Thursday, August 21, 2008

It comes down to this...

  • On July 28th I found a lump in my left breast
  • On July 30th I had a mammogram and sonogram
  • On July 31th I had a biopsy
  • On August 4th I found out that I have an Invasive Ductal Carcinoma.
  • On August 8th I had an MRI
  • On August 12th I met my Radiation Oncologist and discussed treatment options
  • On August 13th I met with my surgeon to schedule the surgery
  • On August 26th I'll have a lumpectomy.
  • Sometime after that, if all goes well, I'll have radiation (MammoSite RTS) twice a day for five days (if there's not enough healthy tissue left I'll have seven weeks of conventional radiation)
  • Sometime after that, I'll start chemo.
That's my life right now. I'll go for hours and forget all about it and then something reminds me that, oh yeah, I have breast cancer. When it's on my mind I can't concentrate on anything else. Work is getting to be joke right now but I think my boss and coworkers understand. I have a lot of stuff to get done before I leave next week but I just can't muster up enough brain cells to think about them right now. Time is running out though and I must force myself to concentrate on the tasks at hand for a little while.

My boss is okay with me working from home while I'm off. I'm taking my laptop home and there will be a spare one on my desk for those days when I feel like coming to work. I'll officially be on sick leave (because my employer doesn't have a "work from home policy" in place) but at least I won't have to come back to a mountain of work. I'm the only one here who can do my job (webmaster) so except for emergency postings that will be done by one of my coworkers following my written documentation, everything else will sit and wait for me to get to it.

I think I have a good attitude. My friends say I'm taking it very well. I haven't had any breakdowns, though I came close when I found out the the tumor is most likely triple negative. The surgeon said that the biopsy only samples a very small portion of the tumor and the pathology report after the surgery may show that there are some positive hormone receptors in the much larger sample that is examined. If there's even one positive cell in the sample then I'll receive the hormone treatments. Otherwise, I'll just have the radiation and chemo and then wait. I couldn't have regular breast cancer, oh no, I had to have triple negative breast cancer. But I'm not complaining because there are worse kinds of breast cancer and worse kinds to cancer in general. Breast cancer is highly treatable these days.

And by the way, all you ladies out there who are reading this and saying to yourselves that you don't have anything to worry about because there's no history of breast cancer in your family should WAKE UP AND DO YOUR BREAST EXAM RIGHT NOW (unless you're at work, of course) because the only history in my family was a great-aunt on my father's side.

I never thought of getting breast cancer for that very reason although I did do my exams. You see, cancer has cut quite a swath through my family, but not breast cancer. My mother and her mother both died of colon cancer and I have regular colonoscopies because of that. My father died of lung and brain cancer, and my half sister (dad's daughter) has kidney cancer. Everyone who didn't die of cancer died of heart disease. So breast cancer took me by surprise.

Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic husband, great friends and coworkers, a wonderful local breast cancer awareness program and good medical facilities very close by. I'm more curious than scared at this point.

My wonderful sister-in-law from Santa Fe sent me a beautiful Zuni horse fetish that I've been wearing in my bra. According to my research "the horse is an animal of freedom and the horse fetish has the power of healing, strength and safe movement". I'm knitting a pouch for him right now that I can fasten to my bra so I don't have to keep feeling myself to make sure he's still there. I've named him Victor (the Lone Ranger's nephew's horse's name, from A Christmas Story).

He's my constant companion now and probably will be for the rest of my life. Isn't he beautiful? I think he's carved from marble with veins of pyrite. Thank you, Robin, for sending him to me.

He's posing with my latest pair of baby socks. They're Koigu and the pattern is Miriam Felton's Infant to Toddler Sized Socks. We've given away all we had so I've been working on these when I get the chance and hope to complete some more while I'm off from work. So, that's how it stands right now. I'll update the blog again after the surgery but I don't want this to turn into a "breast cancer blog". It's all about the knitting!