Breast Cancer Survivor


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Thank you everyone for your thoughts, prayers, messages, understanding It has meant a lot to me.

Breast Cancer Medical Bills – GoFundMe Page for Rachel

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. You can read about my journey and see some of my videos here.

Luckily, it was was caught early but the surgeries and chemo had a negative effect of my body. I’m still dealing with long term side effects.

Also, the doctors visits and scans continue regularly. I still have checkups with my oncologists, gynecological oncologist, rheumatologist, breast surgeon, and family doctor. A hysterectomy is in my near future because I am BRCA1+.

Even with insurance the bills add up. Yes, we were able to take advantage of the Affordable Care Act and get insurance, but I have high deductibles. In network is $6000 per person and out of network is the same. Most likely we will come close to, or even surpass the decuctibles this year.

My goal is to raise $12,000 to cover my medical costs this year. Anything over that amount will be donated to local non-profits here in Austin that have helped us along the way.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and maybe even donate.

– Rachel

If you would like to be updated on my progress and find out more information about cancer and cancer treatments continue to check here for the latest posts about cancer.

Want to talk? Skype with me,  a Young Breast Cancer Survivor in Austin, Texas.

Even with insurance it’s amazing how much everything ending up costing from doctor’s visits to medicine. We had additional expenses for help from babysitters to housecleaning since many days I was not able to do everything.

I’m a young adult, mom, breast cancer survivor living in Austin, Texas.  Here are some of my breast cancer updates and videos.

  • 9/30/10 – My Cancerversary (1 Year after diagnosis) Video and Giveaway
  • 7/1/10 – Breast Cancer Update – 6 Months Later (pic)
  • 4/26/10 – Breast Cancer Reconstruction after Double Mastectomy (video)
  • 4/7/10 - Breast Cancer Update April 2010 w/ pics
  • 2/26/10 – Light at the End of the Tunnel w/ pics
  • 2/15/10 – Breast Cancer Update (video) – Done with Chemo, Now What?
  • 1/23/10 – Dallas Doctors
  • 1/7/10 – Appointment with the Oncologist
  • 12/31/09 Last Chemo and Video
  • 12/30/09 – Getting Ready for Chemo #4
  • 12/27/09 – Still Recovering from Chemo and Video
  • 12/10/09 Chemo #3 and Video
  • 12/1/09 -Sleep… Finally and Video
  • 11/19/09 – Chemo #2 and Video
  •  11/17/09 – Wigs and Makeup
  •  11/10/09 – Video Update – My Breast Cancer Story – Diagnosis to Chemo
  •  10/30/09 – The Beginning of Chemo
  •  10/15/09 – Good News After Surgery
  •  10/10/09 -€œ Post Surgery

************ For those of you that don’t know what’s going on read here… otherwise skip to the next section. A few weeks ago I noticed a lump. A few different doctors all thought it was just a cyst. My ob/gyn said to wait a few weeks and see if it went away. Since breast cancer runs in the family, my parents insisted I get it checked out sooner. I went to have the cyst aspirated (drained), but when it wouldn’t drain a biopsy was done. Even then, the surgeon said not to worry, it was probably just tissue that needed to be removed. To everyone’s surprise, I got the dreaded news on Friday, September 25. All they knew at that point was that the lump was cancerous. Other test results were still pending. We were able to get an appointment with a top breast surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Thursday 10/1. So, we all made the trip to Dallas for what we thought would just be a consultation. We had a very long day that Thursday. We met with various doctors. I had a lot of tests done. We were very impressed with everything and decided to go ahead and have surgery in Dallas. The cancer was only on one side, but we (and the doctors) decided the best thing in my case was to have a double mastectomy. I most likely have the BRCA1 gene mutation which gives me a 50% chance of getting cancer again on the other side. Since I’m young (31) they said just going ahead with that surgery (rather than just a lumpectomy) would give me peace of mind for the future. They were able to quickly fit me in for surgery on Monday (10/5). So, 10 days after getting the bad news I was at the hospital having the surgery. I am glad we got things moving so quickly. *********** If you have any questions, want to talk, or know someone in my similar situation please leave a comment or email me. Rachel facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestrssyoutubeinstagram

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  • Kelly Mahmoud December 15, 2010, 11:32 am Reply

    Hi Rachel,
    When do you think Google will get your blog up and running? I have a friend, age 39, who had a double mastectomy on 12/2 and would really benefit from your wonderful blog. She has 2 young boys and is a teacher here in Austin. Thank you for sharing your experience and helping so many.
    Kelly

    • Cha Ching Queen December 15, 2010, 10:50 pm Reply

      I’m working on it. Who knows how long Google will take. This is really frustrating. Please have your friend email me or leave a comment on here. I’d love to get in touch with her. How is she doing?

  • Lisa March 30, 2011, 7:00 am Reply

    Hi,
    I just came across you on youtube, and I think you are an amazing woman. I recently had a bilateral double masectomy, and I am now “Under construction” I found your video so informing. I am right now with tissue exapanders, and I may go for one more expansion. I was wondering you said you were at 325 cc. what bra size is that. I know it seems like a silly question, it’s just i dnt know whether to go for the extra 25 cc or stay where i am.. thanks again for your info. Lisa

    • Cha Ching Queen April 1, 2011, 10:19 pm Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      thanks for stopping by. Sorry you have to go through this too.

      For me, 325 put me at about a 34c or 32D. I’m still on the small size. I was around a 34b naturally before all of this and wanted to stay close to the same size.

      Hope you are feeling ok. Keep me posted on what you decide.

      Rachel

  • Jamie October 6, 2011, 3:23 am Reply

    Are you in remission now?

    I have/had cancer, and I am waiting on the news of whether I am in remission yet or not. I had a BMT and several doses of chemo + radiation, and surgeries to repair what the treatments tore apart.

    Possibly the hardest thing I went through was my lack of support. People online called me a “drug addict” when I posted of needing pain medicine. Before that, they commented that I was “abusing my kids” because I couldn’t spend hours cleaning house as I did when I was 19 or 20 or 21. That lack of support really angered me.

    I hope you’re doing better!

  • Cha Ching Queen March 30, 2012, 4:30 pm Reply

    Jamie,
    I’m so sorry you are going through that. Please keep me updated.

    How are you?

  • Lynis February 9, 2013, 6:57 pm Reply

    Hi Cha Ching Queen,

    I was fortunate enough to come across your amazing and inspirational video on YouTube.

    My name is Lynis and I am the Founder & CEO of New Day, New Smile.® (NDNS) apparel.

    NDNS is an apparel company featuring t-shirts with inspirational designs for Children, Women and Men.

    NDNS is a new and small company, but with a BIG heart!! I would love to send you a FREE inspirational t-shirt called “Will To Live – Conquering Breast Cancer”. You can view the inspirational t-shirt via our website by going to http://www.newdaynewsmile.com.

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me at 1.646.200.5090 ext.263 (local number), 1-800-883-8953 ext.263 (toll free number) or via e-mail.

    Again, thank you for sharing your amazing and inspirational video and I wish you all the best!!!

  • Heather February 11, 2013, 9:47 am Reply

    Hi Rachel, I found your videos on YouTube and found that your situation is very similar to mine. On Feb 1, I was diagnosed with stage 1, grade 3 invasive breast cancer. My lump is above my right breast, not in it. I am awaiting my BRCA results as breast cancer does not run in my family, to determine which surgery I will have (although I am seriously considering double mastectomy with reconstruction.) I would like to chat with you and ask some questions if you have the time. Also, I am in Tyler, Texas and in good hands with the Trinity Mother Frances and Texas Oncology staff.

    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Heather

    • Cha Ching Queen February 13, 2013, 9:12 pm Reply

      Hi Heather,

      Sorry to hear that you are in the same boat. I sent you an email. Let me know when you’d like to talk.

      Rachel

  • Chris February 13, 2013, 9:04 pm Reply

    Thank you for your informative videos. I’m scheduled to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction march 21. I had breast cancer 7 years ago and had a lumpectomy. I have a genetic mutation that has not yet been identified, so they basically do not know if I have the breast cancer gene or not. I had my ovaries removed after chemo, but have hesitated on getting a mastectomy until having a scare last summer. After a routine breast MRI a lump was found in the same breast. Within 8 days I had another lumpectomy and had the results it was benign. I’m not sure I could go through that stress again so I’m moving forward. Watching your video was comforting to me tonight when I’m still wondering if I’m doing the right thing. Like you I had two small children when I was diagnosed (18 months and 4). I went through 8 rounds of chemo and thirty days of radiation. I know I want to do everything I can to avoid that again.
    Chris

    • Cha Ching Queen February 13, 2013, 9:13 pm Reply

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for commenting. If you have any questions let me know. Good luck and let me know how it goes. I’m sorry you had a scare last summer.

      thanks, Rachel

  • Linda LaTona April 6, 2013, 12:17 pm Reply

    I have recently had a double mastectomy with expanders incerted. Not doing well. There are several things that I would like to ask you but do not know how to get you on your e-mail. Please e-mail your address to me. Thank you. ~~Linda

    • Cha Ching Queen July 14, 2013, 11:59 am Reply

      Hi Linda,

      Sorry for the delay. I missed this comment somehow. You can email me at rachelcaron at hotmail dot com.

  • Tanyis brunscheon July 11, 2013, 8:32 pm Reply

    Wanted to thank you for the you tube video, I found it while researching bi lateral mastectomy’s. like you I have triple negative brca1 breast cancer. Just finished chemo and on July 22 will have surgery with expanders. I also need to have an additional surgery- a hystiractomy. Thanks again for sharing your story, I hope you are well.
    Tanyis

    • Cha Ching Queen July 14, 2013, 11:58 am Reply

      Congrats on finishing chemo. Keep me posted on your surgery.

      Glad I could help.

      Rachel

  • Sarah July 13, 2013, 9:25 pm Reply

    I found your videos extremely helpful when I was first diagnosed in February 2013. I just finished my fourth round of taxotere/cytoxan and I see you only did four as well. I am triple negative 1.9 cm no node involvement. Most people are saying I should have six treatments and I was wondering if you could tell me why you only had four. My oncologist originally said four to six but the side effects have been pretty bad. Were six treatments ever mentioned to you? Thank you very much for your help.

    • Cha Ching Queen July 14, 2013, 11:56 am Reply

      Hi Sarah,

      Congrats on finishing chemo!

      I was only given the option of 4 rounds. I had a pretty bad reaction to the taxotere and probably couldn’t have done anymore anyway. They had to lower the dose on my last round.

      Hope that helps. Keep me posted.

      Rachel

  • Amy December 1, 2013, 5:04 pm Reply

    The beginning of my story is exactly the same as yours. I’m ++- and was very lucky and didn’t need chemo. I had a double mastectomy but one of my expanders got infected and had to be removed. I’m having it put back in February and fouls get permanent in May. Hope you’re doing well!

  • Heather Pontruff December 5, 2013, 7:47 am Reply

    Your courage and strength is awesome! Thankfully, in Austin you have some of the top hospitals! I hope you stay cancer free

  • Latina S. January 8, 2014, 9:21 am Reply

    Thank you for helping us save money. Sharing your story helps me and other young women who are going though breast cancer treatments. Military women need to know about your awesome ways to save money. The breast cancer rates among military women are present. I would love to share your site with my community.
    Best,
    Latina

  • Susan Hamrick January 20, 2014, 3:51 pm Reply

    Just wanted to say thank you for your blog and videos. I am BRACA 2 positive and had a bilateral mastectomy even before I got the genetic testing back. I believe in moving right on. The thing was, my mom and two of her sisters have had breast cancer-so I pretty much knew it had to be genetic and basically did want to go ahead and do both at the same time. I am now halfway through chemo and can recommend the cold cap therapy to keep hair loss to a minimum-I’ve only lost about 50% and that is just in the crown of my head. The eyelashes are gone……but that is ok. They should come back. I have a younger sister who is also positive-and she is going to have her ovaries removed this summer and get MRI’s of her breasts. I just wish my physicians had listened to me. I pushed for closer monitoring but could not get the testing ordered. So, now I am the squeaking wheel that doesn’t stop. Please make sure that you tell people to go and get more opinions if they need it. I made them jump throuh hoops to get my testing done and surgery scheduled and performed. I just stated that delays were not acceptable and that patient relations would hear about this. And I asked them, what they would do if it were them.
    So keep the info coming, thanks for all of it. Can’t wait to get rid of the plastic kevlar vest feeling and get some natural type feeling in the chest again.

  • Shauna January 20, 2014, 7:33 pm Reply

    Hi Rachel,

    I came across your story on Facebook and was struck by some of the similarities in our stories. So when I went to your blog and found out that you are not only a young breast cancer survivor, a BRCA gene mutation carrier, a mom, but also a huge fan of savings and coupons I just had to reach out.

    I found out I was a BRCA II gene mutation carrier in 2009 at the age of 30 and started getting mammograms and pelvic sonograms as a high risk patient. This past May at the age of 34 (2013) a routine mammogram detected my breast cancer and a biopsy on my left breast confirmed early state breast cancer in two places within the same breast about week later. My mindset was a little different in that I thought that because I knew I was high risk and was being proactive I would be spared ever receiving an actual diagnosis so I did not take it so well. In addition, my diagnosis happened three months after I was unexpectantly laid off from my job in a career I had worked so hard at for almost 10 years so my life and mindset was already in disarray.

    Over the two weeks following my biopsy, we traveled our tri-state area getting multiple opinions on diagnosis and treatment, interviewing a total of 8 doctors (a combination of breast surgeons and plastic surgeons) and finally deciding on who I wanted to operate on me. Before the mastectomy I had an MRI which detected something on the right side that turned out not to be cancerous. However, due to my BRCA, age, and small breasts, it was still strongly recommended and agreed that a bi-lateral mastectomy would be my best option in order to get rid of all cancer and minimize the chances of getting it again or in the other breast. So on July 15, 2013 I underwent a sentinel node biopsy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and the insertion of tissue expanders. I was lucky to only have one tube on each side but none the less the initial pain was intense. My nodes and margins all came back negative/normal. Here is the part of your story that kind of worried me. My doctors decided that because my nodes and margins were clear, no additional treatment was needed as far as medicine or chemotherapy so I was surprised to hear that chemo was still recommended for you since you were BRCA positive (I would like to understand the reasoning they provided you if you do not mind sharing as not having such although made me feel lucky has continued to worry me despite their confidence that they removed it all). They did however, like with you, refer me to a gynecologist oncologist to discuss monitoring and options in regards to my risks for ovarian and cervical cancer, and also to start having my primary monitor me for colon and other cancers that are also starting to be linked to the BRCA. I too am suppose to have a hysterectomy in the next year or so once we have determined whether or not we want to have another child. In the meantime, I have to meet with an oncologist to better understand the effects that the cancer had on my body and how that will effect having a child. To date (Jan 2014) I am still being expanded. The expansion process has taken a lot longer than expected. I decided that after all I had been through my “trophy” at the end of it all would be a new larger set of breasts. I healed very well and they were able to save my nipples, however my skin is just not stretching as easily. My plastic surgeon is thinking I may not be able to go as big as I wanted as I just do not have the elasticity and my skin is getting thin so I am thinking my silicone implant surgery will probably be this spring. I am VERY thankful that I was one of the lucky ones in that it was caught early, my surgery was successful, and I am now cancer free. I just can’t shake the fear in the back of my mind that it could possibly return but I hear that is common in bc survivors. In the meantime, I am focusing on my family, finding my new calling in life as far as employment, and continuing to keep my stockpile stocked :)

    I would love to connect with you further and hope to hear from you.

  • Karen June 4, 2014, 9:22 am Reply

    I went through a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction in December 2013. Dreadful. I just had the cohesive gel implants switched in on Friday, May 30, 2014. My question is about muscle spasms. I am 54 and very fit. I run and do strength training 6 days a week when possible around these surgeries. So, my muscles are strong and tight. I haven’ purposefully done pectoral strengthening exercises since December. But, I have muscle spasms in my chest several times a day. They don’t hurt but are very uncomfortable. It feels like my muscles are trying to squeeze the implants right out of my chest. If you had any of this, is this something that goes away over time or had I better get used to it?

  • Vivek June 10, 2014, 1:27 am Reply

    Dear Rachel,

    I salute the courage and willpower and spirit of you and all wonderful people here. I just hope you will get out of all this soon. God bless…

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