This is my first posting on this new site. I’ve been blogging on caringbridge (a nonprofit site for people who are involved in any type of long term illness who want to post their progress and updates for family and friends) and have decided to shift over to a more public forum as I move into this next phase of the process.
Unfortunately, mine is a rather familiar story. I found a lump in my left breast on January 19th, 2010. I read in bed at night, and it was really cold, so I had my arms around my shoulders and grazed something on the top of my left breast. It was a very hard lump – very pronounced – about 1 inch in length and 3/4 inch wide. I knew something was wrong, but I convinced myself it was just a cyst and put it out of my mind until I saw my OBGYN a week later, who thought it was nothing to worry about, but just to be safe, sent me for a mammogram and ultrasound.
During the ultrasound, they kept telling me to hum whenever they would highlight a suspicious area. On my right breast (the one that didn’t have a lump) when I hummed, the area turned all blue. On my left breast, where the lump was, when I hummed it was red. I knew it was bad. I knew that meant it wasn’t liquid and that it was hard tissue. The radiologist came in a little while later and everything after that became a blur as she told me I had to have a biopsy done, and for the first time, she used the word cancer.
I have a 14 year old daughter who was home from school that day and all I could think of was how I was going to get home and into the house without her seeing me crying. There was a lot of hiding for me, in the first phase of this process. I didn’t want anyone to know what was going on. I didn’t want to tell anyone, until I knew exactly what I was dealing with. I didn’t realize how much fear and shame I had associated with illness in general, and especially with cancer, until I was diagnosed. Now that I’ve been living with it for 9 months, I pretty much tell anyone and everyone about what’s going on with me, and have decided to consciously talk about it so that I can help reduce the stigma and fear associated with breast cancer.
However, today is not the day to recount details of all that. Today is the day to determine what this blog will be about. I’m thinking I’ll give tips and hints for how to navigate through this crazy medical process. Plus I’ll chronicle my story, as I recount how I’m managing to navigate breast cancer, a family that includes 2 amazing teenage kids, a marketing consulting business and a dog named Tucker.
If that interests you, please come on in and join me.
First tip: When going through breast cancer, it helps to write things down.
It’s helpful because it gets all the madness and worry out of your head and onto the page. It’s also helpful for the future, because from the day you’re diagnosed until many years later (I’m only a year in, so don’t know how long, but expect that it will continue for at least 5-10 years), you’re going to need to remember a lot of details about what’s happened, so it’s a good idea to keep a record of all this stuff.