Only about 12 percent of women in their lifetime will take this journey. I’m one of the chosen ones.
Time for a Trip to the Beach
I’ve never gone to a nude beach or even a topless one. I’ve never even been tempted. In fact, it would be so embarrassing, I don’t think’ I’d ever recover.
For the last two years, my mammogram reports told me that I have dense breasts. I took that as a compliment. A big improvement, I thought and bragged about them to my friends. Wahoo! Time for a trip to the beach! Finally, something to show off.
A busty friend of mine laughed, “Me too!”
That was a good sign. Maybe they were finally growing after 65 years, but I wasn’t ready for the big reveal yet. They still seemed about the same to me.
A year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for Brachytherapy, had a little insert and five days of intensive radiation directly on the spot and poof, all good again.
That was her, this is me. No worries.
Sometime between this year and last year’s mammogram, I noticed a dimple in my left breast. Should I have rushed back and had another mammogram??? It was just a little dimple. I love dimples, and I’ve put on a few pounds so I didn’t think a thing about it. Apparently, my decision was wrong.
On June 11 the W.I.S.H. clinic in Fresno called me with the news that I have breast cancer.
Not that it will mean anything to you and it’s TMI but I’m going to bore you anyway. Clinically I have a Stage IT1cN0M0 Grade 1ER+ (estrogen) PR+ (progesterone) and her2-
What does all that mean? The surgeon explained it as she scribbled it on my report for me but I still had to google it.
Tumor size (T)
- T1—Smaller than 2 cm (about 1 inch) Of course, I only have about five inches by two inches of breast tissue altogether on a good day. So that’s about 10-20% for me. The surgeon said, “You might be a bit asymmetrical after surgery. Vince kindly said, “I love asymmetrical!”
Nodes (N): Lymph nodes under the arm and neck
- N0—No lymph node involvement
Metastases (M): means whether cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm, or “metastasized”
- M0—No spread outside the breast and lymph nodes https://breast360.org/topics/2017/01/01/clinical-staging-breast-cancer/
Seriously, I thought, “No biggie. Just get it done, recuperate for a couple of weeks and get on with life. Why does everyone get so worked up about a simple lumpectomy?
A simple lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation five days a week, then an anti-hormone drug for five to seven years. Then, if I’m still alive, I’m done, unless it comes back.
Unexpected Obstacle on the Journey
Okay, even that’s not bad, very doable. But then I found out that I have to stay completely away from my kitties. Now that hurt! They can’t get on my lap or anywhere close to my face.
They have nasty dander.
I can’t clean litter boxes. Now that’s a shame, don’t you think?
I can’t do anything for a week after surgery. No dishes, no making the bed, no vacuuming, no watering the garden, not even walking the dog. I can work in the garden, though if I don’t lift anything. That’s easy, right?
“And you’re going to feel good,” Cindy, the adorable PA said.
“I do everything anyway,” Vince quipped. “A whole week? Really?”
“You can watch tv and read, but only spend an hour on the computer. You need to walk around every hour or so. You can’t exercise until the surgeon tells you it’s okay. Gosh, it’s like a vaca.
I can’t eat at a smorgasbord restaurant. That limits things in rural Woodlake. Vince won’t go near one anyway. Too many hands in the food for my sweet germaphobe.
One in Eight Women Will Go on this Journey
My surgeon told me to tell my friends not to ignore the signs like I did. As an obedient patient, I’m telling you my story so you will be careful. Most women don’t die from breast cancer because it’s treatable. But look at how involved it is to have the lowest grade and stage of a slow-growing type of cancer.
So as I start this journey, feel free to share your experiences with me, and through me, with others that might one day have to go on the journey themselves. See you along the path.