I have met a lot of wonderful people here on GA over the last couple months. Most of you have welcomed me with open arms and hearts. Time for me to open up a bit more for you guys and answer the unasked questions about some of the things i have said. I am pretty open about most things in my life, and I think its pretty important to be very open about this one. If it helps even one person to get through a tough time it is more than worth it!
Last summer i went for my annual boob smushing ( what my circle of friends call our annual mammograms). The results were not my usual smile from the doc and a "see you next year". That visit started what has been the most difficult year of my life.
The short version? Biopsy, then surgery, then a period of hell called waiting for the pathology results, chemo, radiation, and finally a maintenance program of an estrogen inhibitor medication which will probably be for the rest of my life.
I think the worst was the waiting on results at each step. My mother died almost a decade ago from complications of breast cancer, so I was intimately familiar with every set of possibilities having taken her to every appointment from finding the lump thru the day she passed. Believe me, knowing did NOT make it any easier.
Chemo .....well thank the powers that be that most of you will never experience it . Basically its pumping the human body full of poison in hopes it kills off the cancer before it gets you. Radiation- not a whole lot better. No sick to your stomach etc but the burning on the surface can get.....difficult to deal with. The most common misconception is that its biggest side effect beyond the fatigue it causes is the equivalent of sun poisioning. I have on one or two occasions been stupid enough to stay out in the sun long enough to blister- it is NOT the same! Not everyone burns as badly as I did but it is a possibility. If these sorts of burns were to have been caused buy getting clumsy with a pot of boiling water most emergency rooms would send the person to a burn unit.
A few thoughts for people out there with loved ones facing this and other forms of cancer..........
Women - don't I repeat DON"T get 'too busy' to have your annual! Mine found the problem at stage 1, the best shot at a cure. The tumor was still so small the surgeon could not feel it and a special ultrasound guided biopsy was needed. Yes they are uncomfortable but soooooo worth the head start they can give you in this fight.
Men and friends - BE PATIENT with the lady going thru it. Our bodies are being messed with, chemistry being totally thrown out of whack, hormones going wacky, not to mention the twisting in our heads. Hold us - hug us - and don't go telling us we are being ridiculous even if we are!
Actually that can pretty much go for any cancer patient.
Please note, I said patient, NOT victim. I have no intention of being a victim in all of this.
Each step of the way various health care professionals told me once I hit the five year mark with no relapses I can call myself cured. No one seemed to agree on when you start counting tho. The surgeon called the day he removed the tumor day one since theoretically the cancer was gone at that point. Each doctors office along the way had similar viewpoints. So I chose Feb 1 as my "New Years Day" this year. I had my last radiation treatment on Jan 31, and started counting my 5 years the next morning. 143 days down, 1682 to go.
Anyone who wants a little extra support through something similar feel free to pm me. I know I'm really just a stranger, typed words on a screen, but sometimes its easier to talk to someone you don't have to face every day and who had been through similar hardships. I wouldn't have made it without losing my mind if it hadn't been for a very good friend I had met in a chat room years ago. The fact that I have never seen him does not change the fact that he was there for me every step and I love him for it!