Week 2

So my biopsies came back well differentiated invasive ductal CA. No surprise with they ca type, it is the most common. Well differentiated was good. So now I know for sure it is CA. I told Jim and Elise. Jim gave me an introduction to an oncologist that it turns out is too busy to see me. I also let Ben and Alex know. It didn’t seem to affect Alex much, but it turns out Ben went home from work early. I don’t think I explained it well enough to him.

I met with the surgeon today and decided to have a unilateral mastectomy with a skin expander from the plastic surgeon. They don’t make me feel less guilty that I have have this cancer. Our visitors had to make their way to our house from the airport on their own (well, we arranged the super shuttle). We have kept busy, but the haunting hideous pictures of women post mastectomy are really bothering me. I feel I will be so deformed. Maybe I should just give it all up. I don’t know.

On a positive side, my E2 receptor is 100%, which is good, but it means I will need to be on an aromatase inhibitor for 10 years at least. I was always so proud I wasn’t on any meds…. and was healthy….

Notes of anything but Paradise- my journey through cancer

I guess as a physician, I have had to tell my patients bad news. One just never expects to get it themselves.

I prided myself in my healthy practices and how I am a boring patient. My first visit with my new primary care was that am and we both commented on how nice it is to have a boring (i.e. healthy) patient. I have run since I was 13 yo, but not finatically so I can still run at age 58. I am normal weight- not too high, not too low. I eat mostly fresh veggies, and not too much. I do indulge in sugar although I am trying to cut it out. I like a drink or 2 in the pm, but I can’t remember the last time I was really drunk. I have no relatives with breast cancer except my mother who was diagnosed a few months ago at age 86. My first kid was born when I was 32, but I breast fed both boys. In short, like many people diagnosed with cancer, I am thinking why me? Ok, I know it is some genes and some bad luck. But still…

I went in for my mammogram 2 days ago with my old films. I was not worried. I almost deferred my mammogram to Thanksgiving, some 4 months away, so I could save money. We are on a high deductible international health plan and I loathe spending money frivolously. I only found one place in the state of Colorado who would tell me up front how much a mammo would cost. It was not CU. Indeed, CU does not take self pay patients. But in the end, with not being welcomed to to visit Austin for a mammo (where I had had them done before when in the USA), I decided to bite the money bullet and go to CU Medical School. Colorado is not up to date on the latest diagnostics for breast cancer. A more progressive state would have required automated breast ultrasounds for every woman with dense breasts (which I have). But CU has the best technologies near Boulder so I booked my mammo there. It turned out, it didn’t matter. My mammo was obvious for cancer. Period.

So in shock I texted my husband the bad news and then drove home, thinking that I should have known when they called me in for more films and could fit me in the day they called me, that it was not a good sign. It all leaves one in a fog…

First stage of grief: Denial

Day 3 Biopsies

I called a friend of mine, someone I admire very much, who is undergoing radiation and chemo for lung cancer. Just bad luck on her part- she is a non smoker. Anyway when she called me back I did not offer to drive her to her appointment as I didn’t think I could deal with having my breast biopsies done and taking her to the oncology center. Maybe in a few days I can do that, but not the day of the biopsies.

We are not sleeping much. I have to stay busy to not think about it. 58 seems so young to me. I don’t want to be thought of as a person with cancer before people think of me as a person, and yet, I am guilty of that very thought process towards others.

So the biopsies were done, and while it hurt when the radiologist actually took the samples, it wasn’t too bad. I was sore that day but didn’t take any pain meds. My husband and I are trying to plan out things to do. It looks sometimes like my diagnosis upsets him more than it does me. When my mom was diagnosed in March, I couldn’t sleep and felt incredibly depressed for a long time. Now I feel only in a fog… a bad dream fog….

I am not telling any one until I get the pathology and know what I am going to have done which won’t be until next week. None the less, with a good friend with cancer, everyone brings their feeling up about cancer to me. It is hard.

When I talk to my kids I want to cry. Ben texted me the sweetest message today thanking us for how we brought him up. They are both planning on visiting in August- will I be post op? In radiation? (probably not yet) Will I be around to see them have kids? Reach their goals professionally? It all makes me sad. But self pity is an awful emotion and I try and work to keep it at bay.

Day 4

Little sleep last night for both of us, but less for Bruce. He reaches out to me- it must be hard. So we hiked Bear Peak today- the hardest hike in Boulder. Really good to do. And tonight we are joining friends for dinner. Must keep busy…. must keep busy….