I've been weighing for weeks if I even want to write about what's been going on with me for the last month or so. Part of me has wanted to keep it more or less quiet, but it's so significant it seems ridiculous to not share about it.
I'm more and more looking at this blog as a way to document some important things in life. Sometimes just normal events, but also lessons learned, opportunities experienced, challenges faced.
Well, a new challenge is being faced. And there is much too much to put into one post, so consider this an introduction to a topic I may write more on as time passes. And let me just say up front... I'm writing about this for me more than for you. I won't be the least bit offended if you don't read along, though I do hope something I write can benefit someone else. Even if it's just that someone appreciates reading another person's experience. I have certainly benefitted from many women sharing via blogs and youtube videos.
So it's with all the above in mind that I've decided to share.
In late April I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Every time I've had to tell someone this they gasp - and then I can't say fast enough, "It's okay, it's been caught early, it's highly treatable". And that's all true, but it has meant the world to me when friends and family have offered their gentle expressions of "I'm sorry" for what even a good cancer diagnosis means. Even if they don't know exactly what it means.
What I now know it means, at a minimum, is an exhausting, somewhat soul numbing and sometimes traumatizing series of tests and doctor's visits. New information seems to lurk around every corner. In the best case scenario, it may mean (relatively) minor surgery and taking medicine for many years. That last thing is seriously hard for me to swallow (figuratively and literally) since I'm such a terrible medicine taker, and one of the things I've feared most in growing older is the possibility of finding myself in a terrible whackamole game of managing side effects of certain medicines by taking more medicines. This aspect of ongoing cancer treatment tests my spirit more than anything else - so far. I've also learned through the process of refining a diagnosis, which includes searching to see if there is more cancer, plans can change and you adapt.
But back the plus side - in addition to having an early-caught cancer. For this lady who has in the past avoided doctors like the plague, I have to say the medical staff at the cancer center I've found myself at are among the most amazing and kind people. They show no judgement or criticism. For the most part they are encouraging and good spirited during challenging procedures, and by and large the system seems to run with an efficiency I've never experienced before. Even when there are hiccups, they have dealt calmly with them.
So after all the tests so far, I have what appears to be a very good diagnosis and prognosis, and I am so very thankful for it. Though, while I've met with a whole team of doctors - each with their offerings of after surgery cancer treatment - I (and they) won't know for sure what treatments will be suggested until the final biopsy is completed about two weeks after my surgery.
Through the last month and a half I have processed so much information. I have researched treatments I've been told about during meetings with the different doctors on "my team". I've tried valiantly to analyze the risk/benefit ratio of each as I consider the potential (some frighteningly long term) side effects as well as benefits. It's been a roller coaster ride for sure, but somehow I've managed to stay buckled in when I've wanted to crawl right out. Even when two weeks ago a second, smaller tumor was found which changed my surgery options. The change in surgery options meant what was originally proposed as after surgery treatment has been scrubbed until the final biopsy. I've gleaned from friends and online articles and youtubers what I need to be prepared to recover from a bilateral mastectomy - the worst part appears to be post surgical drains. I am dreading the drains.
I will, perhaps in some future posts, touch on some of the tests leading up to a diagnosis. I had no idea what all was involved in diagnosing breast cancer and how long it could all take - for early caught tumors. I've heard from friends how they were rushed into surgery within a week of their first tests that showed aggressive tumors. While my drawn out testing has mentally exhausted me at times, I cannot imagine the whirlwind of emotions and energies that must go into a rapid diagnosis and quickly scheduled surgery. As hard as this long drawn out diagnostic period has been, I guess I'm thankful for it because it has allowed me to research, ask questions, and just generally get ready!
It has been a welcome distraction during all of this that we've also been busy doing work outside while the weather was beautiful during April and most of May, and I have some pictures of our progress for a future post. Now that we're having temps in the 90's we are so glad to have the hardest work behind us. I've been enjoying harvesting and freezing and sharing strawberries this spring. Something of a garden has been put in, and lots of flower seeds have been sown there and in planters. Now we wait and see what the work produces.
And that's a wrap for today.
Thank you for stopping by!
Irises from our back yard, June 2022.