Nadine-breast-cancer-treatment

How I Beat Breast Cancer: Nadine’s inspiring story

nadine-breast-cancerMy name is Nadine and I am a 31-year old woman who lives in Los Angeles, California. I decided to share my story to help, inform and encourage any cancer patient or anyone supporting one in this tough journey. I also want this post to serve as a means for others patients to find the best doctor for their specific case, for them. Here’s how my story goes…

In February 2016 I felt a lump in my breast. So I did the smart thing and had a routine check. I went to see my gynecologist, a wonderful doctor in Santa Monica.
When he examined me, at first he thought it is fibroids due to my age. He felt that it’s nothing serious, but thank God he did not rely on that. My gynecologist wanted to be sure so he scheduled a mammogram for me, followed by an ultra sound, which led to a biopsy. The result was Breast Cancer.

 

The C word. Devastating…

I felt that my life had ended.

As you can imagine, everybody in my life was in a shock state. At my age, just 31? How can that be? So the search for the solution started. In a matter of a few days with everybody’s help I was getting appointments with some of the top doctors in Los Angeles who specialize in breast cancer in some of the top cancer hospitals in the US. I also met with highly recommended cancer specialists at Cedar Sinai, where I was born.

So I went through the typical process. The standard steps you are that you are first seen by a surgeon, so I went to a top breast surgeon who said we have a big problem in the breast. He said that I had a 5 cm tumor in my breast and there is possibly some infected lymph nodes. He mentioned that we need to do mastectomy upfront, remove some of the lymph nodes which will affect my arm movement, possibly for life. We may have to possibly follow up with chemo depending on how the surgery goes. I was told I should schedule it as soon as possible.

I felt devastated with the news.

Getting a second opinion and a third one

I went to another top breast surgeon who said the exact same thing then a third one, who again gave me the same recommendation.

By this time I had seen three top, well-known surgeons who said the same thing: mastectomy and removing the surrounding lymph nodes, resulting into a potential problem with moving my arm. I got convinced that if I want to live that is what I had to do. No other choice. They also gave me recommendations for reconstructive surgeons and offered to help me set up appointments to see them as soon as possible.

Thank God we got in touch with Dr. Jabboury, a dear and very close friend of our family for the last 26 years.

Here’s how the history unfolded: We met Dr. Jabboury when he treated both my grandmothers. who unfortunately both had done prior treatment before going to him and it was too late to save them. Nevertheless, he treated them with amazing love and compassion till they passed away and he has been a part of our family ever since. He also saved my great aunt 24 years ago. My aunt now lives in Florida and has been cancer free for over 23 years!

Back to our my meeting with Dr Jabboury. His first question when we spoke was if a pet scan and a biopsy of the lymph nodes were done. He could not understand how anybody would conclude to surgery prior to knowing the extent of the problem. Is it localized or has it metastasized? The exact type of cancer and so on.

Anyway, I was able to convince one of the surgeons to order a pet scan and biopsy of the lymph nodes as per Dr. Jabboury’s recommendation. As a matter of fact, the cancer not only was a 5 cm tumor in my breast but it had spread to the lymph nodes and had metastasized to my liver.
Which meant I had stage 4 cancer.

breast-cancer-scan

The highlighted black spots is all cancer, I am sure you will agree that is a pretty scary picture.

Dr. Jabboury received my reports and scans and wanted me to immediately have a liver
biopsy done, along with other tests and told me that my best solution is chemo.
Aggressive, non-standard chemo.
That scared me to death.

Thank God he was extremely understanding that as much as I believed in him, I needed as many opinions as possible.

So since surgery was no longer an option the next step was that I had to go see Oncologists specializing in breast cancer. With a great effort of family members I was able to get appointments with 3 of the top known oncologists. All three recommended that hormone therapy would be my only option, that my cancer will never completely go away. When I told them that a good family friend who is an oncologist in Houston recommended aggressive chemo the response was that my cancer will not respond to it. Instead, they recommended trying to shrink it with hormones and some said possibly some light chemo which would work for a period of time. I had to be constantly under care to alter the medication as they stop working and once all hormones stop working then they would do chemotherapy to try to contain it. That basically meant for life.

No one told me, even when asked, what that meant. Would I live for months or years?
I could not get a straight answer or statistics based on actual data or trials. All three doctors believed that my cancer would not respond to chemo. Chemo would be a last option when hormone treatment would stop working.

Choosing the best oncologist for my breast cancer treatment

At this point, it was mid March I had seen and talked to eight specialists in total, had enough opinions and my decision had to be taken. My cancer was too aggressive to delay the decision any longer.

I had to choose between two extremely different options:

  • Standard treatment with hormones with which I could supposedly continue my life normally for an unknown period of time or
  • Multi agent Chemo treatments, which would require me to relocate from LA and to Houston for about 6 months or more. That basically meant stopping my life and expecting hair loss along with other horrible side effects we all know chemo causes, especially aggressive treatment for six months.

Then I started thinking about the quality of life I was going to have if I chose to do the standard treatment recommended by the three oncologists in LA. Supposedly I could continue my normal life as long as the treatment works, but would be going in and out of hospitals and clinics several times a month to do all kinds of tests and alter medications when they stop working. Besides I was told I might get some side effects.

Basically I would be living in fear wondering what is going on with my body. Is it working? Are they shrinking or are they not responding? Besides the side effects that go along with it.

Still having unanswered questions about my life expectancy doing the standard treatments, my family and I started researching to find out data on survival rates with standard conventional treatments for stage 4 breast cancer. The data was very scary.

According to the American Cancer Society breast cancers that have spread to other parts of the body are more difficult to treat and tend to have a poorer outlook. Metastatic or Stage 4 breast cancers have a 5-year relative survival rate of about 22%. Which means 78% don’t survive over five years.

Many thanks to my family members who made me realize that this is not a joke. It is a matter of life and death. I decided that if I am going to do something I was going to beat this thing aggressively and get it over with. And the only person who will do this is Dr. Jabboury “The Cancer Killer”.

The decision was made.

 

breast-cancer-treatment-houston

 

I decided Houston is my answer. To many peoples’ surprise when they heard I was not moving to Houston to go to a top cancer center, I was going to go to Dr. Jabboury. Choosing to go to an oncologist at the West Houston Medical Center got a lot of raised eyebrows.

happy-after-breast-cancerMy mom and I packed our bags, flew to Houston and drove from the airport to Dr. Jabboury’s office. As soon as I saw his face, and got his loving hug I knew I was in safe hands. If anybody can save my life he can.

I can tell you it was the best decision I have ever made.

In 5 months of treatments my pet scans are clean.
No signs of cancer anywhere.
Look at my pet scans. What it was on February the 7th and what it is on September the 7th after receiving chemo for 5 months.

The breast mass started shrinking very quickly after starting chemotherapy – therefore no surgery was needed.

Besides the incredible unheard of results, I was taken care of with compassion and professionalism by Dr. Jabboury, his staff and any of his recommended doctors who performed different required procedures for me.

 

A note from Cancerdocs

Dr. Jabboury is a member of the Cancerdocs panel and provides help online to any cancer patient from the USA or abroad. He also helps patient get the best treatment for their case. Cancerdocs allows you to talk to the best oncologists in the world online, get their advice and arrange treatment.

 

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