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Second Opinion Update Anniesantiago

2020 Camino Guides
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Note from the mods: This is the third post from Annie. For earlier posts describing how she got here, look here and here.

So for those who are interested I had my 2nd Opinion appointment today with Dr. Nathalie Johnson.
It began on a VERY positive note, when I got lost and a kind lady helped me find the office, telling me SHE had gone through breast cancer 2 years ago and that "You're lucky to see her! She is the BEST of the BEST!" I've heard that over and over the past few weeks.

Anyway.. long story short, she first told me to "go walk the Camino! It will help you! "
She told me she didn't feel this is an aggressive cancer at all (different from the 1st opinion) which eased my mind.
She prescribed a drug, Letrozol to "starve the cancer" and cause the tumor to shrink while I walk. I've since discovered that Letrozol IS a type of oral chemotherapy - so I'm processing that.

I must decide in the next two days if I will have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy upon my return in April.

I'm leaning toward the double mastectomy (DM) with no reconstruction,
because I am 67, not 30, and really just want this to be over.

With a DM I would need NO chemo, NO radiation, with only a 1% chance of recurrence.

With a Lumpectomy, I would have to have several radioactive drugs intravenously, and would definitely have to have radiation afterwards for 4 weeks and I'm just not willing to put my body through that. In addition, the radiation itself can cause cancer. And after all that I'd still have a 4% chance of recurrence.

I feel my best chances of just getting on with life is to have the DM so that's where I'm leaning.

So.. I LOVED this doctor, and walked out happy.
She promised, by the way, to sing me to sleep during the surgery (she's known for that)

I'm still not feeling any fear, except for fear of the medication - it's strange, this journey - not sure why I need it, but here it is.

I have genetic testing on the 17th, then fly to Palm Springs to pick up Joe, then on to Madrid on May 4.
I'll start on the Frances, and depending on how tired the meds make me, may drop down to the VDLP if I feel like it.

HOORAY!
Hope to see some of you on the trail!
PS: Stopped by New Balance and picked up my new trail shoes today also! It was a good day!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
what wonderful next steps for you to take....all the best with your Big Decision (it feels like you have pretty much made it already).....should by some miraculous chance our paths cross in May/June, dinner is on me!
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
Hi Annie-- Hooray for your second opinion doctor! And thank-you for your post. You are brave and heroic, and I hope I can be like you, if I ever have to face cancer. You and your camino are in my prayers and heart.

Ultreia!

Kate
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)

Bisnieta

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2021)
Great news! Letrozole is in the same class of hormone therapies as what my Mom is on, Anastrozole. Both are aromatase blockers (aromatase is the enzyme involved in estrogen production).

I have no clue why one of the two would be indicated for which patients, but I wouldn't fear either now, after my mother's experience with her estrogen blocker, the way I might still when I hear "chemo" which can be difficult, if not brutal, for many patients.

Sure, there could be side effects with these too (hey, there are side effects with some patients with anything, even aspirin!), but in my Mom's case she's suffered no ill effects in almost 2 yrs, nobody who didn't know she was on it could tell any difference, it's been easy as pie, she just pops a pill once a day.

Her team here at MDAnderson occasionally screens her for changes in bone density (a possible side effect) & what not, but so far so good. Her malignancy shrunk away & totally vanished within months & she required no surgery.

I don't blame you one bit for wanting to just get it the heck all over with & do a double M - I had a neighbor who did exactly that & I was happy to cheer her on as she did it, but hers was a different type of cancer & her family history with the same disease was not encouraging.

It just seems to me there's much, much more risk to undergoing a major surgical procedure than popping these little estrogen blockers - which, alleluia, your type of cancer is miraculously the very kind that can be helped by hormone therapy!

TLDR: Don't fear Letrozole, give it - & your camino! - the chance to let them both do their magic before you make any other decisions. I am so glad for you that you've got top notch care & that you are being given this option!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I'm really grateful for all the support I've gotten here.
I'm also blown away by how many pilgrims have traveled this same road, silently, (unlike me who has to shout things from the rooftops! 🤣 ) and all of the great advice I've gotten from those with experience. I can't thank you all enough.

Buen Camino!
 

Stephen Nicholls

Steve Nicholls, Suffolk, U.K.
Camino(s) past & future
Too many caminos to list in the permitted 100 characters!!
Bless you, Annie.
Enjoy your camino - I know you will! I wish I were able to walk another, but at 81 have had to call it a day.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. And this forum is supporting you beautifully!
A hug from cold England.....
Stephen. xx
 

Wild Irish

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Mixed Camino/ Francés with variants (July/Aug 2020)
Fantastic news that you can continue on your Camino, I know you have huge things to consider but you sound so positive and upbeat! You're inspiring and brave and I'm looking forward to following your journey on the road, keep us posted in the meantime! Lots of love, Sophia 🤗♥♥
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola, Dear Annie so pleased you went of and got that second opinion. Too many time to many people take the first option and its not always the best one. My chemo is a target specific one and I am cutting it short one shot so that I have at least 3 weeks rest/repair before we fly out for Porto. Have a really , truly, "buen camino". As for surgery on return - go with the option that works best with your brain as well as your breasts. Much love!!;)🚶‍♂️🏃‍♀️🍸
 

Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
Congratulations on the encouraging news and your admirable response, and very best wishes for the most rewarding walk of your life!
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
LOL, Annie. Isn't it great to make it to an age that the choice of a DM or not is so much simpler (not simple, just simpler). I haven't faced your decisions (yet, knock on wood), but you are my compadre. You do what you have to do. We are all with you. You give me strength.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Hola, Dear Annie so pleased you went of and got that second opinion. Too many time to many people take the first option and its not always the best one. My chemo is a target specific one and I am cutting it short one shot so that I have at least 3 weeks rest/repair before we fly out for Porto. Have a really , truly, "buen camino". As for surgery on return - go with the option that works best with your brain as well as your breasts. Much love!!;)🚶‍♂️🏃‍♀️🍸
Thanks Mike, and best of luck with YOUR journey as well!
You're on my prayer list!
 

Bala

Veteran member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: SJPdP-Burgos, (2015); Burgos-Sarria (2018); Sarria-Santiago (2018).
Frances (2020)
Great news, Annie! And a doctor you trust and like, too. Prayers continue 🙏 for continued good news. 💝
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Keep walking and kick its ass!!
Funny you'd say that!
Years ago, I was working in a local hospital in the oncology ward.
I realized right away, watching patients, that cancer is a mean machine and in order to beat it you have to be meaner than it! You also have to be positive!

I DO plan on kicking its ass.
I want another 30 years of this awesome life!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017), LePuy(2019)
Thank you for starting my day with very good news. May more good news come your way and on your way. BTW, how did you do with New Balance insoles? I saw you mentioned trainers, but not insoles. Which NB shoes? :)
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Funny you'd say that!
Years ago, I was working in a local hospital in the oncology ward.
I realized right away, watching patients, that cancer is a mean machine and in order to beat it you have to be meaner than it! You also have to be positive!

I DO plan on kicking its ass.
I want another 30 years of this awesome life!
Who knows maybe more!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Thank you for starting my day with very good news. May more good news come your way and on your way. BTW, how did you do with New Balance insoles? I saw you mentioned trainers, but not insoles. Which NB shoes? :)
I LOVE the New Balance Motion Control inserts for my feet.
However, I was sad to find out New Balance has discontinued them.
So I'm going to search the internet for a pair today.
If I can't find them in my size, I"ll wear the ones I have which I just bought in August.

I bought the same shoes this year as last year.
I love shoes on an SL-2 shoe last.
They have a narrow heel and a very wide, deep toe box.
This year, I think it was the 840v4.
I'll look later and update if that's wrong (they're upstairs right now)
They are running shoes, not trail shoes, but I love them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Who knows maybe more!
Very possibly!
I had several aunts who made it past 100.
One lived to be 105 and was active up until the day she fell, broke her hip and they refused to let her go back home, which broke her spirit . :(
That did her in, not the broken hip.
I've always been a little P.O.'d about that.
They should have let her go home. She was cooking, and cleaning, and doing just fine up til then.
 

Ernesto.IT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
So for those who are interested I had my 2nd Opinion appointment today with Dr. Nathalie Johnson.
It began on a VERY positive note, when I got lost and a kind lady helped me find the office, telling me SHE had gone through breast cancer 2 years ago and that "You're lucky to see her! She is the BEST of the BEST!" I've heard that over and over the past few weeks.

Anyway.. long story short, she first told me to "go walk the Camino! It will help you! "
She told me she didn't feel this is an aggressive cancer at all (different from the 1st opinion) which eased my mind.
She prescribed a drug, Letrozol to "starve the cancer" and cause the tumor to shrink while I walk. I've since discovered that Letrozol IS a type of oral chemotherapy - so I'm processing that.

I must decide in the next two days if I will have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy upon my return in April.

I'm leaning toward the double mastectomy (DM) with no reconstruction,
because I am 67, not 30, and really just want this to be over.

With a DM I would need NO chemo, NO radiation, with only a 1% chance of recurrence.

With a Lumpectomy, I would have to have several radioactive drugs intravenously, and would definitely have to have radiation afterwards for 4 weeks and I'm just not willing to put my body through that. In addition, the radiation itself can cause cancer. And after all that I'd still have a 4% chance of recurrence.

I feel my best chances of just getting on with life is to have the DM so that's where I'm leaning.

So.. I LOVED this doctor, and walked out happy.
She promised, by the way, to sing me to sleep during the surgery (she's known for that)

I'm still not feeling any fear, except for fear of the medication - it's strange, this journey - not sure why I need it, but here it is.

I have genetic testing on the 17th, then fly to Palm Springs to pick up Joe, then on to Madrid on May 4.
I'll start on the Frances, and depending on how tired the meds make me, may drop down to the VDLP if I feel like it.

HOORAY!
Hope to see some of you on the trail!
PS: Stopped by New Balance and picked up my new trail shoes today also! It was a good day!

Note from the mods. For part I of Annie’s story, go here. Part II is here.
Hi Anniesantiago, so glad you are keeping your spirit up and that you are making the right decision, I am sure James will look after you on the camino as HE did with me. I was 58 when I was diagnose prostate cancer and I had to choose if to live with it and to die with it or to let them remove the prostate and live practically castrate, I decide for the later one.
Since I have walked all the different camino and (keeping my finger cross) it has not come back. I am now 73, walked over 13.000Km since and this April I will try to. walk from John O Groats to Rome, again to pay my respect to Peter.
Hope to see you around so we can compere notes.
Buen Camino Pilgrim.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Cam Frances SJPDP to Santiago ('17): Finisterre ('17); Muxia ('17): Camino Portuguese ('19)
So good to hear from you with an update and the immediate course of action from a health care provider you trust, and find comfort and connection. Her encouragement to hit the Camino has to be the best medicine as part of the first course of action...a gift if you will. You’ll have a force from this forum surrounding you with love and well wishes every step of your way. My very best to you Annie!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Hi Anniesantiago, so glad you are keeping your spirit up and that you are making the right decision, I am sure James will look after you on the camino as HE did with me. I was 61 when I was diagnose prostate cancer and I had to choose if to live with it and to die with it or to let them remove the prostate and live practically castrate, I decide for the later one.
Since I have walked all the different camino and (keeping my finger cross) it has not come back. I am now 73, walked over 13.000Km since and this April I will try to. walk from John O Groats to Rome, again to pay my respect to Peter.
Hope to see you around so we can compere notes.
Buen Camino Pilgrim.
Thanks Ernesto!
Happy to meet another warrior!
Buen Camino to you!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Funny you'd say that!
Years ago, I was working in a local hospital in the oncology ward.
I realized right away, watching patients, that cancer is a mean machine and in order to beat it you have to be meaner than it! You also have to be positive!

I DO plan on kicking its ass.
I want another 30 years of this awesome life!
This one I have to reply to. Almost 20 years ago I returned to the scene of a crime: a second chance learning centre where I had worked before, and am still doing a little bit of work there. Anyway, two lovely women were recovering from treatment from cancer. They are still trotting around, against the odds, because their attitude would match yours: so positive, so upbeat. It is not easy to say what turns the tables, but certainly it has to help if you refuse, as you are doing, to turn your face to the wall. You know you have a candle with your name on it, Annie.
 

Carol06

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2012)
Frances (May 2015) all going well and with my husband this time.
So for those who are interested I had my 2nd Opinion appointment today with Dr. Nathalie Johnson.
It began on a VERY positive note, when I got lost and a kind lady helped me find the office, telling me SHE had gone through breast cancer 2 years ago and that "You're lucky to see her! She is the BEST of the BEST!" I've heard that over and over the past few weeks.

Anyway.. long story short, she first told me to "go walk the Camino! It will help you! "
She told me she didn't feel this is an aggressive cancer at all (different from the 1st opinion) which eased my mind.
She prescribed a drug, Letrozol to "starve the cancer" and cause the tumor to shrink while I walk. I've since discovered that Letrozol IS a type of oral chemotherapy - so I'm processing that.

I must decide in the next two days if I will have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy upon my return in April.

I'm leaning toward the double mastectomy (DM) with no reconstruction,
because I am 67, not 30, and really just want this to be over.

With a DM I would need NO chemo, NO radiation, with only a 1% chance of recurrence.

With a Lumpectomy, I would have to have several radioactive drugs intravenously, and would definitely have to have radiation afterwards for 4 weeks and I'm just not willing to put my body through that. In addition, the radiation itself can cause cancer. And after all that I'd still have a 4% chance of recurrence.

I feel my best chances of just getting on with life is to have the DM so that's where I'm leaning.

So.. I LOVED this doctor, and walked out happy.
She promised, by the way, to sing me to sleep during the surgery (she's known for that)

I'm still not feeling any fear, except for fear of the medication - it's strange, this journey - not sure why I need it, but here it is.

I have genetic testing on the 17th, then fly to Palm Springs to pick up Joe, then on to Madrid on May 4.
I'll start on the Frances, and depending on how tired the meds make me, may drop down to the VDLP if I feel like it.

HOORAY!
Hope to see some of you on the trail!
PS: Stopped by New Balance and picked up my new trail shoes today also! It was a good day!

Note from the mods. For part I of Annie’s story, go here. Part II is here.
That all sounds so sensible and positive. Go girl!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF September (2019) SJPP to Logrono
CF May/June (2020) Logrono to ? (Delayed)
Eh!, What do you mean "For those of you who are interested?" Oh my goodness, we are ALL very interested, we are all shouting out for you, timidly opening your post to find out how you are doing.

You are very positive, no doubt inspiring too, with the way you are dealing with this and approaching it - I'm definitely impressed by you 😘

You get my vote ✔
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021" ... (GOD WILLING!)
After so many good wishes, what can I add?
I guess the very-Camino word comes to mind - ULTREIA!!! Go ABOVE AND BEYOND!!!!!
👍
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
... Madrid on May 4.

I'll start on the Frances...
Hope to see some of you on the trail!
Annie I’ll be in Roncesvalles on the 6 May 🚶🏼‍♀️😁🥾

... unlike me who has to shout things from the rooftops! 🤣 )

Buen Camino!
But don’t forget that your words are now here for others to read... the quiet ones that need to hear voices like yours... the strength and courage and positivity... it will help to get them through their first days and weeks ❤

Bravo Annie and so glad the news is so good ... Buen Camino pilgrim ❤
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
chilling news but good to hear that you are in able hands...

All the best
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
I'm really grateful for all the support I've gotten here.
I'm also blown away by how many pilgrims have traveled this same road, silently, (unlike me who has to shout things from the rooftops! 🤣 ) and all of the great advice I've gotten from those with experience. I can't thank you all enough.

Buen Camino!
Shout if you need to ! " What cannot be put to words, can not be put to rest", so if you need to say it out loud to make peace with it all...I, and many others are listening.
I like your new second opinion. And I like your tentative plan of starving that beast then pulling it the hell out of your body. I've done the same. It doesn't belong inside of you and needs to go. If it's any support, I got rid of it too ( although at a younger age, had a tiny bit of non-artificial reconstruction ) If it were today, I'd say the hell with it...backpacks fit better!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Annie I’ll be in Roncesvalles on the 6 May 🚶🏼‍♀️😁🥾



But don’t forget that your words are now here for others to read... the quiet ones that need to hear voices like yours... the strength and courage and positivity... it will help to get them through their first days and weeks ❤

Bravo Annie and so glad the news is so good ... Buen Camino pilgrim ❤
Oh! Maybe we can have coffee in Pamplona or Puente la Reina?
I arrive in Pamplona on the 5th - will stay two nights and start walking (slow) on the 7th. I bet you'll pass me!
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
Oh! Maybe we can have coffee in Pamplona or Puente la Reina?
I arrive in Pamplona on the 5th - will stay two nights and start walking (slow) on the 7th. I bet you'll pass me!
I would love that ❤ I hope we can. I’m walking to Estella... so a fair few days where our paths can cross. I’ll be sticking pretty much to the stages. I can keep in touch ... fingers crossed. X
 

laineylainey

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
started in 2012, hooked ever since.
So pleased you are keeping us in the "news loop",Annie. l personally feel a bit concerned when the updates don't appear. I also admire your courage about your decision about a DM. Having never been in your situation, I wouldn't consider it appropriate to comment. Only you can decide what looks, feels, sounds best for you. What is great in the meantime are the doctors and information you are receiving as well as the advice and stories from other very brave forum members. But it is still your decision, your journey. Please continue to show the rest of us by your story, how grateful we should be, moment to moment, day to day, thank you so that.
 

Delphinoula

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino PdC 2018 Finisterre Muxía 2018
C Franconia 2019
Camino desde Algeciras Sevillia (2019)
All the best you brave ones out there.

If you have no words I will talk for you.
If you have no tears I will cry for you.
If you have no legs. I will walk for you.
If you have no song I will sing for you.
If you have no vision I will see for you.
So you see there is nothing you can not do, because I will be there for you.

A poem from my time when I served with patients.
 

Bagobev

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Lisbon to Santiago (2017)
So for those who are interested I had my 2nd Opinion appointment today with Dr. Nathalie Johnson.
It began on a VERY positive note, when I got lost and a kind lady helped me find the office, telling me SHE had gone through breast cancer 2 years ago and that "You're lucky to see her! She is the BEST of the BEST!" I've heard that over and over the past few weeks.

Anyway.. long story short, she first told me to "go walk the Camino! It will help you! "
She told me she didn't feel this is an aggressive cancer at all (different from the 1st opinion) which eased my mind.
She prescribed a drug, Letrozol to "starve the cancer" and cause the tumor to shrink while I walk. I've since discovered that Letrozol IS a type of oral chemotherapy - so I'm processing that.

I must decide in the next two days if I will have a lumpectomy or a mastectomy upon my return in April.

I'm leaning toward the double mastectomy (DM) with no reconstruction,
because I am 67, not 30, and really just want this to be over.

With a DM I would need NO chemo, NO radiation, with only a 1% chance of recurrence.

With a Lumpectomy, I would have to have several radioactive drugs intravenously, and would definitely have to have radiation afterwards for 4 weeks and I'm just not willing to put my body through that. In addition, the radiation itself can cause cancer. And after all that I'd still have a 4% chance of recurrence.

I feel my best chances of just getting on with life is to have the DM so that's where I'm leaning.

So.. I LOVED this doctor, and walked out happy.
She promised, by the way, to sing me to sleep during the surgery (she's known for that)

I'm still not feeling any fear, except for fear of the medication - it's strange, this journey - not sure why I need it, but here it is.

I have genetic testing on the 17th, then fly to Palm Springs to pick up Joe, then on to Madrid on May 4.
I'll start on the Frances, and depending on how tired the meds make me, may drop down to the VDLP if I feel like it.

HOORAY!
Hope to see some of you on the trail!
PS: Stopped by New Balance and picked up my new trail shoes today also! It was a good day!

Note from the mods. For part I of Annie’s story, go here. Part II is here.
At 67, I am a twenty year cancer survivor who also had DM without reconstruction. I have never regretted my decision. When asked about how I felt about losing both breasts I always replied, "It wasn't much fun but it is not like losing both hands." Everything is relative.

Just a tip in case you are interested: I have worn the typical, ridiculously expensive, silicone prosthetic breasts for years. I mean really, how can a pair of fake boobs and a bra cost $1000, insurance covers it but it is just gouging. But I digress.....I have found even the most light weight prosthetics to be hot and heavy. So after an extensive on line search I found very inexpensive light weight foam forms ( $10 a pair) and mastectomy bras from a company called Athleta and I am going to use them on my next camino. I find the bra and forms to be very comfortable and will likely never where silicone again. There is always the option of "going flat," a bit of a movement these days, but that looks better on some folks than others and is of course a personal decision.
I wish you well on your journey, your pilgrimage will fill your head with warm and happy thoughts, just what we all need.
 

Paula TO

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sarria to SdC 2018
Finisterre/Muxia 2019
Ingles 2020
CF SJPdP to SdC 2021
I’m not a frequent poster here, but just wanted to wish you well, Annie.

Like the previous poster, I too had a double mastectomy three years ago without reconstruction, and I have zero regrets. I am 53, and perhaps might have felt differently had I been in my thirties.

I had to wait a year after radiation before I could consider reconstruction, but by then I was used to being flat and content to stay that way. Especially when told that reconstruction on my radiated side would require taking some muscle from my back. And the implants would have to be replaced every 10 years. I was concerned that might affect future hikes, if I now had back pain as a result.

I didn’t bother buying silicone prosthetics, and just bought mastectomy bras that had gel and foam inserts. Then I worked my way down to a smaller cup, and now I just buy plain bras that have the place for foam padding to be inserted, and I put three bra pads in each side. It’s not sweaty, it’s lightweight, and just enough to make my clothes look less weird. Also, it’s a much more economical option.

I take Tamoxifen now, which had some side effects but all were manageable.

I wish you all the best. Buen Camino.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
At 67, I am a twenty year cancer survivor who also had DM without reconstruction. I have never regretted my decision. When asked about how I felt about losing both breasts I always replied, "It wasn't much fun but it is not like losing both hands." Everything is relative.

I wish you well on your journey, your pilgrimage will fill your head with warm and happy thoughts, just what we all need.
Thanks so much for your post.
It helps a LOT to hear from folks who have gone through this.
I love your quote and am going to steal it!
You are absolutely right, everything IS relative!

Regarding reconstruction, I won't do it.
I've pretty much decided to go flat and love it!
There is a group that makes "knitted knockers" for people- I may or may not try those, but I'm pretty much a minimalist at heart so probably will be more comfie just going flat.

I had a funny moment today when I worried whether or not the surgeon would miss the tumor if it shrinks while on Camino. It's not in the middle of my breast, but more under my arm right at the edge. I think I'm going to circle it with a felt pen to make sure she finds it! :😆:

Anyway, looking forward to getting over this danged flu I picked up and getting onto the Camino.
Thanks again for everyone's support.
Annie
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
I’m not a frequent poster here, but just wanted to wish you well, Annie.

Like the previous poster, I too had a double mastectomy three years ago without reconstruction, and I have zero regrets. I am 53, and perhaps might have felt differently had I been in my thirties.

I had to wait a year after reconstruction before I could consider reconstruction, but by then I was used to being flat and content to stay that way. Especially when told that reconstruction on my radiated side would require taking some muscle from my back. And the implants would have to be replaced every 10 years. I was concerned that might affect future hikes, if I now had back pain as a result.

I didn’t bother buying silicone prosthetics, and just bought mastectomy bras that had gel and foam inserts. Then I worked my way down to a smaller cup, and now I just buy plain bras that have the place for foam padding to be inserted, and I put three bra pads in each side. It’s not sweaty, it’s lightweight, and just enough to make my clothes look less weird. Also, it’s a much more economical option.

I take Tamoxifen now, which had some side effects but all were manageable.

I wish you all the best. Buen Camino.
Thanks Paula, for posting.
I'm shocked at how many women have taken this "journey!"
Zero regrets sound good and that's what my plan is!

I'm on Lazatrole for 5 years unless it begins bothering me but so far, so good.
I think I'll just go flat. I don't have to go to an office, and I don't go "out" so I think I'll be just fine.
Jeans and teeshirts are my go-to wear now, so that probably won't change.

If any of you who have had DMs have any after- or before-surgery advice for me, please PM me.
I've read a bit on forums - bought the comfie DM pillows for recovery, drain-pockets to hold the drains up, am looking at a foam wedge for sleeping, know I won't be able to drive for a couple of weeks, but am wondering more about things like how long until I can reach cupboards above my head or wear a backpack. I'll stay at my eldest son's house for a week - he's a surgical nurse, so can help with the drains.

Just one more doctor's appointment to have DNA testing before my Camino, then I'm off to Spain.
Looking forward to walking the gorgeous countryside, fresh squeezed OJ, and all those ensaladas mixtas!

Thanks to EVERYONE for their continued prayers and good wishes!
Annie
 

CaroleH

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2006, Portugues 2007;Madrid 2009, Finisterre 2009; Sur and VdlP 2011,2013; Manchego and Madrid 2014; VdlP (parts) 2016; Hospitalero plan 2017.
Buen camino Annie.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sept. 14 - Oct. 28/18 CF
All the best Annie, you seem to have done your homework and it sounds like you have the right doctor for you. The Camino will recharge your batteries and those vistas and the pilgrims around you will keep you grounded.

Take Care, Cathy

I am always a week late in my replies but get to things eventually.
 

Turnstone

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept/Oct 2020)
Dear Annie,
I am a new forum member, found your story while researching for my first Camino in September.
So I am another woman who went through breast cancer two years ago. After chemotherapy I needed to decide on a lumpectomy and radiaton or a mastectomy and went with the mastectomy. I would have done a double mastectomy and just go flat but health insurance didn't cover that, so I got instant reconstruction with a silicone implant.
One advice I can give you, try to find a good physiotherapist who works with you as soon as possible after surgery. I have my full range of motion back, but I met many women who didn't, mostly because they didn't get proper physiotherapy. I was able to walk around almost immediately after surgery, but it took about 2 months until I was able to carry a backpack again.
My best wishes for you. You seem to be a strong person so don't let this stop you from anything!
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Plain and simple........................Yeaaaaaaaaaaaa!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Quick Update:

The hematoma from my biopsy has gone completely down.
The Letrozole seems to be shrinking my tumor. I have to search for it now.
The only side effect so far is a bit of tiredness and occasional night sweats.
I can deal with that.
Surgery is still scheduled for April 23 - double mastectomy - once I return from the Camino

I am able to carry my pack with no problems (tried it out here in the desert)
We leave March 4 and will begin walking the VDLP from Zafra (where Joe left off) on March 7.
We've made reservations where we can and are REALLY getting excited about walking.

Praying for sunshine as I don't want to carry too much weight.

HOORAY!
See you on the trail!

PS: Also just (literally at 2 pm) got back results from my DNA test and results are all negative, which is a very good thing. Onco score is zero. Did I say that? I'm feeling pretty darned blessed!
 
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Paladina

old woman of the roads
Camino(s) past & future
CF, primitivo & del norte (2017); VdlP/Sanabres, ingles etc (2018), Mozarabe etc (2019), tbc (2020)
Great news, Annie, and a safe journey in the care of St James on the VdlP, and St George on his day!
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
You are some tough woman, Annie! If it is of any comfort, you are in my thoughts. The VdlP is a fantastic journey, as you know, having been there, as I too have.Enjoy without fear. I believe & hope all will be well for you.

Buen Camino & Ultreya!
 

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
WOW !!!!!!! Amazing how when you get so many like minded people in your corner to assist you in an endevour how things will usually work out for the best. Still in prayer !
 

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