Meet Betty, a new voice in our blog series. Betty is using this blog to take us on her jouney through breast cancer and her need for calcium.
I am an older woman who has never written a blog and who has only read one blog in the past. I never even considered the possibility of writing about myself. However, at the suggestion of a good friend, I’ve decided that what I have to say might be of interest to some.
Shortly after graduating from college, I started working for the U.S. Department of State in New York. I transferred to the headquarters office in Washington about three years later. I worked in the Bureau of Consular Affairs Office of Overseas Citizens Services which provides assistance to U.S. citizens traveling or residing overseas. This includes non-emergency and emergency services.For example, helping people register the birth of a child abroad, issuing a passport, visiting Americans who have been arrested and making certain they have legal representation. The office was also responsible for advising Americans of potential threats to their safety and security overseas. The days were often long and could be stressful, but they were also rewarding because of the help we were giving.
Outside of work, I had always tried to keep active but became more dedicated.I took up running and did some weight training. I tried to run about 4 to 5 days a week and workout 2 to 3 times a week. I was in good shape. I was fit and in good health (excellent blood pressure and cholesterol readings).
In the fall of 1989, I went back to school to get my Masters Degree in Education. I continued to work at the State Department, using my vacation time/leave for things like student teaching, and remained with the State Department until 2005. I started my teaching career during the 2005-2006 school year. I was an Assistant Teacher my first year and then got my own class the next year. I retired, from this position in August 2014.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 Inflammatory Breast Cancer in April 2010. It is a very aggressive cancer. I have a family history of breast cancer and have been religious about going for yearly physical check-ups and mammograms. So, I was surprised when I found a lump about 6 months after a mammogram and devastated at the news and how quickly the lump grew in the course of 2 weeks. I had a mastectomy and 4 lymph nodes were removed. Prior to the mastectomy, I had chemotherapy treatment; and after the surgery, I had radiation therapy. My cancer was determined to be estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. About a week after my mastectomy, I started to take anastrozole which works to decrease the amount of estrogen the body makes.
I had gone through menopause about 4 years prior to my diagnosis. I was not taking hormone replacement therapy. Rather, I was on a “drug” that was considered to be beneficial for good bone health in post menopausal women and which had proven in trials to decrease the risk of breast cancer. In addition, I started taking calcium and vitamin D3 supplements. I have been using Cal-EZ as my supplement for calcium and Vitamin D3 for about 3 years. It’s easy to take because it comes in powdered form. I stir it into my coffee every morning and don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.
I am hoping that my voice will help others who have been diagnosed with cancer. It is amazing how all the doctors and the entire oncology staff are always caring and constantly work to make you comfortable. I will be talking about my feelings of desperation and despair after receiving the initial diagnosis. I also will talk about the tremendous amount of support I received from my siblings, my colleagues, and my friends. This support helped me to think about things other than my health. I know these people helped me to be the survivor I am.
Disclosure: I am not compensated for writing this blog. Any opinion I express about Cal-EZ is my own.
Editor’s note: Betty has fought estrogen receptor positive breast cancer or ER+ breast cancer. There are different types of treatment for this type of cancer. One treatment for this type of cancer is an estrogen receptor antagonist (like tamoxifen). An estrogen receptor antagonist blocks the effect of estrogen in many tissues, including the breast. However, in premenopausal women, tamoxifen thins the bone. Another treatment for this type of cancer is an aromatase inhibitor (like Femara or Arimidex). These treatments block the production of estrogen in body leading to possible bone loss. Any time bone loss occurs, calcium is recommended to help stop or reverse the loss.
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