Alicia Grosenheider's Survivor Story
To hear the recent AMC interview, click here: Grosenheider AMC
My name is Alicia Grosenheider and I am a survivor, a TWO-TIME survivor. My breast cancer story started 10 years ago, on February 9, 2005, as I was undressing for the day and caught the side of my breast, where I found the lump. Immediately, I knew that it wasnt just any ordinary lump, rather it was concerning, so I contacted my doctor.
On February 14 I began my appointments at the OBGYN (romantic Valentines day with my hubby, right?). After the whirlwind of a mammogram, diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound, and a biopsy and diagnosis I discovered on February 21, its cancer. Emotions of hope, faith, and MANY prayers carried me through the next weeks as I continued my journey.
March 11, I went in for a mastectomy on my right breast and a prophylactic on my left breast. My son Cole, around age 8 at the time, asked me, Mom, did they just saw them off. Oh honey, how I wish it could be that easy. The surgery went off without a hitch, as I am extremely grateful for my fantastic doctors. The margins were clear, but there was lymph node involvement of five lymph nodes. After consulting with my oncologist it was decided that I would take four rounds of Adriamycin and Cytoxan, and twelve rounds of Taxol. In addition to chemo, I started the drug, Herceptin due to my tumor producing a HER2 gene, which is an overactive gene. The Herceptin was an antibody that would bind itself so it could not reproduce.
After treatment I endured six and a half weeks of radiation to the mastectomy side armpit. Upon finishing all treatment I started a hormone therapy drug, Arimedex. After a year of letting the mastectomy side rest I started reconstruction with tissue expanders, followed with a latissimus dorsi flap. This procedure was a removal of a portion of the latissimus dorsi muscle from the upper back; the fat and skin covering it are puled through a tunnel and relocated to the breast area. After the completion of my reconstruction things began to seem normal again for my daily life.
The word normal no longer began to seem the same, but rather I found a new normal. The journey that I had just encountered was far from over, in positive ways. Besides, whats a journey without a good ending? During my time in the chemo room I met some of the most wonderful and inspiring men and women. These individuals are what inspired me to begin a breast cancer support group in my home county, Montgomery County, in 2008.
As the President of the Montgomery County Breast Cancer Support Group it is my mission to help others experiencing cancer in all aspects: physically, emotionally, and financially. This opportunity has been extremely rewarding to see others receive help, and it became even more rewarding as I had a whole cast of breast friends going into my second battle with cancer.
Eight and a half years later after being in remission I began not feeling well on a daily basis, and I knew something wasnt right. With a mixture of having side pains and a terrible cough I found that I had fluid on my lungs. After having the fluid drained it was discovered that the HER2NEW cells were active in the fluid and my bones. Test after test came to the conclusion that I yet again would be taking chemotherapy.
Going into chemotherapy I was dreading the feeling of being sick but I was so ready to whip this cancer yet again. I want to be a grandma, I want to experience the rest of my life, the best is yet to come, and that is exactly what I did and will continue to do.
So onto chemotherapy I went. This time around I did six rounds of Taxotere with Herceptin and Perjeta. After my six rounds I continued Herceptin and Perjeta and will continue these two drugs as long as it keeps the protein HER2-NEW shut down.
So here I am now, healthy. Very healthy to be exact, and VERY happy. At the beginning of my journey I made the decision to take this as a learning opportunity to find out my true self. I am here to tell everyone that I am a strong woman that has fought cancer twice, and won. Life has many bumps in the road and this just seemed to be mine that I decided to face head on with a positive attitude. Life has so much to offer, and at 38 years old I knew that my time was not done, and I know now at 50 I am still not done. I am embracing my over the hill age and will continue to live the life that I love. With my family, friends, and most importantly the Lord I will conquer anything.