Catching up on recent history, this is the email I started to send out pre-surgery. I never did finish sending it out.
“As you know, I haven’t been feeling well for quite a while, and it turns out that maybe there’s a reason for it. Long story short, I have invasive, fast-growing breast cancer. YIKES. I’m sorry to break this news via e-mail, but so it goes.
My first reaction was “Holy crap, this can’t be happening!” but I’ve seen the news confirmed 5 ways to Sunday (mammograms, MRI, ultrasound, biopsy, pathology report, 2nd opinion pathology report, 2 breast surgeons, 2 oncologists)….and that cancer has to come out, no two ways about it.
Surgery (double eeks) is planned for Thursday Mar 29, but there are still so many test results coming back I don’t know if it’ll happen then, or in the weeks following. Each day is a new day bringing new news, sometimes good, mostly bad and worse. Since the radiologist gave me the bad news on Mar 13, I can’t predict the shape of each day.
We know that I have 3 cm invasive tumor in my right breast, surrounded (kind of) by 5 cms of ductal carcinoma in situ. It’s too big of a tumor to guarantee that chemo can save my right breast without deforming it terribly, so off it comes. I know – EEKS. Sorry to be so blunt. I might get it rebuilt later 🙂 🙂 …but that’s 12 -18 months away.
Frankly, I’m more freaked out about chemo than surgery, and since I have to have at least 4 months of chemo starting 3-6 weeks after surgery, I don’t want it before hand. Though apparently the good news with chemo these days is that it’s not like in the movies (side effects such as losing hair are not obligatory), and many women go back to work in between sessions (infusions every 2 weeks). So, I hope to keep working, etc. etc.
I think my local crew can help around surgery, it’s the 4-6 months of chemo where it gets to be a long haul and my poor family is just going to be really burned out and that’s when I’ll need a lot of support. My parents, and my brother and his wife might need support too, though that’ll be their call.
I wanted to let you all know as a group, because these things can be hard, and with us all the same age, it’s been hitting various girlfriends hard. Feel free to share the news if you want – it builds awareness. My cancer was caught on a routine mammogram, which I’ve gotten every year since I was 35. If you don’t do some sort of screening, NOW is the time to start. Tell your girlfriends. Even without health insurance, there are free public health screening programs.
If you have questions in the next few weeks, my friend Lizzy here in Portland will be my local volunteer and communications coordinator for the month of April, and when my friend Mariana gets back in May she’ll take that job on.
These days I can’t really talk because I’m fielding calls from doctors, but in a few weeks I’d love a call. In the meantime, Lizzy may well be able to get back to you faster than I can. Her email is (ask me). I’ll add you to her “updates about Amanda” email list, but if you’re having a hard time yourself and do NOT want to get email updates, I totally understand, just ask Lizzy to take you off the list.
Today I’m fasting before a 3 hour PET scan (it measures cell metabolism, I think), but I’m mostly done with the tests that are on me, thank goodness. (After this the tests will be on the tumor.) In the last 20 days I’ve had 4 biopsies (OUCH), an MRI, a CAT scan, a bazillion blood tests, and umpteen drs appts, etc. etc. (Can I just say that I am SO ready to buy my own hospital gown!! The Oregon Breast Center had these pretty purple gowns that tied in the front, those rocked.)
I hope this wasn’t too shocking, I just wanted to let you know. Oh, and not to be scared – survival rates these days are pretty darn good. Gotta love that. For many women this is just a small bump in the road of life.
Plus I have a stellar medical strategy team, so I have an extra edge. My SIL sooo rocks. …
Deep breaths, it’ll all be ok…..
Love to you all,