"I was declared cancer free on April 3, 2018. It was like a re-birthday!"
I am Megan Ludlow. I was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal adenocarcinoma on May 19, 2017. Five months to the day after I turned 33.
After my diagnosis, I met with a team of doctors at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, MD. We decided that I was going to have a lumpectomy and surgery was scheduled. But, my breast surgeon wanted to do another biopsy. After that biopsy my surgeon and oncologist decided I was a candidate for chemotherapy before surgery.
On July 12, 2017 I started my first of 16 IV chemo treatments. Prior to that I had my port put in, which was the first major surgery of my entire life.
I finished IV chemo on November 22, 2017. Throughout my entire chemo journey, I was hospitalized once with a neutropenic fever. Basically my white blood cell count was too low and a fever spiked. To ensure that I didn't have an infection, I was hospitalized and monitored for three days. It was my first ever hospital stay.
I started losing my hair shortly after my first treatment. Since cancer patients don't have much control over what happens to our bodies, I decided to shave my head (picture attached). It was quite freeing. I knew that I was going to lose my head hair. But I did not realize I would also lose my nose hairs, eyebrows, eyelashes, pubic hair, armpit hair... basically any hair on my body was gone!
After chemo, my tumor had only shrunk by 0.2 cm, so it was decided that I'd have a unilateral mastectomy of my left breast. On December 14, 2017 (five days before my 34 birthday), I had my left breast, along with 17 lymph nodes removed.
This type of surgery requires you to have drains to help drain any fluid that builds up while your body is healing. I was released from the hospital the next day and my husband took me and my two drains hanging out of my body home for recovery. I had to empty the drains every day and also record the amount of fluid and material coming from them.
I had my drains until December 26, 2017 when I met with my surgeon for a followup. He removed my drains in his office and it really wasn't all that painful. He was happy with the way my scar was healing.
The pathology of my left breast showed that there were still some residual cancer cells left. So next up was radiation.
My radiation consultation was on January 11, 2018 which was also the tenth anniversary of my Dad passing away from renal cell carcinoma. I started radiation (going 5 days a week) on January 23, 2018 which is also the day my grandmother passed away (that morning). I finished radiation on March 8, 2018 (this also happened to be the day my husband and I started dating 11 years prior) after 33 treatments. My skin was burnt to a crisp and basically falling off.
After radiation, I spoke with my oncologist about taking xeloda which is an oral chemo pill. I started taking that on April 4, 2018. I took eight cycles which was two weeks on, one week off, 2,000 mg a day. I took my last xeloda pills on September 25, 2018.
Even though I opted to take the xeloda, I was declared cancer free on April 3, 2018. It was like a re-birthday!
I am now officially finished with treatment and will be monitored by my oncologist every three months. At the time of surgery, I hadn't decided on whether or not I want to have reconstruction. I have since decided that I like being flat and have opted to not have reconstruction. My husband left the choice up to me and he's happy with my decision.
This has been quite the journey, but I've had a great support system and am proud to have beaten the disease that has taken so many people from me.
One of my friends saw your "I'm just a bad chick with a bald head, living life" shirt and was like you need this!
So I bought it for myself as a testament to my journey. I have also decided that I like my hair buzzed, so I plan to pretty much stay "bald."