First Notes

Hi everyone,
At the request of my dear mother-in-law, I'm writing a little synopsis of my day at Beaumont. Feel free to forward this to anyone that is interested...this little journey of ours is probably going to be pretty obvious soon enough!

So as a review for some of you, I felt a lump in my right breast about 3 weeks ago (while on vacation), made an appointment with my doctor right when I returned and saw him on that Tuesday. He sent me to Beaumont last Friday where I had a mammogram, an ultrasound, and then a biopsy. I found out on Monday night when my doctor called that I have breast cancer, specifically, invasive ductal carcinoma (which means it started in a duct, but has spread out of it). This is a kind of cancer that 90% of breast cancer patients will have...the only unusual part of this is that I'm only 34 years old! But crazy things do happen, and we all know that.

So I met with a breast surgeon today at Beaumont, and the nurse that follows her. It was very interesting, as they were totally prepared, had binders of information ready for me, have already called other people who need to know , like the oncologist. I have more tests out that will help decide the treatment plan, specifically, whether this mass (it is 1.2 cm, a poorly differentiated mass which means it looks nothing like regular breast tissue, it's a grade 3 which means it has an aggressive growth pattern. Again, that is not unusual for someone young who presents with cancer.) is hormone-sensitive or not. If it is, then I will probably start chemotherapy right away, as it would most likely respond to a certain type of chemotherapy and it would shrink the cancer before surgery.

I also have genetic testing scheduled, which is always suggested in a young person. That would determine things for my female relations, but it would also determine whether or not I need to have my ovaries removed also (at a later date). I'll soon have an MRI, and a chest x-ray as well which will help the surgeon prep for surgery and determine some of our path.

Because I am young, regardless whether the the mass is hormone-sensitive, I will have to have chemotherapy (most people lose their hair, etc). Since the hope is that I'll live for another 50 years, they want to make sure that any little cancer cell that may have escaped is totally eradicated and won't show up elsewhere. Also because I am young, I'll probably elect to have a double masectomy rather than anything else (which would be a lumpectomy and radiation). It's going to be a huge pain and more recovery, etc. than a lumpectomy would be, but the thought process is that if this could happen to me at 34, than what might come back at 39, and do I really want to have to go through this again? As you know, the statistics say that 1 out of 8 women will have breast cancer in their lifetime, and if I already show a proclivity towards it, I might as well do everything I can to prevent it from surfacing again!

So apparently, 2008 is going to be a crazy year...the surgeries and doctors' appointments and physical changes are going to be very interesting, time-consuming, etc. I feel very lucky to have a supportive network of family and friends because although I am feeling ok and even upbeat about this now, I am sure I will have my moments coming up! My biggest concern lies, of course, with my children and my husband and I know it is going to be a huge change for them to see me without hair, unable to tear up the yard this spring, not taking on all the home renovations I am always taking on, no rowing, etc. I've been telling them I'll take this year to do all of the things I haven't done yet that involve me being more sedentary! Emma did tell me that I'll be able to wear a pink "survivor" shirt at the 3-day walk for Breast Cancer this fall, and though that wasn't my goal, perhaps, I did thank her for reminding me of a very good goal and a fun way to spend my time! (I can hear the neighbors now: "Why, that is the 3rd time I've seen that hairless woman walking past this house today! Whatever is she doing?")

A very special thanks to all of the people who have called, sent food, or sent good thoughts our way. An extra-special thanks to everyone who supported my 3-day walk last fall, as I feel a bit comforted knowing that I am not even close to being alone in this, and the 3-day walk gave me that powerful message that is helping me today. So THANK YOU!


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