Beginning in the middle

Tonight I finally decided to begin a blog.  I have all kinds of thoughts, ideas and opinions in my mind, and I wanted to begin writing them down for posterity.  For some reason, that initial step, the final push to start….well, I felt some fear and/or hesitation.  I’m not sure why that is, but at last, I am here.

One thing…..where to begin?  My life has been mostly good.  Yet I would have to classify it into two distinctive parts:  the first 52 years dealing with all of life’s ups and downs while in basically good health.  Then there’s me experiencing the rest of my life after being diagnosed with stage iv breast canser.

At the time of this writing, I am 53 years old and will turn 54 in about two months.

A little over a year ago, December 22, 2010, six days after my annual mammogram, I found a thickening in my left breast at the 6 o’clock position. I knew immediately that it was bad.  Over the next six weeks I had many tests: sonogram, biopsy, MRI, CT scan, PET scan.

I had an appointment with the oncologist a couple of hours after the PET scan.  By that time, I pretty much knew the oncologist was going to tell me I had stage iv breast cancer. I went to her office alone that day.  I chose not take anyone with me, not my husband, son, sister.  I had to take the blow alone.  Absorb the impact, shock and fear. I could not risk any of my loved ones breaking down emotionally in the doctor’s office.  I didn’t want to have to comfort them at a time when everything was crashing in on me.

It took an hour to drive home from the doctor’s office.  Tom and Mark were in the driveway when I pulled in.  They were working on Mark’s school project, a small, home-made, rubber-band operated car for his physics class.  For all the underlying drama that was unfolding, things were calm.  They light-heartedly put the car through a few test runs and were happy with the results.  Then we all walked in the back door to the house and sat at the kitchen table.

I gave them the news.  The three of us all absorbed it.  There were no hysterics.  Perhaps sadness and acceptance?  I told them I was going to begin neoadjuvant chemotherapy on February 16, that is, chemo before having surgery.

I had six rounds of chemo, one round every three weeks, completed on June 3, 2011.  It did manage to shrink much of the tumor in my breast.  I had a lumpectomy on July 8.  The margins were not clear, so I had to have a re-excision on July 26 which resulted in clear margins.  At the end of August I began the first of 33 radiation treatments.  At some point I began to take Tamoxifen, which is an anti-estrogen pill.  The type canser I was dealing with tested positive for estrogen (ER+, Her2nu-).  In November, I had blood work done, and the oncologist switched me to Arimidex.

Okay, there you have it. I guess I wanted to get all of that out of the way.  I suppose I could sit here and write about all the emotions I felt during the past year, but I don’t really want to at this time. It was a tough, but I got through it. I don’t think about it in any kind of agonizing way.  My amazing husband, son, sisters and brothers, extended family, community; they all gave me the emotional support I needed.  More about them later.

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