Monday, October 21, 2013


I met my next friend, Michele, through a mutual friend.  We instantly bonded over our mutual disdain toward Komen and what the pink ribbon has become.  Neither of us are friends with the woman who was our mutual friend.  I never knew a friendship could form over a hatred toward Komen, but it can.  It's not the only thing we have in common (running does change everything).
Age and diagnosis

36. Stage 1 invasive ductal carcinoma. - triple negative breast cancer.

Family history or BRCA mutation?

2 aunts (1 ovarian, 1 premenopausal BC).  No mutation.  [Interesting; like me, a strong family history but no mutation.]

Who caught it?
Me.  [I then asked her for more details regarding how she caught it.]
The story of finding it is actually odd--
I found it Christmas day 2008.  I had been feeling horrible and exhausted for a couple months and thought it was because of the holidays and having 3 kids.  In retrospect, I think it was the cancer but there's no way to prove it.  My in-laws and my parents were in town and I had just pulled off DAYS of Christmas stuff-- mass, going to see lights, cookie decorating, Christmas Eve dinner for friends & family, santa, Christmas morning presents, brunch for family, a big dinner Christmas day... not to mention all the cleaning in between.  To say I was stressed out was an understatement.  That night, I took a bubble bath.  I almost never take bubble baths (who has the time??).  As I slumped into the water, I rested my hands across my chest... and felt the lump.  I instantly knew it was cancer, I just knew.  It was small and firm. It didn't hurt at all.  I was still breast-feeding my toddler so I knew what my breast(s) should feel like and this was different.
The next morning, I called a colleague and asked him to see me *that day*.  He did and ordered a mammogram and ultrasound.  After seeing the images, my fears were confirmed although no one would actually say "you have cancer" until after the biopsy.

Did your doctors listen to you?
Yes but I teach at the medical school so they had to.  :)

What would you say to a young woman who thinks she might have something wrong?

I would tell any young woman to listen to their own body and intuition.  It doesn't matter how educated you are or who you know.  YOU are in charge of your own body.  YOU know YOU best.  If you think something is wrong, there likely is.  I would also tell any woman (young or old) that your treatment is up to you.  In my case, during the diagnosis and treatment phases of my illness, my MD's and I saw eye-to-eye.  I had a bad-ass cancer and they agreed with me to use a "big gun" approach.  However, when all was said and done and I wanted a prophylactic mastectomy of the other breast and a prophylactic oophorectomy, I had to fight like hell to get those procedures.  My surgeon didn't want to "maim" me (yes he said that)... as if a uni-boob is good for much and my ovaries were chemo-fried anyway. My oncologist was concerned that I was acting out of fear and not fact (hell yes it was fear!!).  In the end, I got that *normal* breast removed (and the ovaries too!) and haven't regretted it. SO, like I said before- YOU know what is best for YOU.  (And, it is perfectly OK to act out of fear and not fact sometimes... ESPECIALLY if that "fear" is robbing you of your sanity.)

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