My Journey Through Breast Surgery and Treatment
A Story By Kirstin Kallini
We’re spotlighting Kirstin’s story as a poignant reminder of the significance of self-care (and self-advocation) for breast health.
My First Surgery to Remove Breast Tissue
My first surgery was on September 27th, 2021, two months after finding my tumor. The surgeon removed my breast tissue and added expanders for future reconstruction. I went home the same day as it was considered outpatient (due to covid, they wanted to minimize hospital stays for elective surgeries). I had to test negative for covid and couldn't have anyone go with me. Recovery was challenging and painful, which required patience and understanding from my 1-year-old son.
From Surgery to Chemotherapy
I got my port on October 27th, 2021, and started chemo a week later. I had 4 doses of chemo AC, 12 rounds of taxol, and a total of 16 weeks of chemo. I went in every Friday morning for treatment. They would do a blood draw and weigh me (this helped me decide I can't care about my weight so much, I just need to focus on staying alive), run labs, and check if I was okay for treatment that day. They would then prepare my custom chemo meds for the day. They’d give me steroids and benadryl before I went into treatment for 4-7 hours.
From Chemotherapy to Radiation
After 16 weeks of chemo, I had a 6-week break and then underwent 32 rounds of radiation. The radiation targeted the area above my heart and lungs on the left side, requiring extreme precision. That nursing staff was AMAZING. I would arrive early at 6:45 every morning to minimize work and life disruptions. The procedure took place behind an 8-inch locked steel door. As a result of the radiation, I have tanning and more freckles on the left side of my body and face. Fortunately, I don't have any permanent scarring or damage on my left side.
*Remember to perform your at home breast examination at least once per month to monitor any changes or abnormalities. Check with your doctor if any unusual changes to your breasts occur.