October Became My
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned my breast cancer diagnosis. What I immediately noticed was the sisterhood among survivors. Many reached out to me once they became aware of my diagnosis, which helped in my overwhelmed state. It helped me grapple with the disease.
I will never forget the moment I heard the words, “you have breast cancer.” Through the second mammogram, the ultrasound, and the biopsy, I kept hoping the outcome would be the same as always — “your mammogram (or ultrasound) is clear.” Except it wasn’t. This time, I hadn’t dodged the bullet.
When I was younger, breast cancer was a devastating diagnosis. People generally died when given that diagnosis. While that still happens in some cases, outcomes depend on how quickly the disease is discovered. The sooner the better. There are many options and it turns out there are
lots of variations on breast cancer. I never knew that. Because many
women courageously fought …
I want to share my journey. My eyes were forced open to this disease and how extraordinary women have persevered in the fight against it. I hope my sharing will benefit others.
The first thing I realized is there is a team of doctors…a literal team! And lots of appointments. And there’s also this…hurry and wait. I’m not a patient person with things like this, so the waiting part is especially difficult for me. But I’m trying.
The day of surgery arrived. Up to this point, I had spent weeks scheduling appointments, meeting doctors, and other ‘team members,’ and trying to quell the ever-mounting anxiety building within me. While I dreaded surgery, I also welcomed it. Surgery meant release. But it also meant moving into the unknown…and finding out if what they had projected with the biopsy would be what they would find with the surgical pathology. Finally, something would be done about the cancer in my body.
Radiology left a marker in my breast during the biopsy. And just before surgery, a radioactive seed joined it, providing the doctor with a clear path to the tumor. Some people take these invasive procedures with a grain of salt. I’m not one of them. While it wasn’t as slow or traumatic as the biopsy, it wasn’t painless.
Once I got beyond that, I could relax for the surgery. I don’t know about you, but with me, it’s always been those little things that stress me. When I was pregnant, it wasn’t the thought of giving birth to something the size of a pumpkin. Rather, the IV and introducing the epidural terrified me. Ultimately, I had no choice…just as with this.
Surgery is now behind me, and the pathology results show no breach of margins and no spread to the sentinel nodes. This positive outcome is an enormous relief, even though I have no certainty about the path I’m to take. An ONCOTYPE (which we will discuss with my doctor tomorrow) will determine the path of treatment—whether radiation will be next or chemo. It’s the first time I can ever remember hoping for a low test score.
My story will continue as I move forward in this battle for health.