In August I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer. It's something that I always thought would happen to other people. We certainly have breast cancer history in the family (my grandmother, both of her siblings and my aunt) but it was still a surprising gut punch. Even then, I had no intention of creating a Caring Bridge site. I've been reading a lot of them lately and to me my Stage 1 breast cancer diagnosis based on my mammogram didn't warrant it. What I faced was not nearly as traumatic or tragic or filled with heart ache as the issues facing friends and loved ones. Not only is breast cancer depressingly common as the more I shared my story, the more I learned how many in my circle are survivors, it also came to feel incredibly *routine* when it came to treatment. While certainly not fun, it was manageable and I was going to make it work to my advantage. I had a plan. I would be FINE. The tumor would be cut out. I’d have a little radiation. Bingo bango: I'm back at work with my fabulous team and better than ever for 2018!
But then my surgeon called on Tuesday after my lumpectomy. We were fully expecting the all clear for my routine reconstruction and radiation. I mean, they caught this early. There was no sign of cancer on last year's mammogram. I didn't (don't!) feel sick. Bingo bango: think again.
It turns out, I'm not Stage 1. I’m Stage 3.
This is why: the original tumor was removed with what turned out to be several additional microscopic tumors that the MRI did not pick up along with 5 out of 6 lymph nodes positive for cancer. One of those lymph nodes contained a 1.2cm cancerous mass. And bonus: one edge of the tissue removed showed cancer. I need additional surgery to remove all my lymph nodes as well as clean that edge. My planned reconstruction is now on hold.
And so now we begin my true cancer journey...
I came across a quote I like a lot: "A strong woman knows she has strength enough for the journey but a woman of strength knows that on the journey she will become strong."
Thanks for coming along with me. The number of calls, messages, notes, meals, and prayers mean the world to me. I - and my entire family - feel the support and the love. Thank you.
Up next: PET scan on 10/ 17 to determine if there is any cancer in my body. If there is, I'm Stage 4.