As the holidays wind down and the New Year approaches I said I would stop using Pink Tulip as just my cancer blog and would start blogging about other things as well. It won’t all be personal stuff like where I went for dinner last night, my life is too boring. I’ll comment on things that tickle my fancy, issues that I think are interesting, breast cancer, my work and yes, I promise to share stories of all the adventures I have ahead of me!
I did want to say one last thing about breast cancer for those of you who will probably stop reading. Early detection is still the key to survival—this is true for all cancers but we can take charge of finding breast cancer. There are debates everywhere about the value of monthly exams, MRIs, and mammograms. First off, if you only do a breast exam every 6 months when you hear about another woman with breast cancer your chances of finding cancer are low, your chances of finding a lump are actually high. Ladies, get to know your girls! We all have lumps in our breasts, I have several cysts and benign growths in mine, once you know where they all are you can rule them out and just focus on anything new. But, if you find a lump for the first time or even after 2 years of breast exams go see a doctor. Remember, the lump that started this journey wasn’t cancer but because I went in to have it checked they found my cancer. If you chose not to do exams make sure you have regular mammograms! Again, know your girls and make sure your doctor does too. My prognosis is what it is because I took charge from the beginning. In the past 10 years the statistics for breast cancer are both saddening and fantastic. Ten years ago they predicted 1 out of 9 women would get breast cancer, today it’s 1 out 8 (that’s an increase of millions). But, the survival rate, the treatments and what they know has improved dramatically! I don’t know the new numbers since the proceedings from the most recent meetings still aren’t published but early detection is the key and the programs are helping.
If any of you ever even begin this journey after you call your significant other, parents and/or kids call me! I will talk you through the entire process, hold your hand during the biopsy if you need a hand (trust me, they can’t numb your aureole you’ll need someone to help you relax between punches), sit in the “bad waiting room” with you, ask the surgeon all the questions I forgot to ask and take you to and from the doctor. I had friends, family, strangers, and Ted to do this for me but it sometimes helps just to have someone who will sit there and can really and truly say “I know what you’re going through”.
I can’t begin to tell you all the emotions that I have associated with this journey. From the night we discovered the lump in my breast until the day of my biopsy when the radiologist said “I’m not so concerned about the first lump but I am very concerned about the second one” I really felt like this was just another false alarm and I was worrying for nothing. I kept saying it’s going to be okay, I know I’m just being a ninny and nothing is wrong. When the radiologist said what she said all I could think was not me, not now given everything that is going on in my personal life and who is going to take care of Tiger Lily. When she called me to let me know that I really did have cancer I felt like my world had finished crashing around me. One of the hardest things I had to do was to call my mother and tell her I had cancer. I can only imagine the emotions she felt. The roller coaster that was my life after the diagnosis until that day in August when my oncologist called to say no chemo was an eye opening experience into how to survive day to day. Most of you traveled that journey with me. By the time they removed the original lump in September I pretty much could have taken on anything. I am stronger than I thought possible.
I survived one hell of a summer and am ready to start living again; I have a lot of living to do too. We can only go forward, I don’t want my old life back (or the man I shared it with) and I want to experience all the things I put on hold over the years while I waited for Ted to want to share them with me. You could say I’m sort of like a butterfly that is breaking free of the bonds of her chrysalis and ready to spread her wings and fly. I will start with baby steps though……
Happy New Year