I have breast cancer. As I say this I'm still not sure I believe it. But it's a fact.

Why are you telling me this? Many of you are reading this as long-time friends of mine. You are here to get more details than I could provide in a short email, so I am writing this as if we were having a conversation.

Others are one-time customers or acquaintances. If you are not interested that is perfectly okay. I totally understand!

Still others have just been diagnosed with breast cancer themselves. I found other women's blog posts incredibly helpful when I first learned of my cancer, so I am hoping to pass it on.

When did you learn you had breast cancer? I received the confirmation on March 28.

How did you suspect there was a problem? I had a sore nipple for a couple of weeks in early March. When it didn't clear up I went to my primary care physician. She sent me for a diagnostic mammogram. After several recalls into the mammography unit that day followed by an ultrasound, the physician said I needed a biopsy. Actually 3 to 5 biopsies. At that point I figured there was a problem. (DUH!)

What type of cancer do you have? I have 4 confirmed spots, two on each side. The two on the right are DCIS. All of them are ER Positive, HER2 Negative. For those who don't understand "breast cancer speak" (a whole new language I have learned!), that means it's a good type of cancer to have - if there IS such a thing.

When are you having surgery? My surgery will be April 25 at 9am. I think we are planning on 4-5 hours. I am actually in really good health (well other than the cancer!) so we don't anticipate any complications.

What type of surgery are you having? It will be a double mastectomy, following by immediate reconstruction with silicone implants. Actually the implants won't be put in until the fall (which requires a second surgery). Meanwhile, I will have expanders filled with air to stretch the skin to the appropriate size.

Why did you choose the implants versus other types of reconstruction - or flat-chest? I had hoped to get the FLAP procedure where they take the tissue from your abdomen to create the breasts. Basically a tummy tuck and a boob job at the same time! Plus, because it's your own tissue there are fewer long-term problems. As a bonus it adjusts to weight loss and gain as well. But a prior abdominal surgery complication excluded me from that procedure. Hence the implants. I briefly considered flat-chest (no reconstruction), but after about 10 minutes decided it wasn't for me.

What type of recovery will you have? After a night in the hospital, I'll have 2 weeks of home-bound recovery, which I understand is pretty intense. (Yes, I believe in pain killers!) My husband will be working from home and will be my primary care-taker. This will be followed by 2 weeks of light activity. So it will be about a month before I drive or get out much, other than for doctors' appointments. 6 weeks before I can sleep on my side with support. And no face-down massage table for 3-9 months! Following the surgery to put in the permanent implants in the Fall, the recovery process will repeat.

Will you have radiation or chemo? Since I am having the mastectomy, there will not be any radiation. We won't know about the chemo for about 2 weeks after the surgery. They first check the lymph nodes that are removed. If those are positive for cancer, it means the cancer has spread beyond the breasts, so I will need chemo. If the lymph nodes are negative, they next do an "oncotype" on the breast tissue. Depending on those results, I may have to do chemo - or I may luck out and just have to take a pill for the next 5-10 years. Keep your fingers crossed!

How are you feeling physically and mentally? Well, other than the crying fits (which have pretty much subsided in the past week), I'm doing quite well. Naturally I'm concerned about the unknowns - and there seem to be a LOT of them with breast cancer. (I'll share all of that in a separate blog post.) But I have an excellent cancer team that have bent over backwards to answer my questions and provide information. I have spent hours gleaning the Internet for information (after all, I am a researcher by profession!) and reading books and articles. My family and close friends share my philosophy that we make the best of each day and any circumstance, so they have been very supportive of my choices and the fast pace at which we have worked. While I would not opt to get cancer, it's here so we must make the best of it.

Is there anything you need or that I can do? Thank you for your love and concern. I would appreciate your good energy coming my way as we embark on the next stage of the journey through surgery and recovery. The best way to contact me is either via email or on Facebook private message. That way I can log in when I feel good and correspond. I'll post updates as we go.

That's it for now. If you know of anyone facing the same challenges, please share this blog series with them. And please give your friends and loved ones a hug today!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.