This is a summary of my story
My name is Amy (Rhinehart) Ramba and I was born on September 11, 1980. I am the youngest in my family with three older brothers. I married my husband, Mike, on September 27, 2003 and we have three dogs. My oldest brother Jeff was diagnosed with an inoperable malignant brain tumor in July of 2004 at the age of 33. He was treated at the Cleveland Clinic with a regimen that included radiation and chemotherapy. In June of 2005, while I was getting dressed one morning, I noticed a small dimple in my left breast. I could feel a lump there about the size of a dime. I was only 24 at the time, so normally my thoughts would not have been cancer. However, with my brother having been diagnosed with cancer at such a young age and less than a year prior, my concerns were elevated. It was early August by the time I saw a doctor and the dime size lump had grown to be about 4 cm in size. After a series of doctors, a mammogram, an ultrasound, and a biopsy, I was diagnosed with breast cancer on September 14, 2005. I had turned 25 years old just three days prior. My diagnosis was stage II invasive ductal with no lymph node involvement. The tumor was also hormone receptor positive for both estrogen and progesterone, and also HER2 positive. My bone scans and CT scans all came back clear except for this one lump. I was treated locally here in Ohio, and I started a chemotherapy regimen of Carboplatin and Taxol with Herceptin. After my fourth treatment, the lump could no longer be felt, nor did it show up on a mammogram. My surgeon did a lumpectomy on December 20, 2005 to take out a tissue sample and achieve what they call clear margins. This means that all around the edges of what was removed is clear of cancer cells. The pathology report came back still showing some cancer cells, so I went back in for a second surgery on December 28, 2005. This time everything came back clear. I continued with two more cycles of chemotherapy, and followed with 9 weeks of radiation. I was put on a daily dose of Tamoxifen, and was told I would be on it for the next five years. I also continued going to the hospital every 3 weeks for a Herceptin infusion which is a hormone therapy, since my cancer was essentially being fed by the hormones in my body. I finished with this exactly one year to the day that I started, September 26, 2006. The next day my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. On September 30, 2006 my brother Jeff claimed his crown in Heaven at age 35. He left behind a wife, a daughter age 10, and two sons ages 9 and 7. In August of 2007, I started to notice pain in my sternum area. Shortly after, I had pain in the right side of my neck. I tried to think of how I might have hurt myself, but nothing seemed to come to mind. I started going to a chiropractor, but all with no relief. The end of August was my yearly mammogram. In the days just before that exam, I noticed a new lump forming in my left breast. I went for my mammogram and shortly thereafter received a letter in the mail stating that an abnormality showed up and I would need a biopsy. The next day, I saw my oncologist. I let her know about the pain I had in my sternum area and she ordered a bone scan. I met with my surgeon to schedule my biopsy, and he let me know that the results from the bone scan showed an area of concern in my sternum. He ordered a CT scan of my neck, which also showed a lesion, both areas consistent with cancer. I also had an MRI which confirmed the diagnosis. I went forward with my biopsy, which also confirmed that I, yet again, had breast cancer. I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer on September 13, 2007, just two days after my 27th birthday. When my local doctor did not opt for surgery or chemotherapy, I really began seeking God and asking what He would want me to do. I had attended a seminar called "Journey of Hope" in April of 2007, in which the pastor spoke about the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I decided to call them, and a week later, Mike and I were on our way. Shortly after my diagnosis, a group of family and friends, and also some believers that I had never met prayed over me for complete healing after a church service. I felt something happen to me physically that I will never forget, and the pain in my sternum was completely gone.
Mike and I flew out to the Chicago area, where the doctors at CTCA confirmed my diagnosis, and even repeated some of my scans. I prayed for God's direction, and I started a chemotherapy regimen of Adriamycin and Cytoxan while I was there. I had my mid treatment scans in January of 2008, which showed the lesion in my sternum is gone and new bone is already regrowing, consistent with the healing process. The lesion in my neck, which measured 1.1 x 1.3 cm is also completely gone, with no evidence that it was ever there. I continued chemotherapy treatments, 12 in total, and finished the end of April 2008. My scans in May showed the same results as January. I was given the summer off to see how my body responded without chemotherapy.
I really felt like God was calling me to talk about the healing that He performed in my body. I had the opportunity to speak at a healing service over the summer. Shortly after, I started to notice a new lump in my left breast. I knew I would have my three month scans again in August, so I waited two weeks from the time the symptoms appeared until that visit. In two weeks time, the lump I had noticed turned into the size of an apple. When I returned to CTCA, I let them know and additional scans were ordered. The tests revealed my bones were all still stable, but that I had a 5 inch tumor in my breast tissue. I also had a swollen lymph node in my neck, as well as some under my arm. A mastectomy was scheduled for September 16, 2008. I knew that God had called me to speak about my testimony, and this was not God going back on what He had done for me.
I went through with the mastectomy and a total of 11 lymph nodes were removed, 9 of which were positive for cancer. The tumor was sent to California for chemo resistance testing, to see what chemotherapy would work. I found out those results on October 21. I started a regimen of chemotherapy involving Gemzar and Herceptin, which are given through IV every three weeks. I am also on an oral chemotherapy, Xeloda, which I take twice a day for 14 days, then have one week off, and then the cycle starts over. I will continue this cycle for as long as my doctor decides is necessary. I have my blood work drawn weekly to monitor my white and red blood cells. I also travel to CTCA for the IV therapy and to see my doctor every three weeks.
I have continued to pray for healing and discernment, that my decisions would be based on what God wants for me and not what I want. This website has, and always will, serve as a real life journal for me. My brother, Jeff, has had more of an influence in my spiritual walk than I would have ever thought. He fought with God's strength and never lost his faith. My own battle with cancer has proved to be challenging, but I would not trade the relationship that has formed with my Savior as a result. Please feel free to read through my entries, and also those from my brothers. You can also contact me via email if you have any questions on my diagnosis, treatment, CTCA, or if you would like me to pray for you as well. I am happy to share my journey and would love to share in yours.
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