It’s September and you know what that means. It means it’s almost October and you know what that mean. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
So hurry up and make that appointment.
I used to get both a mammogram and a breast ultrasound every 6 months…dense breast tissue and all that. Then in July three years ago both tests showed a small “spot” on the right side and a biopsy was scheduled. I wasn’t worried. I’d had a biopsy before and it was just a cyst. Besides, there is no family history, I was healthy – as in never sick, don’t eat much red meat, never smoked, rarely drank, and everything I put in my mouth is either organic or natural. But as I waited for a call from the doctor…I knew…I just knew.
So the next few weeks were a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments and more tests…X-rays, CAT scan, MRI, PET scan EKG. Did they use up all the letters of the alphabet on those names? Just a little incision on the side, take out the lump. A lumpectomy. Lumpectomy. It’s a funny word isn’t it? Sounds so non medical. Lump of what? Coal? Lard? Why isn’t it a growthectomy? Or tumorectomy? Or cancerectomy? Or…whatever…?
I asked the surgeon how long it would take to recover from the surgery. I have a writer’s critique group every Monday and I didn’t want to miss any meetings. He said I would be up and around in three or four days. So I scheduled the surgery for the next Tuesday so I would be recovered and able to go to the following Monday meeting. What I discovered after the surgery was that “up and around in three or four days” REALLY meant that I might be able to drag myself out of bed and to the bathroom by myself in three or four days. And what’s with the drain tube coming out of the side of my boob into a bag that has to be emptied every few hours!? Didn’t see that one coming. And taking it out 10 days later…the absolute worst five seconds of pain I’ve ever had in my life!
On the humorous side, a few days after surgery, two of the grandkids were staying with us overnight. I was crashed out in the lounge chair. The Hubby was trying to wash dishes and get dinner, and get the kids into the shower. The 10 year old granddaughter was standing by a huge pile of laundry on the end of the couch, naked and wet, flinging clothes everywhere screaming “I can’t find any underwear!” The 8 year old grandson was in the shower, using all the hot water and singing at the top of his lungs. The two dogs were running everywhere in the confusion. Suddenly the 8 year old was at the top of the stairs, also wet and naked, screaming, “The dog threw up!” Yes, the 130 pound German Shepherd, who earlier in the day had eaten most of a huge bag of M&Ms – think Costco – think peanut M&Ms – went upstairs to the kids bedroom and threw up. I couldn’t help it. I laughed so hard I thought I would split stitches. Welcome to my world Hubby…it’s your turn for a change.
I didn’t make that Monday meeting. Or the Monday after that either. After a month I was beginning to feel pretty good, but then, guess what? They had said that all the scans showed it wasn’t in my lymph nodes. But it was. The surgeon removed 14 nodes and those pesky little cancer buggers where in 4 of them. So on to chemo. Twenty two weeks from beginning to end. My long (I could sit on it), straight, blond hair started to fall out. I cut it and donated it.
And all the side effects from the chemo…Jeeze. For 4 days after each chemo I could hardly get out of bed. I threw up. My usually overactive immune system crashed and I had to get belly injections for a week after each chemo to build it back up. I got dehydrated, got mouth thrush. I felt sick all the time. I had NO energy. My mouth tasted like a toxic waste facility. I lost 30 pounds. OK, I was a little overweight, but not my first choice of diet plans.
I had to have a port in my chest so they could plug the IV into it for the toxic chemicals they were giving me. I didn’t want a port – it’s a put-to-sleep 15 minute surgery to put it in and take it out. I told the doctor I wanted an IV in my arm each time I got chemo. She said one of the three chemicals they were giving me was so toxic that if it got on my skin at all it would eat it away. So…it’s OK to put it in the port that has a long tube that goes DIRECTLY into my heart…!? And that same chemical was bright red…so I peed pink for the rest of the day.
Seven weeks of radiation was not bad, except you had to go five days a week. We joked about just dragging the trailer out to the parking lot and living there. I did get some radiation burns the last couple of weeks, but – good side effect, it blasted all the hair under my arms so I don’t have to shave there anymore.
A year of my life set aside battling this horrid condition. But I am good now. Healthy again. My hair is just below my shoulders and came back in curly. Recently ran into a friend I hadn’t seen since my hair all fell out. She asked, “Who does your hair to make it all curly like that?” I said, “God.”
Anyone can get breast cancer. I have a 30 year old friend that got it, and a 98 year old great aunt that was diagnosed with it. One in eight women will get breast cancer. Look around at seven of your friends…is it gonna be one of them…or you?
So ladies…make that appointment…get those mammies grammed!!
Then check out these links…
This blog has Inked Anthology on sale and all the profits will go into a fund for mastectomy survivors in the NW to get cover up tattoos from Madame Lazonga. Then go to her links and see some of her marvelous work.
Do you believe that Facebook banned this picture due to nudity? The backlash was so strong that they finally relented and it can now be posted on FB.
More Links you might like…
This is Zach Zeiler. Diagnosed at 15 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. By the time he was done with chemo he weighed 106 pounds. Zach is now 20 years old, healthy and an ISSA Certified Trainer (International Sports Sciences Association).
Thumbs up – Cancer down
Watch the story… www.facebook.com/KGET17News/posts/10152288038226314
Naythan Bryant, David Marcus, Kevin Charette
David is fighting his second bout with colon cancer. He started thumbs-up-cancer-down with a little help from some friends. Go to the web page www.thumbsupcancerdown.com/ and check it out. They have almost 1,000 thumbs up photos in their gallery. And they have a celebrity gallery with thumbs up pictures of everyone from House Speaker John Boehner to the Rock Band Korn. AND…Naythan is now in remission from leukemia.
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