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."