do something about the fatigue I experienced; even after 4-5 days I was still very tired. Many of my friends swear by acupuncture, so I decided to try it. I went to someone recommended by the Social Worker who facilitates my support group. The acupuncturist is a very no-nonsense New Englander (which is good, as I have a low tolerance for New Age types), and she could take me right after my treatment. Laura C., a very good friend, went with me to treatment and then drove me, as Rosie was not feeling well.
I had never had acupuncture before, and it was not quite completely painless, but once the needles were in (four in each ear) it was quite relaxing. I lay on my back for this. She also stuck on some tiny little balls to stimulate the meridian point – she left these on. Friday night I felt pretty good, and my color was better, less green-ish gray. Saturday AM I woke up “zippy,” as Rosie described me. Saturday and Sunday I’ve done some napping but also had some energy for doing errands, walking the dog, etc. Not much concentration for reading, but have watched some TV and videos.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

My Care – the Doctor, Support Group, the Hospital, Advice

A couple of people have asked me about the quality of care I'm receiving. To try and keep the names of the staff anonymous (can this blog be Googled? I don't know.) I'll be elliptical about the where as well as the who.

Anyway, I am very pleased with my quality of care, and feel lucky that it is at one, very respected Hospital, whose geography I am starting to feel comfortable with. I'm glad it's not a really huge hospital, and that the oncology wing is in a small, easily navigable separate building.

I continue to marvel at Dr. Smith's energy and optimism. She is just so upbeat, yet sensible. But best of all is the Social Worker who meets with my support group every week. She is such a knowledgeable resource -- all she does is work with breast cancer patients -- and so endlessly compassionate and caring. Every theory, every study about possible treatments, she knows about. It's just great to have someone like this be so accessible.

My Illustrious Support Group

The group members themselves are such great people. The three of us who are dealing with IBC also have cats, so last time we devolved into a cat care and psychology discussion. At home I feel like I run senior feline assisted living center (although there are only two cats -- a third passed away in 2001).

My group colleagues are just full of important words of wisdom, as well of encouragement. It's so great to know we all go through (occasionally) things like waking up crying, starting to cry in the middle of the day -- not really knowing why, just the abstract weight of it all. We all (in chemo) have mouth sores, as well as hair loss, and it's nice to also see members with hair growing back – a reminder that this is a temporary condition.
I had asked Dr. Smith about my mouth sores, so she briefly pulled my out of my Support Group to look at them. But by then the group had already answered all my questions, I told the Doctor. "Ah, yes, that is a very illustrious group," she replied. And so it is!


So three members of my group have IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer) -- pretty remarkable, considering that IBC is only one to four percent of all breast cancers. But lucky for me, I must say. A group member had this advice, that I decided to write down to help myself really absorb it --

to always ask these two questions, when learning about the next stage of treatment or treatment possibilities:

(1) Are there any other possible side effect or results to this treatment? I'd like to know about the full range of possible outcomes.
(2) are there any specific considerations I should have because my cancer is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Mom's good news

Mom had her pre-cancerous lump removed on the same day as my Chemo 2. Although she had general anesthesia in the morning, she was alert and played a full game of Monopoly with her grandchildren in the afternoon (while my sister napped)! Mom felt fine and had no pain or ill effects. My Supermom!! Then ten days later, she met with the Doctor, who told her that the operation was a complete success, that all the pre-cacnerous cells had been removed and there was no sign of any further disease. He advised that she take tamoxifen, and she is going to consider that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Hair today ....

It was falling out all over, not in huge clumps, but in small wisps, making a mess on everything I came near. So I bought a set of clippers, and got my friend Claire (experienced in head-shaving) to do the honors. I was glad to have this done in my own home, and not to be sitting in a salon. Claire did a great job. It feels less itchy and less sensitive now; I’m glad to have it all off, and not to have to worry about it coming off in my hands and everywhere. I’m getting used to plunking my wigs on just like a cap. Although I did go out in the yard briefly forgetting I had "nothing" on my head! A funny feeling, to have this "new" way of being "naked."

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Chemo 2 and Harry Potter

So far, chemo 2 has been much better than the first. Having alerted my medical team to the nausea of last time, they gave me two new drugs to take (in addition to the others). So now I am taking both a $100 pill and a $60 pill! Both, fortunately, in free samples, which seems like such an odd maneuvering demanded by the medical system.
I was still very tired, but so far there has been no nausea at all. I was even able to eat with my friends who came over for my second “chemo party” – I had macaroni and cheese, and I won’t describe the stuff they had, beyond noting that my placid 15-year-old cat Pamela turned into a wild animal chewing on the bones. Today, Saturday, I'm feeling good, quite perky.
During the chemo session itself, Rosie & I started watching the first Harry Potter movie. She is a dyed in the wool fan, and I am a new initiate to this cult. The movies are enjoyable in many ways: as I’m a real Anglophile, who could resist to setting of College life, mossy professors, magisterial dining halls, etc. But some of the characters are such thinly draw stereotypes of bad or good. And the action scenes find it hard to lift themselves from similar scenes of film history – the aerial game played on brooms is so much like horse races (or the Ben Hur chariot race) that we have seen before. So much for film criticism – I’ll see the rest of the HP films, as long as I’m able to get up and stretch in the middle!