Well who knew? I wrote “1 Week Down” on Sunday the 20th, which was the 6th day I was rolling along with Chemo Chemicals coursing through my life support system, aka veins, and I was feeling fairly washed out. I’d completely neglected to mention the “follow-up shot” of Neulasta that we chemo persons get 24 hours after each treatment, which I was introduced to on Wednesday, November 16, aka Day 2. And It occurs to me that it was a pretty big component of my physical experience, due to the fact that it affects your bones and joints. It is known. It makes movement feel awkward at the least, and lifting or even holding familiar objects becomes other-worldly in the sudden unfamiliarity of the process. It further occurs to me that I was not entirely forthright about an unpleasant, pesky aspect of the three day period in which I was most “not quite myself,” and I’d like to address that now.
Yay! The day finally arrived, winter is coming, prepare yourself; those birds have flown! (I just always wanted to say that.) If you don’t do Game Of Thrones you’ll likely not appreciate it, so no more of those references. It is late autumn now though, and while winter is coming I think I will always remember how startlingly beautiful the day was here for my first chemo session.
Hi! Welcome to my inspired cancer site. Funny story. I never thought this would be me (who does?) and I never thought I’d find an engaging topic in anyone’s mammogram, and I certainly never thought I’d want to discuss my own, so it just goes to show, you never know.
Cancer? Who talks about cancer? No one really. And that’s a problem when the actual big C finds you — or someone important in your life. So I’m going to do something about it. Let’s talk.
I bet scores of you have heard the term “Dense Tissue.” Frankly, when I first started casually using the term myself, to introduce my concerns about something in my own dense tissue, more than half of the women I spoke to said, “Oh! I have that too!” More. Than. Half. You may think you see where this is going, but DON’T PANIC! Dense tissue does not mean you will get cancer. Bottom line, it generally means you have finer, firmer breasts than average. Goddess like in many cases. Trust me, I breathe to find the positive. But dense tissue does create a bit of a technical difficulty in detecting cancer early, and early is when you want it detected. So pay attention.
Here’s how it goes. Some good General Practitioner, Family Doctor, or Ob/Gyn will likely have told you about your dense tissue (if you have it) by the time you’re 40 or so — that is, if you make it a habit to visit one of them. Can I just say something here? Make it a habit.
So now you know–and if you don’t know, for Pete’s sake, make an appointment and ask. You’ll thank me. If you have the dense tissue thing going on, self checking yourself is still really valuable if you check every month or two and can remember what always feels dense and so on.
I know, who thinks of self examination regularly? But if you DO think of it, it can go like this . . .”pressing with finger pads flat, press, slide, press, roll, what is THAT? oh just dense tissue, or is that something that moved away? no, it pressed out flat . . . or wait, that’s a lump, or, no, no, not really, no, okay, slide . . .” Let’s cut to the chase, get your mammograms on schedule. Just do it. I know, I know, it takes so much TIME, who has that kind of TIME. Let me point out the obvious. Early detection can make the difference between one month of daily radiation treatment, and four months of Chemo to be followed by one month of daily radiation treatment, or, six months of mixed treatment to be followed by 10 to 20 years of estrogen blockers, or, you could take an early retirement plan in oblivion, either just before or just after the, trust me not so fun, Chemo part. Think all those things slip right into your schedule? Got some time now?
#Valuable Chemo Girl Tip For Dense Tissue Goddesses: In a thoroughly unscientific survey I came to the conclusion that if you have dense tissue and you are over 40 you can ask any Doctor you may be seeing to write “at risk” in your file so you can remember (or not remember) to check yourself, and then be eligible for 2 mammograms a year on whatever health carrier you are using. See how that gets you right back to the mammogram thing?
Now (finally) we get to what I am doing here. I have been diagnosed with loebular-ductal carcinoma that nested long enough to start a family and send a few microcosms on an exploratory walk-about through my endoctrine system via lymph nodes. Surprise. Yay!
While this took more than a little time to process and accept personally, the crack health- care system (read-honestly, every healthcare system in our fine nation) was super helpful at letting me get used to the big picture, piece meal. Sort of like this: “Your mammogram showed an irregularity, please come back in at your earliest possible convenience.” “Thank you for your patience, I’m sorry dear, this image is inconclusive, can you wait here for an ultrasound?” “The ultrasound is telling me this is not liquid, like a cyst would be . . . can you raise your arm? We always like to check the lymph nodes while you’re here.” “Your lymph nodes are possibly questionable and therefore inconclusive . . . we’ll have our team leader review it and get back to you.” “Can you come back for a biopsy soon? Say two days?” See how helpful that was? They didn’t tell me it was definitely cancer until I came back and they were about to put the conveniently lengthy needle in me. So I had 7 days between the mammograms and then an 2 extra days after to take my brain from “This is nothing, it is nothing until it is something, it might actually be something, oh, yup, it IS something, it’s Cancer.”
For the record, I have 3 sisters, 2 brothers, a father a step-mother, a husband, and a 13 year old daughter. My husband has a close and lovely family who have thoroughly embraced me, and they include his mother, his sister, his brother, and, all of the siblings on both sides have nuclear families. On my side of the family we’ve lost a brother and our mother to different types of cancer. Now how does one go about sharing this sort of health up-date with loved ones? Well this is very simple really. I took a page from the healthcare method and did it piece meal. I began by warming them up with some bits and pieces of how many doctor’s appointments I’d been attending lately, and then some hints that surgery might be possible, and finally that a lumpectomy was right around the corner. And then I let them have The Plan. Here is a copy of the letter I sent by email to make sure they all got it at the same time.