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….

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