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Dates and Details

February 25-Mammogram
March 15-MRI
March 19-Core Biopsy
March 23-Cancer Diagnosis
April 14-Double Mastectomy
May 24-Oncologist Meeting
June 7 - Starting Tamoxifen Therapy
August 25 - Reconstruction Surgery
August 27 -Yale Second Opinion
August 31 - "Reconstruction" Complete

It has been confirmed:
No Chemo or Radiation is required

Feb.1 The Story Starts
March 2010
« Feb   Apr »

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    Archive for March, 2010

    “D-Day”, The Confirmed Diagnosis

    With the rounds of mammograms, MRIs, biopsies, needle aspirations and scans, we knew the news would be coming.  An appointment had been set to meet with my doctor in a few days, but in advance, I received a personal on March 23 call from Dr. Provonost.  With outstanding grace and compassion she gave me the news. I had breast cancer.  Not fully known but considered to be between Stage 1 and 2.  All information tied to the aggressiveness or spread of the cancer will come after the breast is removed.  But, the unknown period was now over. 

    I had my questions ready and rattled them ..

    Was my cancer hereditary tied to my mother’s breast cancer?..Answer was no, as mom was 70 at diagnosis and my cancer was a different form. 

    How long would I need to plan to recover?  Answer was 4 weeks to recover from the mastectomy, but the treatments of chemo and/or radiation could not be determined until after the breast removal.   

    What did this mean in terms of risk to our daughters, my sister and others in the family?  Answer was – I’d be tested for genetically links and then we’d take it from there.

    I hung up the phone.  I was home alone and surprisingly not in shock, but quite scared as possible reality which now became complete reality.  Wanting to tell Bruce was immediate to let him know, but I waited until he came home as to not disrupt his day.  Upon arrival that evening, I shared with him all the details.  His strength in his denial stages vanished, but his new found strength grew.  He was still able to look me lovingly in the eyes and say, we’ll be OK.  You will be fine, you know that.  I know that and you will never know. (You will never know has been his  line for  over 13 years — tied to the amount of his love to me).

    I did know I would be fine and will be fine.  I would now go through the text book standard procedures of addressing and combating cancer.  Doctors would take care of me and I trusted my circle of care tremendously.  But I worried more about Bruce, my husband who would watch from the sidelines and hurt more as a by stander watching what I would go through. 

    We’ve never been closer and if we could possibly could ever get to the next stage of soul mates bound in love and faith…cancer brought us that beauty.    Bruce, YOU HAVE NO IDEA!

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    The Biopsy Day

    Just tell me! I quickly became exhausted of the tests and the “drip feed” approach of things weren’t looking too good.  The soft direction to start planning from some procedures and treatments.  OK, tell me it direct.  I can take it, I’ve planned for the worst, bring it on. 

    Really, it sounds a bit cold hearted, but after three – four weeks of planning and reversing downward spirals I was more than ready.  My plan was mapped out, I felt in control and just need to know. The biopsy was the last step before getting final confirmation…and that was Friday, March 19th. 

    As a avid keeper of my medical records now, I personally had read all the documentation, and of course googled it all.  Too much information can be a bad thing, but in this case, it prepared me.  I knew there was a slim to none chance that cancer was not in the cards.

    So, I was admitted to the hospital, prepped for a core biopsy…actually two.   Not terribly painful as they numb up all the bits they work on.  Slightly awkward in how you need to lay on the table, breast through a table cut out and just a bit uncomfortable.  I’m tough, so not a big deal.

    After about an hour, both biopsy sections were complete and I moved to the next room for a lymph node needle aspiration.  Uncomfortable poking and prodding, but again, not terrible. 

    It was at this point where my doctor started the serious planning conversation.  Never confirmed that is was cancer and noted the biopsy would tell us that, but to prepare…….I was happy I prepared for the worse weeks back, and the message came across as just a next step in the plan.

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    The MRI Day

    Things moved along quite quickly and from the rapid nature of me getting immediate appointments, I could not help but feel the severity of what the reports were pointing to. 

    So, I got booked into a 8:15pm MRI appointment ahead of my biopsy.  Once again, it showed me that the signs were not good.  An MRI is typically done after the biopsy with the hope that cancer would be ruled out.  Not this time, I was scheduled and an MRI was my next step.

    I sat frozen at home unable to feel ready to leave the house.  I headed to the front door with Bruce waiting in the car warmed up….and I turned back.  I turned back to help eliminate the uncertainty of the experience. I quickly hoped onto a laptop in the kitchen, went to YouTube and typed – “what does an MRI sound like” – within a second I felt calmed.

    What to me was a scary unknown, was now nothing more than a loud alarm clock buzz that I knew I could even sleep through.  One more tactic to take away the unknown, and be in control of the situation. 

    For those possibly preparing for their MRI – want another priceless tip?  For me, I couldn’t use my hair tie since it had a metal bit on it.  I quickly thought how uncomfortable it’d be face down into the tube with disheveled hair making me feel trapped.  A personal side note for me, but the nurse getting a rubber band made all the difference for me.  Rest assured, MRI is not a terrible thing at all.  Count the “beeps” and you are done before you know it!

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    The Third “10 Days”

    I took time for my first “10 days” to allow for the grieving and downward spiral…to get the emotions out and face the worst fears.  Second “10 Days” were to organize and do the necessary housekeeping on all fronts. 

    …The third round of my next “10 Days” served to be the most difficult.  Starting to tell people.  I felt blessed that our girls were 3 & 4 and that for all intense purpose, they could go unharmed from it for now.  One day they would know all about what mom went through, but nice that they could still only sing me nursery rhymes on some of my worst tear filled days.

    Who do I start to open up?  How do I come to terms with the pain people will feel at the sound of the news?  How do I let everyone know that everything will truly be perfect in the end?  Well, I thought I’d just go for it.

    I created a list of “10 people in 10 days”.  The list composed of the people we are most close to, those that needed to be the first to know.  The list then went across to people that just were the perfect support and in a position to provide wonderful support.  Next the list was tied to those people we just didn’t want to find out in a mass email so the list went quickly beyond “10″, but all the more was helpful for me to share the news and come to terms with facing the reality…and to be honest, to prepare myself for the news to tell my parents.  As a mom of daughters, I knew the hurt a mother would feel.  Part of me thought best to share with her before others, but in the end, I was all the more stronger to deliver the news to mom and dad in a straight forward delivery…situation, action and the intended positive result.

    In the meantime, each call made us realize what difficult news it was to share and the impact on those that loved us.  So the “10 in 10″ grew, but quickly we realized, we could never reach everyone that we wanted to tell personally.  Others said to us that everyone would understand, so I thank everyone that looks forward to getting a personal update and outreach when we are out of the woods and time back on our side.  We’ll always be here, but are going into a bit of under cover for a few months.

    Rest assured, we’ll be back —better than ever!  Please add comments as messages to us on each post here.  All will be read and responded to as we are able.  Many thanks for all your support in advance!

    Tax Document Archive Made Me Think

    Amoungst everything that was going on in our lives and my health, it was dreaded tax filing preparation time – IRS calls, we listen.  Our filing means two solid days of sorting through the filing cabinet catch all.  Not fun days, but a necessary evil and the due diligence of thorough detail for rest ful minds on the possiblity of auditing in the future. 

    But I stopped in my tracks.  We have 10 years of all our filing documents, assoicated receipts and back up – but I have nothing tied to my medical history!  What makes us not all keep just as complete if not more complete records of our health?  I’m surprised I had not thought of it before, but bring it up as a suggestion you may want to act on.  A simple written request gives you copies of your health record from your doctor offices. 

    We pass on wedding albums as history?  I feel blessed that I can now pass on history to help the health of our daughters and generations to come.  (of course with our gorgeous wedding albums too!)

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