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Friday, October 28, 2016

The Beautiful People, Part IV

Breast cancer does not discriminate nor does it "play fair". Breast cancer can strike at any age and knows no social boundaries. Both men and women are affected. Here is another reminder that each story is so different. Meet Andee-

"Here's part of my story....I believe that we, as human beings, are body and mind and spirit.  I believe that one's body must be in balance with one's mind.  And that one's soul plays an important part, the major part, the crucial part, in one's life.  .............I'm a small woman with large breasts, and I wear an underwire bra.  In Sept. 2014, the underwire was really irritating me on my right breast and kept poking me. I kept shifting the underwire around, trying to get comfortable, thinking, "Great, my boobs are getting bigger and I'm popping out of my bra. Time to get re-sized."  So I went and got fitted, and sure enough, I went up another size.  Awesome.  About a month later, the underwire was hitting the same spot again, and I couldn't believe it.  Did I go up another size again?!  So I was feeling the area, trying to figure out how the end of the underwire could be poking me so hard when lo and behold, I found a hard little nugget in my breast.  A definite lump.  Believe it or not, I didn't think much of it.  I Googled "underwire causing irritation" or something like that and I got hits that said yeah, the underwire can cause irritations and sometimes cysts but they're harmless...!  Harmless.  Nowhere did it say: Get Checked.  You have to understand that at this point in my life I was really busy, and really stressed at work, and also at home.  I didn't have time to worry about underwires, soreness and large boobs.  But I had it in the back of my mind to call my doctor, and I did.   But insurance doesn't pay for more than one yearly exam and pap smear, so the doctor's office told me I had to wait until November for the annual check up to be covered through insurance.  And my mammogram comes up in December.  Finally in November I went to the doctor, she felt the lump and said I needed to get a mammogram, and I said yes, I have one in December. She said, no...Now!   Two days later, on a Friday, I was getting a mammogram and biopsy.  I had to wait the weekend to get the results. In the middle of a very busy Monday, juggling two meetings, the technician called. Nothing rocks your world like getting that news. Nothing.  Your world flips.  Time slows down.  Suddenly everything is different, your world shrinks, and nothing prepares you for it.  And yet, I was calm.  My reaction was one of complete sadness and loss.  I was so disappointed.  Profoundly disappointed that my life might just be over. This was it.  The moment when you realize you have to leave this earth, and it was the most unbelievable level of sadness you can imagine.  I stayed in this state for several days, mourning the fact that my life was likely over.  I didn't deny anything, or blow past it, and stayed with this news, but then I got angry about it for a day, or two.  Or three.  Just mad.   I processed it, I was still shocked at the diagnosis, and thought about how unfair it was.  Not the 'why me? Refrain but just that it was unfair to me, in my life, to have to leave and I didn't want to go.  I wasn't ready.  Then I realized that I REALLY didn't want to leave, wasn't ready to die, or let go.  I wanted to live, I wanted to be here. From that moment on, I accepted the diagnosis as a challenge in my life, an obstacle, something I needed to get through.  It was one more mountain to climb in this crazy life of mine.  Once I decided to 'stay', I felt better.  Not great. But better than the awful disappointment of giving up and dying. My diagnosis was Stage 2B, HER2 Positive. A clinical trial was available and I took it.  I was diagnosed Nov 17, 2014, and I had my first chemo on Dec 23rd, and cooked Christmas dinner two days later.  I didn't know!  I cooked poached salmon just as the nausea started hitting me badly.  That was horrible!  But.  After three chemo treatments, the tumor shrunk by 1/3.  By the 6th chemo the cancer cells had disappeared.  I've had tests, blood labs, MRI's, PETscans.  That cancer was gone.  The doctors knew I would do well in the trial since the drugs they used had been successful, but didn't know I would do as well as I did.  In may 2015, I had a lumpectomy to remove the dead tissue and create clear margins around it.  A month later I began 6 weeks of daily radiation.  I protested this much radiation, but it was part of the clinical trial and they all said, better safe than sorry.  How can you argue with that?  Part of the treatment included 12 more chemo treatments but they did not include Taxotere or Carboplatin, the two main chemo drugs that are effective (sort of) but which make you really sick.  It wasn't fun doing these treatments, but it was totally manageable. I finished that in January 2016.  It's October 2016 now and I've spent this year getting my strength back with acupuncture, supplements, physical therapy, special massage, meditation, and joyfully living.  I'm cancer-free, and healthy after this long, strange journey.  Now that everything is healed, on November 1st, I'm going for a consultation to a plastic surgeon for the lumpectomy related effects.  My breasts are uneven from having taken out so much tissue on the right side.  You can imagine this is kind of a mixed blessing.   I don't really want another surgery, but they will have to reduce the left breast to match the smaller right one.  Perhaps I can live with that.!  Perhaps a smaller set of breasts!  Maybe no more underwire....That would be nice!  In the meantime, Sending love and prayers to Tika and all the other women for continued healing and a happy, healthy life."

I'm thankful this love and these prayers. Join us in praying for all the other women affected by breast cancer, for their continued healing and a happy, healthy life💗

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