Sunday, January 30, 2011

Walk for the Cure

Before being diagnosed with breast cancer I was in the process of making the transition from Mrs. Army wife to Mrs. Retired Army Wife. After almost 19 years as an Army Wife helping and supporting soldiers and their families, I found myself faced with the need to redefine myself.  I'm not sure who I'll be when I'm done with the process, but victim will not be one of my descriptive words.  

I've always felt that part of God's design for me was for me to help others. I'm a care giver. It's part of my nature to want to do things for others.  Since I would no longer be fundraising and volunteering for Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) I had decided to look for other volunteer opportunities.  I've discovered that I truly enjoy walking, so I had decided in 2011 I would be participating in as many "Walk For . . ." walks as I could find.  This would have the added benefit of helping me to get in shape for hiking up Pikes Peak in August.

Though I plan to walk for other worthy causes (Alzheimer's and Autism for example), after the diagnoses I decided I wanted to concentrate on events supporting cancer research.  

In Colorado there are three events that I know of: 

I'd like to participate in all three of these. My radiation treatments will have been completed long before June. I should be back in walking shape.  What I'm worried about is the fundraising expected for these events.  Fundraising is essential.  After all it takes money to conduct research and funds are also needed to provide care for patients in financial need.  

My fear is that I won't be able to live up to the challenge.  The Avon Walk requires walkers to raise a minimum of $1,800. The other two races don't have such high requirements. I've done tons of fundraising for FRG events. I've done more bake sales and hot dog sales than I can remember. 

 Recently, I spent an entire day at a local book store dressed as a pig to raise funds for books for the library.  

I've put together and sold cookbooks. I've made blankets and raffled them off. I helped put together a craft fair.  Out of 19 years of experience at this sort of thing, I've only one event that made close to $1,800 - that was the craft fair. And you will notice that all of these fundraising events were ones where people were buying something, not just donating.  Asking people for money - for sponsorships - is somewhat out of my comfort zone.  I don't like to put people on the spot.  But then again, no one every promised life would be easy.  If something is important enough (and this is to me) then you have to be willing to sweat a little. Maybe if I start now, I can find 180 people willing to donate $10. Or maybe I can bake 1800 batches of cookies. Or maybe there is a way I can use my photography to raise funds. I'm sure God didn't me bless me with camera skills just so I could scrapbook.

Fundraising is not the only way to support cancer patients.  There are many ways to help. Check back frequently as I use my super librarian skills to pull together a list.  In the mean time - something as simple as wearing a pink ribbon is a good way to show your support. imgres.jpg

Saturday, January 29, 2011

All Those Thoughts and Feelings Have To Go Somewhere

Crazy Sexy Cancer Tip #41 is "Journaling is Self-Therapy on The Cheap."

I'm no stranger to journaling (when I was a kid we called it keeping a diary).  When my sons were born, I started a book of letters to them. I regret that after a few years I didn't keep it up, but after my youngest was born, I think I suffered from an undiagnosed case of post partum depression. When my letters to the boys became maudlin, I stopped.  Over the years I've kept a journal off and on. I even had a big red journal I kept during the last deployment - all that anger/fear/frustration had to go somewhere and better on the pages of book I could always burn - than bottled up inside me or spewed all over my friends and family. (Though, I do have several battle buddies who would have and have stood near with a bucket to help clean up the mess. - Rhonda, Paula, Kristel, Sue, just name a few.)

As I said journaling is something I'm very familiar with - it's the frustrated writer wannabe in me.  (Who knows, there just might be a gem of a story in some of those pages).  So one of the first things I did after being told I had cancer was to look for a pretty pink journal. I've always loved pink and at this point in my life it seems to be my signature color.  I bought it to write down questions for the doctor (though I never seem to have it handy in the wee hours of the night when those questions pop up) and to let out those feelings and fears that I want to acknowledge, but don't want to share with anyone.  Exposing myself on this blog is a big step for me - one that I hope will help me as well as others - but there are some things I'm still not ready to share.

The journal does not take the place of talking with a good therapist (an idea I'm still toying around with), but it is certainly better than ignoring what's going on in my head.

If you are new to journaling, Carr offers some tips to get you started.

"1. Using two hundred words or less, paint a self portrait with words.
2.  What are your top five favorite things? What are your top five least favorite things? (Some of these sound like weekly blog memes.)
3. Write about someone who has inspired you. (I've got at least four people I could fill numerous pages about.)
4. Describe your happiest childhood memories.
5. Write a letter to yourself now and one from yourself ten years from now.  Describe all the cool things that have happened in your life.
6. Write a letter you'll never send." Carr, K. (2007). Crazy sexy cancer tips. Connecticut: Morris Publishing Group, LLC.

This is a picture of my current journal.

If you are creative, you can always make your own journal. I've been thinking of doing that. Here's some pics of a couple of journals I made for two young cousins. (No they don't have cancer, I just wanted to make them something personal.)

You are only limited by your own imagination.  My friend and fellow blogger, Jenbug also talks about journaling on her blog today: Jenbug's Story She is the only person I know who has more journals going than I do. (And yes, I do keep a book journal. I'm a librarian and a total book geek, so of course I have book journals dating back for the last several years.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Finding the Right Fit

As you know, I'm reading Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips. One of her many tips is about finding the right medical team, getting second opinions and not just settling for whatever doctor shows up.

I didn't seek a second opinion. I liked my surgeon and his team from the beginning. I felt comfortable with them and for me that's a big thing.

Right up there with needles one of my biggest phobias is doctors in general. After 15 years of Army medical care, where I've been laughed at, ignored and treated like one in a large of herd of cattle or just experienced substandard care, I have to force myself to go to make appointments. (My oldest son broke his arm when he was  around 9.  The wonderful Army emergency room x-rayed his elbow. So perhaps you can understand my reluctance when it comes to anything army and medical.)

However, when the Army sent us to Ft. Carson four years ago, we opted to live on the north side of Colorado Springs. We wanted our boys to go to school in D20.  The added benefit was that Tricare (Army health insurance) assigned the boys and I to the Air Force Academy for our healthcare.  What a difference! For the first time since college, a doctor took my migraines seriously and prescribed something other than 800 mg of Motrin.  Everyone was friendly and pleasant.  Of course, I didn't seem the same primary care provider twice until sometime within the last year - it seems that every time they assigned me someone, they got deployed.   Still, I went from being a file among many to being a person.

One of the handful of things that crossed my mind after the diagnosis was "Thank God, I'm getting my treatment from the Academy and not the Army post in Missouri!"  Seriously, I do have a great medical team (even if the surgeon did scare the bejeebers out of me when he cautioned that the medical oncologist might recommend chemo.)  The surgeon took time to make sure my husband and I both understand the diagnosis and the possible treatments. He let us decide the route we wanted to go and then made sure our questions are answered (and as for the scare about the chemo - remember I was the dingy librarian that didn't use all of her resources to find out more about that one. I really have myself to blame on that one.) One thing that I've not done and as I read Carr's book I've added something else to my to do list - keep a note pad handy to right down the questions I can never think of when I'm sitting in front of the doctor.  My doctor is great about answering questions - provided I could think of and remember them any time besides two in morning.

The surgeon talked to us, not at us or around us. His nurse is fabulous at cutting through Tricare red tape.  The nurses in the mammography clinic have been wonderful as well.  In the beginning, I wanted my husband's Aunt Jacquie to be here - she works in a mammography clinic in another state. It would have been nice to have her to hold my hand through all this, but still, the ladies in clinic at the Academy are wonderful.  This has been the scariest event of my life (ok being pregnant and having children was pretty scary, too) and I've been fortunate so far to have a medical team that has worked to make it as less traumatic as possible. God put us in the right place to deal with this.

My point in all this rambling is that you have to feel comfortable with your medical team. You have to trust them.  And if you don't  - you should jump up and demand better.  Maybe that means getting a second, third  or even fourth opinion.  If  you are willing to shop around to find the right pair of shoes or the computer that can do all the things you want it to do - shouldn't you do the same for your medical care?  If your doctor is not comfortable with you asking questions or wanting a second opinion, that should raise a red flag.  This isn't a small boo-boo.  This is your life.  You are going to be spending a lot of time with this team, it's important that it be the right fit.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why Me? What Did I Do Wrong?

     From the little I've read so far, at some point almost every one diagnosed with cancer asks the question(s)  "Why Me? What Did I Do Wrong? Am  I Not a Good Person?"  

    For me, once the shock wore off the first thing I thought was "OMG, Granny was right!"  When I was a teen I began my weight struggles (no surprise when you live with a woman who makes even the most boring of meals taste fabulous) and so I took some over the counter diet pills.  When Granny found out, she was livid. She scolded me and told me that I was going to get breast cancer.  I was a  teen and didn't take her seriously - I thought it was one of her goofy old wives' tales. (I'm ashamed to admit that though I loved her more than anyone, I was a teen and I often didn't take seriously what she said - even when she was right on track.)  And no I don't believe diet pills I took 30 years ago gave me cancer today, but it did cross my mind after the diagnoses.  (I later found out that she told my younger cousin that he shouldn't hit his sister because it would give her breast cancer.  For a woman plagued with high cholesterol and hear disease Granny seemed very worried about breast cancer.  I always thought God had granted her a little bit of the "sight.") 

     And intellectually, I know that I didn't get cancer because I'm a bad person. (I'm not as good a person as I'd like to be and there was that thing that happened when I didn't get on the high road as fast I would have liked, but there are plenty of evil people much worse than I am walking around in perfect health. And besides I'm kind to small animals and small children.)  My BCN wants me to meet with the genetic specialist at the cancer center, so even though there is no known history of it in my family, maybe I did have a genetic pre-disposition for breast cancer. I was estranged from my mother and my half sister. I do know that my mother passed away about two years ago, but have no idea of what.

Or maybe, it's just like the oncologist said, my case is a fluke.

    In the cold light of morning, strengthened by a good cup of coffee, I don't think it matters how I got it, because I don't believe I have the kind of cancer that knowing how or why I got it will make a bit of difference in my cure. I wasn't exposed to any toxic chemicals. It's not lung, skin or liver cancer - the kinds that know what caused it could have a big impact on the cure and making sure it doesn't reoccur.  What matters is how I fight it.  - So says the educated somewhat intellectual librarian.  But sometimes, in the dark of the night, the frightened little girl still asks why and wonders if she had done some things differently, if she'd been a nicer person, would it have made a difference?

Today's tip is for friends and family of cancer patients.  When your loved one asks the questions I just mentioned, don't immediately dismiss their feelings. It's one thing to know you are not being punished - that it's not your fault -  but it's normal to have those feelings. So assure them that they were not struck by cancer because  they snarled at the person who took the parking space they wanted (yes I'm being a little irreverent and exaggerating a great deal), but validate their feelings by recognizing it's normal to have those feelings.  And if nothing else, just lend an ear when those fears surface.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

C is for - no not cancer - CRANKY!

There are a lot of emotions that come with having been diagnosed with cancer, not the least of which (for me) seems to be crankiness. Ok, I'll be honest, being cranky is nothing new for me. I hardly ever get a decent night's sleep, I'm constantly fretting about my weight and I have a sixteen your old son who oozes crankiness that seems to be very contagious.  However, before the diagnosis, I'd like to think I was better at controlling my crankiness.  I even used to give my younger son "crankiness warning bulletins" - sort of like storm warnings.

But it seems that now with the diagnosis, not only has my patience level plummeted, but my ability to try to control the crankiness seems to have flown out the window.  For example: last night I checked my phone and discovered I had a voice mail from MRC (Metabolic Research Center), the wonderful people who helped me take off around 80 pounds (though this diagnoses has stressed me to the point where I've put just a few back on) while my husband was deployed in 2010-2011.  It was from a woman who's name I didn't recognize. (I'm hoping she's a new consultant and not the receptionist that I've met hundreds of times.) She wanted to know why I hadn't been in to weigh in, telling me that I had been doing so well and didn't want to blow it now.  And by the way, they have a new prescription product that will help me lose 30 lbs in 30 days.  When I listened to that voice mail, my first response was to call back and leave a scathing reply. What was she doing bugging me about losing more weight and it having been three weeks since I'd weighed in?! Didn't she know I'm battling cancer? What was her problem?!  And why do I need to loose 30 lbs when I'm around 20lbs under the goal weight they had assigned me.

I took a deep breath. Then another and then I realized that she obviously didn't know about the cancer.  Even though I had told them about it during my visits in December, it's not as though they doused my filed in pink ribbons.  Chances are the consultant that I spoke with in December didn't make a note in my file - though I don't know why not.  Still, the woman who left the voicemail obviously had not read much of my file or she would not have been suggesting I needed a prescription to help me lose another 30 lbs.  I took another deep breath and instead of leaving a scathing voice mail, I sent an email (perhaps one not as friendly as I would have liked), explaining the situation and telling them I'd come back in for a weigh in after I recover from the second surgery.

Cranky, cranky, cranky!

But this also brings up another feeling that I've been experiencing.  As I mentioned before, we chose to go with BCT (Breast Conservation Therapy) or what I like to call a lumpectomy. The tissue they removed during the first surgery was a small amount and they won't be taking very much tissue during the second surgery.  Outwardly, since I'm not a topless dancer, there aren't any signs that I have cancer.  The surgeon did a very good job and I don't think my scar will be very noticeable when I put on a swimsuit for the hot tub.  Yet there are times when I feel as though I have CANCER VICTIM tattooed in bright pink letters across my forehead.  Or maybe my left breast is glowing neon pink.  Ridiculous I know.  Yet when your body has been invaded by cancer, ridiculous seems to just take over.  I often say I just want things to be normal.  Well, guess what? Things are never going to be normal again or rather my definition of what is normal is going to have change a little.  After the radiation is over I will take tamoxifen for the next five years and I'll be spending a little more time with the doctors than I would have chosen (next needles, the thing I have the biggest phobia about is a visit to the doctor.)   As for whether or not I'm a flashing cancer sign - well, I'm not hiding the fact that I have it.  I do wear a Save a Breast bracelet that my youngest got for me and my favorite water glass does have pink ribbons all over it.  But, I'm not a cancer victim, I'm a SURVIVOR.  And I hope I can be a help to others as well. Pink is my current signature color. (I've always loved the color pink, and now wearing it not only looks good, but hopefully increases awareness.)

One last thing for today. I'm a big believer in the power of prayer.  I'm a Christian - perhaps not the best example of one, but I know God loves me because he hasn't left me alone in this fight. My prayers were that the cancer would miraculously disappear. It didn't, but it did turn out to be the most "innocent" (yes, I know I still need to deal with my issues over that term) of cancers.  Without the prayers of my friends and family, this fight would be even more difficult and my crankiness level would be over Pikes Peak.

Therefore, I believe everyone could use a little prayer. A friend sent me the following:

In memory of our moms, dads, brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones of whom there are so many...and those fighting it today... 


This year has been one with too many diagnoses too close to home.  
For all the friends, family, loved ones, 
and those we don't even know...

February 4th is world cancer day - I'd appreciate it if you will forward this request

A small request.. Just one line.

Dear God, I pray for a cure for cancer.  Amen

All you are asked to do is keep this circulating, even if it's only to one more person.
In memory of anyone you know who has been struck down by cancer or is still living with it.

A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle..

Please Keep This Candle Going

If you don't believe in the power of prayer, well take a few minutes and think positive thoughts. (And if that sounds a little too new age -ish - thinking positive thoughts is a lot better for you expending energy on negative thoughts.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday Was a Good Day!

How often do you find yourself saying anything good about Monday? It's the first day of the work week and usually jam packed with irritations. But after yesterday I may have to start trying not to be so hard on Mondays.

Yesterday I met with my medical oncologist.  As you know from yesterday's post I was expecting/dreading to be told that I was going to have to have chemo in addition to the radiation.  And that dread must of been written all over my face, because everyone (the doctor, my BCN "breast care navigator" and my husband) all commented on how my face changed when the doctor said "You Don't Need Chemo." I felt like doing the happy dance. I will still start the radiation about 3 and half weeks after my next surgery and I will take a cancer drug every day for the next five years.

I learned something important from yesterdays visit. Talk about what you fear and ask questions.  Sharon my BCN (another name would be patient advocate) was surprised that I had been worried about having chemo. After all, everyone has been telling me that my cancer is the "innocent" kind or the "good" kind in that it was a low stage, well defined, detected early and expected to respond well to treatment. (The topic of how the words innocent and good can be in the same sentence as the word cancer will have to be addressed on another day.)  I explained about the conversation I had had last week with the surgeon and his speculation about the oncologist recommending chemo.  She frowned and wanted to know why I hadn't called her. That's what she's for - to help me navigate my way through the system, the flood of medical jargon, and to translate for the doctors.  Having worked on many other cancer cases with my surgeon and being very familiar with my medical history, she could have explained why the surgeon said what he said AND also given a better prediction of what the oncologist was going to recommend.  Talking to her would have gone a long way to alleviating my fears.   Trained librarian that I am, I failed to use all my resources and spent several days being fearful, cranky and taking it out on everyone near me.  Fortunately for me, I have a wonderful network of family, friends and co-workers who are not likely to hold my week-long pity party against me.

And that brings me to something I read last night in Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips.  Kris Carr's first tip for dealing with cancer is to get yourself a "posse".  Some people do well with organized cancer support groups, while others need something more personal.  Rather than go to the organized groups, Carr started asking her friends and co-workers if they knew of any other women her age who were going through something similar.  That is how she pulled together her posse that she calls The Cancer Babes."


I'm not sure if I'll try to pull together my own Cancer Babes group or not.  I often have times when I feel as though my "innocent" cancer (yep - there's some baggage on that term) is not "big" enough to warrant the roller coaster of emotions that I go through daily. (Again, intellectually I know feeling that way is nuts - realistically and emotionally - I can't deny that I sometimes feel guilty about being scared and worried when there are women with cancers that can't be treated much less cured. And what about the women who have fought cancer only to have it come back and with a vengeance?)  So, yes I do foresee a support group in my future, I just don't know if I will be brave enough to go out and get my own like Kris Carr or if I'll find an established group - where I can hide in the corner.  Stay tuned to find out.

Want to help fund mammograms for under privileged women?  Purchases from The Breast Cancer Site Store  helps to fund mammograms for women in need.  imgres.jpg

Monday, January 24, 2011

Dreading the C-word - Chemo

     Today is the day I meet with the medical oncologist to discuss treatment options in addition to radiation. I'm afraid he's going to throw out the big C word - chemo.  Up until I got the results from the first surgery, I had been in denial about chemo. I had convinced myself that I could avoid it.  Radiation and some pill would be enough.  It's not that I'm worried about losing my hair (though a bald me would be very scary). I've even joked that if I have to have chemo and I do lose my hair, maybe it will grow back naturally red (no gray) and curly. Ok, so I'm only half joking about that.  No, at this point, I'm not worried about my hair, it's my energy.  While my husband was deployed, I got my act together, signed up for a wonderful weight loss program (Metabolic Research Center) and lost 80 pounds.  I went from being a tired, overweight middle aged woman, to a healthy, fit middle aged woman (who just might have look a little younger than her actual age.) I discovered the joy of walking and have even been working on being fit enough to hike up Pikes Peak.  I'll let chemo have my hair (I'll wear a wig or hat), but I don't want it to take my energy.  

    It's not just my personal life that will be impacted by chemo.  I'm an elementary school librarian. My students come to the library once a week for 30 minutes and I'm trying to figure out ways that I can get more time with them.  I'm afraid that chemo will zap my energy and I won't even be able to handle the small amount of time I do have with them.  To be honest, I've not yet done any research on the effects of chemo.  I'm only going on what I've heard.  My mother-in-law had more than one round of chemo. It drained all of her energy.  Granted, she had a much more aggressive cancer than mine.  But she was only two years older than I am now.  It's hard not to make the comparisons. Intellectually, I know I shouldn't make comparisons - emotionally, I can't help it.  My mother in law eventually cut herself off from everyone, family and even some of her closest friends.  Looking in from the outside, I can't help be think maybe the chemo did more harm than good.  (Again, that's the emotion talking.)  I trust my doctors. I have a good team. I'm a librarian. Need a good book or some research resources - call me. Need medical advice, talk to the doctors. So, I will go with what my doctors tell me.  I just can't promise I won't whine about it a little.  I guess there's really nothing I can do until I hear from the doctor this afternoon.

On a somewhat lighter note, I've started reading Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips by Kris Carr. It was a free Kindle book for my iPad.   So far, I'm finding it to be just what I need.  I might even buy a print copy for my shelves.  Check back here or on my book blog (Booklady's Booknotes) for a full review when I'm finished.  In the meantime this is what Amazon says about it:

Product Description:

An advice-from-the-trenches cancer survival guidebook for young women with cancer.
Actress and photographer Kris Carr thought she had a hangover, but a Jivamukti yoga class didn't provide its usual kick-ass cure. A visit to her doctor confirmed her "liver looked like Swiss cheese," covered with cancerous tumors. She entered trench warfare (wearing cowboy boots into the MRI machine, no less), vowing, "Cancer needed a makeover and I was just the gal to do it!" She began writing and filming her journey, documenting her interactions with friends, doctors, alternative "quacks," blind dates, and other women with cancer--sadly a growing group. These include hip, young women such as illustrator-author Marisa Acocella Marchetto (Cancer Vixen), Glamour writer-editor Erin Zammett (My So-Called Normal Life), MTV personality Diem Brown (Real World/Road Rules Challenge), model Sharon Blynn (founder, Bald Is Beautiful), and music manager Jackie Farry, among others. 

Here's my first tip to share (actually my assistant principal shared it with me and I'm passing it along.)  I have found that when fighting any illness whether it be a cold, cancer, or injuries of some kind, my energy level drops as my body works overtime to heal.  So there are quite a few things I don't feel like doing. One of those is cleaning house. (OK, to be honest, I never feel like cleaning house, I'd much rather read a book. But my mother was a neat freak and though she didn't pass that down to me, she did manage to pass down the guilt over a messy house. Gee, thanks Mom!).  There's a wonderful organization Cleaning For a Reason that will provide house cleaning once a month for four months for women who are going through chemo.  If you need this service or know someone who does check them out. If you don't need this service, but are looking for a way to support the fight against cancer, you can make a donation or purchase items promoting the service.

Check back tomorrow to see what the oncologist says.  

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In The Pink - The Beginning

     I've been putting off creating this blog because I didn't want to seem like an attention hog.  Someone I love told me I talk about my cancer all the time and he doesn't understand why, since I'm not critical. I was also hesitant because I just couldn't seem to find anything profound or wise to say. (I've always dreamed of being a writer, but lack a way with words.)

    I finally decided to just jump right in.  After all when dealing with cancer being hesitant can be hazardous to your health.  First off, I will say that I know I'm lucky. My cancer was caught early, it's well defined. I'm healthy, I have access to very good medical care and I have a support network of friends and family that can't be beat.  I'm also human, so there are times when I forget how lucky I am.  I hope that won't happen to often.

    When fighting cancer of any kind, you can't rely on luck. Early detection is the key. I am not a big fan of doctors and I put off going as long as I can. However, I have always made sure that I kept that one "well woman check up" each year and when I reached an age where yearly mammograms were required, I kept those too.  And that just might have been my saving grace in this case.  Normally I get all of that done over the summer so I don't have to miss school.  However, during the summer of 2010 my family was sitting in an empty house in MO waiting for the Army to make up their mind as to where we would be stationed. We had just left Colorado Springs (and a fabulous job that I just loved), we had not yet been signed into post at Ft. Leonard Wood and we were in limbo.  At the end of July we were sent right back to Colorado Springs. So, appointments that I normally had over the summer were pushed to October.  To be honest, I did consider waiting until the following summer. But my mother-in-law fought a long hard battle with ovarian cancer and died when she was only 48.  I've been told ovarian cancer is difficult to detect and often by the time it is detected, the cancer is very progressed.  Breast cancer and cervical cancer is much easier to detect and if something as simple as a slightly uncomfortable procedure can detect early on and give you a fighting chance, why not do it.  Maybe some day the medical profession will catch up to Star Trek and they will be able to detect all of these things with a scanner.  It's a good thing I didn't wait. I do the monthly breast exams (I'm a Zeta Tau Alpha alum. It was something they drilled into us in college along with appropriate social behavior).  My cancer wasn't big enough to be found during a physical exam.  But it did show up on the mammogram.

    The mammogram doctor suggested that they might be calcium spots and I could of course wait six months and check again. Did I mention I don't like going to the doctor.  My first thought was to go into denial and wait the six months, hoping it was all a bad dream. Fortunately, that last all of about 5 seconds and I said I'd rather not wait.  That meant a needle biopsy (oh and I'm needle phobic, so that was just a joyous experience) which did reveal that the spots were cancer and pre-cancer.  The surgeon also said that there were two more spots that should have been biopsied  and he wanted me to have that done before he scheduled surgery.  Oh, joy - more needles.  But I like and trust my surgeon. He gave me as much information as I could handle, stopped for questions any time I had them and gave my husband and I some alone time to absorb everything before continuing on.

    We opted to go for Breast Conservation Therapy (BCT - and I'm such an dorky Army wife that I kept think BCT - Brigade Combat Team).  Breast Conservation Therapy is a lumpectomy. As I said my spots (ok, the word is tumor, but I do seem to have a problem actually saying that) were small. So that seemed to be the route to go.  They did the second biopsy (those spots were negative - just calcifications) and then followed up with the lumpectomy in early January.  My lymph nodes were negative. They got all of the cancerous tumor, but not enough of a clear margin on the pre-cancerous one. So I'll be going back in at the end of this month for more surgery.

     That's my story in a nut shell (ok a large walnut shell).  There's more to be discussed: radiation for sure and maybe chemo,  how has this affected those around me, what are my resources, etc. And of course, since I'm a librarian (read that as bookaholic) I've begun to discover books related to cancer - fiction and non-fiction. I will be sharing those as well.

Are you going through something similar? Do you have a loved one you are supporting through something similar? Are you just looking for information?  Let me know. I'm not a doctor, so reading this blog is not a substitute for medical care. I'm not a therapist, so it's not a substitute for that kind of support either (though I'm sure it will be rather therapeutic for me.)  It can be a sounding board. It can be another support system if you need it.

     As I said, I'm very lucky. If this is a challenge I must face, God has blessed me with many resources and I want to "pay it forward."