I was working on another post for this week but I’ll postpone to do Nancy’s blogging challenge. Thank you Nancy from Nancy’s Point for organizing this!
1. Share anything you want about your cancer diagnosis (or your loved one’s). Share your age, cancer type, stage, when you were diagnosed, family history (if any), your reaction, how you learned the news, or whatever you’re comfortable sharing.
At the time of diagnosis, I was 37 years old. I had just finished breast feeding my son (I did it for 17 months, go me!) when I touched my right breast and felt a large lump. Breast cancer was common in my family so right away I was very suspicious. Still, I waited 2 weeks to make sure it wasn’t a blocked duct. After 2 weeks I felt again. Not only did I feel the lump still there, I felt a second one as well. I immediately went to my ob/gyn, who immediately got me an appointment with a breast surgeon.
One week, 1 sonogram, 4 biopsies and one mammogram later, I was officially diagnosed with breast cancer. My son was just 18 months old and I was so scared I remember thinking I was literally going to explode; that my body couldn’t hold in all the fear. It was terrible.
My official diagnosis was stage 2B breast cancer with lymph node involvement, ER+, PR-, Her2 low (almost Her2 positive, on the cusp and this qualified me for a clinical trial), grade 3. My course of treatment was a mastectomy (I chose to do a single), chemotherapy: 4 AC, 12 taxol, Herceptin as part of a clinical trial, 15 sessions of radiation (also a clinical trial), and 10 years of tamoxifen. I was also briefly on Zoladex but I couldn’t handle the side effects and my oncologist agreed that the loss of quality of life did not justify the small benefit of the drug.
Oh, and how I learned about my cancer…the asshole doctor who did the biopsy on me, after doing the biopsies said to me, “I’ll have the results for you tomorrow, just in time to ruin your weekend.” True story.
2. What is the most outrageous thing someone has said to you about your (or your loved one’s) cancer?
I think what the doctor said to me (see above) was pretty outrageous. I mean, who says that? The next day when he said matter of factly, “Well, it is cancer” also came out with the winner, “I don’t think this is going to kill you.” Well, jeez…
3. What is your biggest cancer pet peeve? I know it’s hard to choose, as there are many to pick from, right? But what irks you the most?
I hated it when people would tell me that I was going to be “fine.” That word, “fine” would send me into a tailspin of anger. It diminished the severity of the situation as just a nuisance and it was so much more than that. It was life altering.
4. What is something you want others to know specifically about breast cancer?
I want others to know that you don’t need to be older to get it. Many young women develop the disease as well.
I want others to know that getting breast cancer doesn’t mean you have to be changed for the better because of it. You can be changed for the worse. It’s a terrible thing to have happened. That doesn’t mean don’t find positivity and beauty in the experience but there’s so much pressure to be better because of it, as if you weren’t pretty fucking great before cancer.
5. If applicable, do you worry about recurrence rarely, from time to time or a lot? What is your biggest worry today, right now, this minute?
I worry about recurrence EVERY SINGLE DAY. Being young, with an aggressive cancer, I feel like a ticking time bomb. Especially seeing others develop recurrence, it’s something I fear all the time. Every head ache, stomach pain, gas pain, bloody nose is my cancer. It’s a rough way to live.
6. Do you feel cancer has made you a better person? Yes, I know this a loaded question. If you do, specifically in what way?
Nope. I think I was a pretty good person before cancer and cancer interrupted my flow.
7. What is your favorite cancer book?
I didn’t read many but When Breath Becomes Air was exquisite.
8. Besides your family, where do you turn for emotional support?
An ice cream container.
Other women my age that I met through 5 Under 40.
9. How many cancer blogs do you read and why do you read them?
Up until 6 months ago I read dozens but recently I needed to take a step back. I’ve been so distraught by the current political climate that it has all become too much. I haven’t been writing as much either. I just need a break.
10. Do you call yourself an advocate? If so, what drives you?
I think when I was blogging more I did call myself an advocate but I’m not so much right now. When I’m ready, I’d like to jump back in, help others who are newly diagnosed and finally get to work on my theatre piece (working with survivor’s personal stories to create original theatre).
Thanks again, Nancy!!!!