I think I will title all of my blogs that-- then again, that is pretty depressing but it sure is a great place to start. But before I do, special thanks to my pal Kelly for setting this up for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I think writing is therapeutic (along with coloring) so when I got the BIG "C" diagnosis, a blog was perfect! (Xanax helps too!) So here I am.
The words "they think it might be a cancer" rocked my world July 19, a Thursday morning. This was after almost 6 months of messing with a painful lumpy something in my right boob. I did all the right things--went to my doctor in late February after it didn't get better with a menstrual cycle, and then had a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound that showed nothing.(I have also had yearly mammos since I was thirty five--I guess I was considered high risk because I have an aunt who had her breast removed and because I have really dense breasts) But bless Dr. Stanley(my now retired family doctor)--after thinking quite a bit over the phone, she said, "You know, the gold standard is to see a surgeon." So I did in early March. Together, we looked at my films and at the time, the lump wasn't really as lumpy so we decided to try eliminating caffeine to see if that helped. I HAD been drinking a lot of coffee and had no interest in any more tests and since my films were negative, I said three months is ok to wait. Well, it didn't get better so when I went back in, he said "let's take it out." So we did--fully expecting benign tissue--at least that is what I kept telling myself.
It's wierd--let me digress for a second--even back when I first felt the pain there were signs everywhere that this was something serious. And I don't mean physical signs. I wasn't really worried that it was cancer (compared to all my other worries about cancer) but everywhere I turned there were ads for cancer clinics, Elizabeth Edwards' cancer had spread to her bone, etc. Deep deep down, I think I knew. Can't tell you why, but there was something. Also, in the past, when I have had medical issues to worry about I always prayed that it "wouldn't be cancer" (my schwannoma) or it "wouldn't be cystic fibrosis (my son, when we discovered he was allergic to pet dander but the pediatrician wanted to rule out CF), or "please don't let it be a tumor" when my hip hurt. THIS time, however, I felt the need to pray "God, just let me handle whatever it is." Some might say I didn't pray "right", but if anything, this just confirmed that someone WAS listening! Ok, enough about that. I am not a deeply religious person but do believe in God and the power of prayer.
Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma of the Breast. Bet you never heard of it, huh? Well, no one else has either, including every freakin' doctor around. I should say they have heard of it, but no one around here has personally seen it. It is the rarest of all the 15 some types of breast cancers, with a less than .1% of all tumors being this lovely thing. When Dr. H (my first surgeon) told me the diagnosis, he acted like he had just gotten off the internet reading about it--but what kept me calm was the term "low aggressive." Before I even went to him for the official diagnosis, I had decided to get a different surgeon in Kalamazoo, where my sister (a nurse) recommended this spit fire of a doctor who I will call Dr. Nancy. I decided to leave Dr. H for a variety of reasons, but mainly because I wanted to be with my sister and at her hospital and this Dr. Nancy's reputation as an awesome boob doctor, and an awesome patient advocate. I also had already chosen my oncologist, Dr. A, a well-known doctor in South Bend. When I left Dr. H's office, I already had appointments with both Dr. A and Dr. Nancy and believe it or not, a HUGE sense of relief to have a name to what I was dealing with. I only cried for about 10 minutes by myself in the doctor' s office while everyone tried to get me in to see the new doctors. It felt good to cry finally, after worrying for so long.
The very next morning, Dr. A's (oncologist) visit was very reassuring. He is a little man with BIG experience and although I love his bed side manner, I was a bit taken aback when he said, in his Middle Eastern(?) accent: "Your kind of cancer makes doctors sweat." Gulp! But he reassured me that he could help and although he hadn't personally dealt with it, his prognosis and plan of treatment matched what I had read on the Internet. (I read A LOT, despite there not being many cases, there are some good links) We planned for a lumpectomy with radiation, and depending on my sentinel node results, most likely no chemo as this cancer does not respond to chemo. I came right out and asked him if I was going to die and he said (in Middle Eastern accent) "You will live to 102." God love the man.
Ok--gotta live life now--packing for my son Andrew's trip to Illinois for the Little League REGIONAL tournament. We are Michigan State champs so that is just cool. Thanks for caring and for reading! Please check in and check back!