10/20/2015

There is nothing like the chill that descends when you hear the worst possible news – I’m sure there are physical reasons why – but the body does recover quite quickly.  Having now experienced the “big chill” on multiple occasions, it has become just another response to this whole ordeal. First things first, my specialist wanted to find out as much as possible about the tumor so decisions could be made as to the best care possible.  From the mammogram, the tumor appeared to be between 1 – 2 cm which is considered fairly small, between stage 1 and 2 and not particularly scary.  Sadly, the ordered MRI showed the tumor to be closer to 5 cm (doc said could be shadow) and also found another issue which needed biopsy (turned out to be a hardened lymph node – so it does happen).  No lymph node activity showed up on the MRI or through physical examination so it was hopeful the cancer was contained.

Unknown to the majority of mankind, is an entire medical team waiting to pounce on each new cancer patient with their tests, procedures, recommendations and advice.  As the new kid on the cancer block, I had the pleasure of being introduced to ALL of them – which was somewhat overwhelming.  Once the initial shock dispersed, the feeling of being thrown to the wolves subsided and the brain started to compartmentalize the barrage of information.  Getting all the information at once felt like a hard sell at an auto dealer (did I really need all that treatment for such a small tumor) but in hindsight, it also allowed the processing to start and acceptance to set in as events evolved.

No definite answers can be given until surgery, as so much is an unknown and tests only tell part of the story.  In my case, the tests haven’t been overly reliable either.  Thankfully, things took a turn for the better when my biopsy came back hormone positive (there’s meds for that), BRCA gene negative (a great relief as I have daughters) and HER2 negative (not sure if this one is good or bad as there are meds for that now that work really well).  It was decided by my specialist that a lumpectomy would suffice and so surgery was scheduled.

Now came the good part.  I was told that as it was likely to be a disfiguring surgery, I was a candidate for complete reconstruction on both sides so everything would look AMAZING when complete.  OH BOY!  Being a rather over endowed person, I jumped at the chance for a reduction and even told the surgeon to make sure to take extra to ensure the cancer has been removed as I have plenty to spare.

I must commend my team for working around my crazy schedule as all of the above was worked around two children graduating – one high school and one college.  Due to their diligence and understanding, I was able to attend both graduations which seemed impossible when this unwanted ride started.  I was also due to spend a month overseas during the summer, which also seemed impossible.  However, they managed to pull everything together and, although it was dependent upon the results of the biopsy, only needing a lumpectomy also allowed me to travel – albeit in a more complicated fashion.

Sadly, what couldn’t be changed was my inability to attend festivals and events so I had to withdraw from multiple venues.  I have nothing but good to say for those that I contacted to withdraw and to ask for extra time to make fall decisions.  Every single one of them responded positively, with encouragement and where I had prepaid, refunded my booth fees – without being asked.  It was a blow but spring is more about getting out and being seen so I knew this was just a blip and fall would see my return.

The surgery was uneventful and now the waiting game began again as the pathology results became due.