Thursday, June 9, 2016
The Breast Cancer Chronicles: Volume One
Well, my friends, a new challenge lies ahead, and I hope you'll indulge me as I work through this one with my rantings and my art.
On Monday, I was officially diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Grade Three. This is the most common form of breast cancer diagnosed today. Unfortunately that doesn't make it any less serious.
I was lucky enough to be sitting in my counselor's office, concluding a session where we talked about how I likely had breast cancer. We talked about all of the love and support that I have, and that I had a really great attitude about it, looking to find the positive in everything. I was picking up my bag to leave when my phone rang. I took the call and heard it in the doctor's voice before I ever heard the words, "You have breast cancer." I listened. I took notes. I asked questions for clarification. I thanked the doctor and told him that I knew he had saved the lives of many of my friends and would save mine, too. No pressure. I laughed. I hung up. I said the words out loud for the first time, there with my counselor, "I have breast cancer." I said it again. And then I dissolved into a puddle of tears. I was so hoping to be wrong. I was not wrong. I knew when I first felt the lump a week and a half ago. I knew.
Four of the words that every woman most dreads hearing are, "You have breast cancer." "We have to talk," is a close second, and "It's not you...Really," are in close contention, but, "You have breast cancer," pretty much takes the cake. Like so many other strong, brave women (and men) now I have heard them. I have also said, "I have breast cancer," out loud, over and over, so I can almost always do it without crying. Almost. Yes, this is serious. Yes, I am scared. Yes, I am prepared to fight like hell and beat this effing disease.
And so, gloves laced on, the fight begins...
I have amazing friends and family who did all they could to keep me entertained, distracted, and fed through the weekend. I have a job and work family that are allowing me to take the time I need to do whatever is needed to defeat this beast. I have laughed and cried more in the last week than I have in a long time. That is good medicine.
YesterdayI had an MRI in which I was placed face-down, arms outstretched for flying into what can best be described asa milking machine position. Having had MRI's of several other parts through the years, all done lying on my back, imagine my surprise when told that those holes were for my "girls"! A regular MRI is loud and cramped, but not particularly uncomfortable. A post-breast-biopsy MRI is far less pleasant for sure. That said, the staff and the facility were amazing. They did everything possible to keep me calm and comfortable. No small feat, I promise you.
Tomorrow we meet with the surgeon to find out how far the disease has progressed and make plans for surgery and treatment.
I have breast cancer. It will not have me.
I am strong. I am determined. I am surrounded by warriors. My mother battled an "incurable" autoimmune disease and today is, in fact, cured. My father and grandfather kicked kidney cancer in the soft parts. The daughter I never had beat the pants off leukemia. The list goes on and on, so how could I do anything but fight like hell? My young friend, Lindsey Rose, coined the phrase, "Do whatcha gotta do," when she faced her battle. It worked for her, and it will certainly work for me.
|I gave Mom this boxing glove necklace when she was diagnosed with Systemic Schleroderma to remind her to fight that "incurable" disease. Today she is cured, and yesterday she gave it to me to remind me to fight my battle now. Gloves up! I'm coming out swinging! Love you, Mom!|
I am still the luckiest woman I know. The outpouring of love and support that I have already received is humbling, overwhelming, and appreciated more than I will ever find the words to express. It is amazing how kind people can be. Thank you all. My team is strong and mighty. We are tireless and relentless in our pursuit of healing. I have been well prepared to stay strong, to stay focused, to stay positive, and to get back up every time I fall.
Thank you for being my people. Thank you for helping me to stay strong, to fight, and to win. Thank you.