Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Chronicles of Breast Cancer

Last month I was at the health center, getting my annual mammogram and bi-annual bone density
scan. As I put my cell phone in that little locker they provide for your stuff, I thought, "Snap a picture of yourself in this hospital gown and post it to Facebook as a reminder to other women to schedule their checkups."

As a rule, I believe selfies are best left to the young and self-involved, but this seemed like an opportunity for a Public Service Announcement. I've had fifteen or twenty mammograms over the years and they're always okay. So, contrary to my usual policy, I posted this picture of me in alternating hospital gowns (one forward, one back).

I got a lot of likes and loves and laughs on my Facebook post--and a handful of requests to let my friends know the outcome.

I figured, in a week or so, I'd post the results and be done with it. But three days later (a quick response on lab tests is never good), my doctor's office called to say, "Something looked a little hinky. You need to get another mammogram with more elaborate and expensive equipment."*

Facebook post #2 netted 70 well-wishes and requests to be kept in the loop.

So the next Monday I went to a different facility and had another picture with different equipment. The tech sent the pictures straight over to a radiologist, who said, "That lump is tiny (5mm), but the edges are irregular. We should poke it with a sharp instrument."*

Eight days later, I went back to get poked. (Full disclosure: This was done under the effects of a local anesthesia and didn't actually hurt.) I still wasn't concerned, because the Susan G. Komen site assured me that 80% of breast lump biopsies are benign.

Only this one wasn't.

A week later, I met with an oncology surgeon, who explained that my tumor is what's known as invasive, ductile breast cancer. It's in my milk glands (ductile), and it's traveled between milk glands (invasive). The good news was, it's also Clinical Stage One.

He offered me the choice of a lumpectomy followed by radiation treatments  or a double mastectomy sans radiation. Either choice has a recurrence rate of 6%. (That rises to 21% if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.)

If I went with the mastectomy, I'd have to have a second, reconstructive surgery to reinflate my breasts. The vision of permanently perky breasts atop a 90-year-old chest creeps me out. I prefer my entire body to shrivel at the same pace.

Also, not crazy about a second surgery.

So, I'm having my lumpectomy on March 7. While I'm asleep, they'll also harvest a couple of lymph nodes and check them for cancer. If they're clear, I'm good to go (to radiation treatments five times a week for 5 to 8 weeks). If not, I'll undergo chemo before I can start radiation.

All prayers, good vibes, and well-wishes welcome.

*Possibly not an exact quote.


  1. As always, I am keeping you in my prayers.

  2. Cancer sucks! My husband was diagnosed with tonsil cancer last year and had surgery to remove the tonsils. Everything was hunky dory (diagnosed cancer-free) until last month, when he found another lump in his neck. Yep, cancer. Now he has to go through radiation and chemo. We were really hoping he wouldn't have to, but now it's like he doesn't have a choice if he wants it over with. And yes, we want it over with.

    I'm sending good mojo your way for a speedy recovery. And if you need a ride to COFW (provided you feel up to going), let me know!

  3. I love your attitude and sense of humor, Jeanne. You've got my prayers and thoughts! And 6% is small.

    There is a higher chance of being an internet user who doesn't use search engines or email
    There is more than double a chance of seeing a UFO...or thinking you did
    There is an equal chance that an adult has sex every day
    There is a higher chance that an adult believes science will discover Nessy, Bigfoot, or another mythological creature
    There is a much higher chance that an adult 65 or older cannot swim

    You've totally got this.

  4. Jeanne,you are continuously in my prayers❤ I know you are a strong woman, but I know you are a bit scared. I know you have the best hubby in the world that always has your back! (That is all because of my skills of bringing you both together, and you're most welcome��) I love you like a are the most amazing Godmother to Emily, and I thank you so much for that! If you need me, please call me!!! Anytime, night or day! I love you tons!! I would like to leave you with this thought......
    TWO SMART FELLOWS THEY BOTH FELT SMART!❤������......xoxoxo.....Cindee

  5. Friend, I love your sense of humor. *May not be an exact quote.
    Thanks for sharing and the reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. Your positive attitude and humor will help kick cancer arse.
    Love ya!

  6. You are always in my prayers and now doubly so.

  7. Crap. I am sorry this had to happen to you. Breast Cancer sucks, but it sounds like it is early.
    I am not in favor of the breast reconstruction surgery...and you can get cancer in that too as it happened to a cousin of mine. A flat chest would not be so would have more room and buttons wouldn't pop open all the time.
    My sister in law had the lumpectomy and radiation and chemo it was a tough year plus a few months for her. We had a hat making party.
    I will be thinking of you let me know if you need a hat I will make one especially for you.
    Take good care of you!

  8. Omigosh, I am so sorry to hear about this. Thoughts, prayers and well wishes to one of my still-favorite bloggers.


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