Reliving the moment at the hospital

This entry was written by Jackie Roth, PhD. Jackie is a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was diagnosed with Stage III A breast cancer at the age of 28. Every other Friday, throughout the entire year of 2011, Jackie will share a blog entry about her breast cancer experience. This year-long blog series is in honor of LBBC’s 20th anniversary.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

The type of breast cancer that I had was estrogen receptor positive, so I’ve been taking Tamoxifen and Zoladex since March of this year.  I actually started these two treatments on my past birthday so that in two years when I’ve completed the Zoladex and five years when I’ve completed the Tamoxifen  it will be like a nice birthday present to myself!

 Zoladex, which acts in the same manner as Lupron, essentially shuts down your ovaries from making estrogen.  From what my doctors have said, there aren’t really any studies showing the effects of ovarian suppression in combination with Tamoxifen for estrogen receptor positive cancers.  But, lowering the amount of estrogen in my body seemed to make sense to me as far as my treatment goes so I decided to go ahead and get the Zoladex shots. 

So this past Monday I went in for my Zoladex injection first thing in the morning like usual.  Zoladex, however, is not just any ordinary shot!  It is actually a little pill that they implant under your skin into your abdomen.  The needle is huge because it has to be able to pass this pill through it!  Although the shot is very painful, I’ve never had a bad reaction to it, until this last time. 

As soon as the needle went into my abdomen, I felt a sharp shooting pain on my right side, as if something stabbed my kidney (which I know is not possible given the size of the needle, but that’s what it felt like).  I could not stand up, I could barely move.  After about 30 minutes of trying to recover, my husband could see that I was still in pain, so they decided to send me over to the emergency room. 

The emergency room doctors thought I had either a kidney stone or an abdominal hematoma, which is just like a large bruise filled with blood at the injection site.  I was given a CT scan and luckily everything was normal.  The pain resolved on its own and after a few more hours I was sent home. 

Just being in the emergency room brought me back to about a year ago right after my diagnosis when I was in and out of the emergency room for so many different reasons.  Once I fainted after getting my port put in, so that sent me to the ER.  Another time my white blood cell count was so low that again I landed another night in the ER.  After my first chemotherapy the side effects were so intense that I had to take a trip to the ER.  And I’m sure there are some trips that I am forgetting about too. 

Luckily, this past week instead of waiting in the waiting room for hours, I was taken back within five minutes of arriving, actually skipping triage and going directly to a private room.  Sometimes, I think just saying the words “I am an oncology patient” gets you a fast pass around the hospitals.  I’m on the road to recovery now. Chemotherapy is behind me, radiation is behind me, and just before last week, I really thought I was done with things like spontaneous trips to the ER… 

Do you, like Jackie, relive your breast cancer diagnosis anytime you make a trip to the hospital – whether it’s an emergency or a general physical exam? Join the discussion here or on our Facebook page.

To read Jackie’s previous entries, enter “ Jackie Roth” in the search box on this site.

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