I've been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. How is this possible? I found out about this cancer purely by chance.
The "c" was discovered on September 16th, 2009. The next two months were a roller coaster. On September 17th I called my gynecologist, Dr. SG: a woman's dream doctor. Serious, but calm and ever compassionate. She examined me the next day and then pulled major strings in order to get me to the radiology place asap. She kept on reminding me that it could be nothing. Nothing. She basically said: "We have no way of knowing for sure right now, so why not go home and just enjoy your weekend." It was the perfect thing to say. After all, what can you do when you're in limbo?
The next Tuesday I had the mammogram, sonogram, and was carted off immediately to the radiologist's office who told me the results. All signs pointed to Stage 2 breast "c". I was in shock of course and instead of going to the next office to talk with the office administrators, I just zoned out and walked right out of the building! They had to call me on the cell phone in order to get me back there! They sent me upstairs to the breast surgeons who examined me again. One of them (Dr. T) was talking surgery, chemo, radiation and breast reconstruction! My hand was shaking uncontrollably, but I tried to write everything down. He made an appointment for me to see his protegee (Dr. A) the very next day. I couldn't stay with Dr. T because I do not have health insurance.
Unfortunately, Dr. A was the voice of doom, gloom, and unnecessary big needle talk. (Thank goodness I was supplied with Valium throughout my time with her.) At one point during our first meeting, I found myself pouring my heart out to her. I asked her if I could call her by her first name. She said no. I said, "Well, in that case, you can call me Dr. Laskowich" (in a fun way, of course.) She didn't think it was funny. (I told my mom this story and she was appalled at what I said. Oh well. I thought it was pretty funny. By the way, in case you aren't aware, I do have a doctorate!)
Next bad news: two days before my surgery, my PET scan shows that I am not stage 2. I have stage 4 metastatic breast "c". It's all over the place: my lymph nodes, liver, bones in my torso, stomach, abdomen. No more surgery. No more Dr. A, the breast surgeon.
Next chapter: I am referred to Dr. M - my calm, encouraging oncologist whose first words to me were: "This is highly treatable."
Dr. M.'s first course of action was actually NO CHEMO. Chemo was to be option number four! Unfortunately a couple of weeks later my blood tests showed that my liver enzymes had doubled within the space of a month. So chemo it is. But again, Dr. M's encouraging words - her absolute calm - just didn't make the situation seem so bad.
My chemo day is every Friday. I'm in the best of hands at the hospital's "Infusion Suite." We're trying it for three months and then we'll try another PET scan to see if there's some progress. Then we'll just take it from there.
When I first started this CaringBridge site I wrote the following words. They still ring true for me:
I try not to dwell on sappy things. That won't help. I try not to get too weepy (at least not in this website). That won't help either. Thank God for Valium! (Funny - with Dr. M, I didn't need Valium that much anymore.)
My friend Adria suggested a cancer party - that made me burst out laughing. I loved that!
If you'd like to leave a message for me, feel free. If you'd like to just take a look for the latest news, feel free to do that too. Whatever you feel comfortable with is fine with me.
My best friend Jim said a couple of things that keep me smiling. First of all, when I kept on getting one bad test result after another, he said "Well, at least you're consistent!" And then he said "All this bad news will only make your complete recovery all the more spectacular."
I'm moving ahead with that in mind.
NB: The above epistle was written years ago. Back when I started writing on CaringBridge.
Now it's April 2014.
So much has changed. Mostly for the better, believe it or not.
This is gonna sound either corny or just plain nuts - are you ready?
Cancer has been / is the best thing to happen to me.
In a way, it's been a "get out of jail free" card.
Aside from all the bad, rotten stuff...it has changed me. And I'm working on more change. But I'm slow.
Jim says that the most important thing is to keep moving forward. I agree. Move forward, keep learning.
My therapist, Madeline, reminds me that all around us is nothing. Nothing. Let's work on our insides.
I'm trying, but geez I'm slow. I read in a book: "We're all bozos on the bus." Amen! But I want to be a bozo that keeps trying to learn, and keeps trying to let go of things that don't truly matter. It's so hard!
Just when I vow to myself "I'm not gonna say anything dopey or hurtful today" then whoops! There I go agin'!
If I were to have a tombstone, I'd like it to say "Well, at least she tried!"
(That's not so bad, is it?)
Now, it's 2017. My mantras are pretty much the same: