Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Remembering Diagnosis #1 and #2

One thing is certain: I don’t need October to remind me of breast cancer. It is in my mind when I wake up in the morning, throughout the day, and in my mind when I fall asleep at night. But this October I got the added bonus of TaTa Tuesdays and check your “BOO”bies. To say those cutesy names annoy me would be a gross understatement.

Today I say goodbye to October. Tomorrow is hello to November! I get to prepare for birthday #54! Truly excited for that day.

On this final day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I will leave you with two entries that I found while recently looking through my old journal. I was a much younger me (13 years ago), so full of hope that I would be okay after my first and second diagnoses before things dramatically changed in 2013. Today, I am still hopeful.  After all, hope is all I have when it comes to my tomorrows. That is true for all of us, cancer or not.

From My Journal:
April 25, 2005. (Before I went into surgery)
Words to my children--ages 10, 10, 9, 2.

I’m writing now so you don’t forget that my whole life has been worth it because of you.
I write this on the following pages so you know what I experienced. Maybe it will help you understand what happened to me if I am not here to describe it to you.

Last June I experienced some pain just above my areola on my right breast. The pain was a pinching sensation that would come and go. The feel of my breast was not lumpy, but firm on the top. (I had an enlarged lymph node too.) A mammogram and an ultra-sound were clear. I was told it was most likely caffeine causing my pain. I went on with life until a woman told me about her cancer diagnosis and the bi-lateral mastectomy that occurred because of it made me wonder. A week or so later the pain started occurring again—the same pinching sensation almost like my breast was beginning to let-down milk for a nursing baby. I began feeling for lumps. Still had the same firmness as before. I did feel a little BB sized knot in the area of pain. I pressed and to my astonishment some milky fluid came out of an opening in my nipple. The fluid was yellowish, greenish and thick and a little sticky.

I made the appointment. with my doctor for Monday March 28th. (2005) She sent me to get an ultra sound and a mammogram--again. Those were scheduled for Thursday March 31st. She also suggested I see a breast surgeon. On Monday, April 4th, I was told the results were clear including the lymph node I was worried about. The next day I saw the breast surgeon. She was quite concerned about the “mass” located at 12 o’clock on my right breast. A biopsy was done in her office. Because the hole from which the tissue was taken wouldn’t stop draining, (the same yellowish, sticky substance) the doctor seemed relieved thinking it might be a delayed mastitis. (Really, though? It is 2005. My last child was born 2 years ago.) It drained until 3 am. On Wednesday, she called to say that there were atypical cells found and that the biopsy would be sent to a lab for further evaluation. I could do nothing but wait.

So we went to visit my sisters in Kentucky as planned. Just before we were going into Mammoth Cave the call came from the breast surgeon. Greg fumbled with the phone. The call was dropped as the cell signal was weak. I tried to call her back but nothing. We drove around the parking lot until we had a signal. Through my tears I somehow heard I had Ductal Carcinoma in Situ—cancer in the ducts of my breast--and that I would have to have a mastectomy. She said the diagnosis wasn’t 100% for sure, but she felt confident.

After returning from our trip, on the April 14th, I went in for a 2nd biopsy. More tissue was taken and after 5:00 that day she called to confirm the diagnosis.

On Monday the 18th, I went to see a plastic surgeon. Tuesday I went back to see the breast surgeon. She went over the amount of tissue she was going to take. The plastic surgeon would follow behind her and insert the expanders.

Friday, I was informed that surgery would be performed April 29th. (Things moved quickly.)

All kinds of emotions flow through you with this type of news. Mostly you cry because you don’t want to die and not see your kids grow-up. That is my biggest fear. Other people seem concerned about re-construction. All I care about right now is waking up from the surgery, going home and recovering. I am so scared and worried that cancer cells will be in my lymph node, and I will have to go through chemotherapy. So be it if I don’t have breasts. All I want is my life to spend with my family. I am so lucky to have you. Your daddy has given me so much. Sometimes I don’t tell him enough how much I love him. He has given me everything I have ever wanted or needed.

I love you all.

Dec 31, 2010 (Diagnosis #2 Stage 1, November 2009)

It is about 8 minutes till 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve. This year has been the hardest of my life due to chemo, radiation and Herceptin for a year. My treatments ended Dec 16th with my final Herceptin treatment. On Dec 17th, my port was removed. I am grateful it is over. PET scan showed no cancer!

4 minutes now to go and I am looking forward to a wonderful year. I will try to curse less, and realize that nothing is worth the kind of stress I often experience. The only times worthy of stress are due to the death of a loved one and a diagnosis that could end your own life. I will try to keep that in perspective when things go wrong in my life. 

A bad day is not a bad day when it is a day I lived.

3 seconds. Happy New Year! It is here!