Breast Cancer! That wasn't in my life plan

Reflections on a journey with breast cancer.

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The cancer "battle" goes on. That's language people seem to understand. It isn't my language. I think everyone who knows me knows that. I prefer to use my energy to live my life. I don't want to waste in it what will ultimately be a losing battle. Things have changed for me so I decided it's time for a more detailed update. As you know I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2019. When I met my oncologist in March 2019 she said I was "at least" stage 3. I had chemo, then surgery, then radiation. In September 2019, my oncologist phoned to say they had decided to treat me aggressively, as stage IV. That decision was based on the fact that I had a "met" (metastasis) on my T4. I also had one on my sternum that had responded to...
Part of my complaint about the pink and fluffy message about breast cancer relates to this. I know I look healthy. I don't look like a cancer patient. Thank goodness for that since actually looking like a cancer patient isn't a good thing. When you walk into a chemo room, you will see a room full of people who look pretty "normal". The caps might be the only clue. Cancer is not a one and done event. It isn't like an infection or something where you get treatment and move on. While many do get treatment and move on, cancer leaves its impact in many ways. Accepting treatment and following medical advice isn't "positive" or "brave", etc. It's the best option in most cases. I mean, really, what is the alternative?
So Pinktober starts tomorrow. Maybe you've already been inundated with pinkwashing ads around you, especially on Facebook. This is an excellent article about how to contribute to legitimate breast cancer causes. Pink is Not The Problem My plan (hope?) is to post information about breast cancer through the month of October.
So I'm having a discussion with Rita over on cruxifusion.com. She presented an article about BCAM (breast cancer awareness month) and how it has been funded by companies that produce carcinogenic products. Susan B Komen has been in trouble for this. This is the article: Covering Up The Causes of Breast Cancer I'm including it for discussion purposes. It makes quite a few good points. I don't agree with it all. It does give food for thought. I also found this article: The Trouble With Pinkwashing There's a lot of pressure to put more research into prevention rather than to support the drug companies' alleged desire to keep cancer around so they can make money. Sure, that seems to be the case some days. Prevention and early...
As I mentioned in my other thread, I was officially diagnosed in February 2019. I will talk about how the diagnosis happens and the first steps. I had been experiencing pain when I moved my arm certain ways. This wasn't very unusual because I have degenerative disc disease in my neck that can cause similar symptoms. When my usual strategies of stretching and the like didn't work I started thinking of other possibilities. Around that time I discovered the mass in my breast. I knew immediately what it was. I mean, what else could it be? It took me a couple weeks to get to a doctor. Some of that delay was likely because of feelings of anxiety and dread. Denial most certainly was a factor. I wonder too as I write this if the messaging...
This was a memory that came up today in my FB feed: I'd had my first appointment with my oncologist. Man she was scary! She's a very intense woman who is top in her field. She's got good boundaries and that often results in a scary directness. She also has a kindness which is nice. She's not touchy feely though. I'm thankful for her knowledge as it has kept me alive. What a past four years this has been. I had no idea then what was in store for me. That's probably a good thing really. I didn't realize that 1 in 3 women diagnosed with breast cancer would be or become metastatic and that I would be one of them. I looked at the list of people who responded to my post four years ago. Sadly (or not) many are no longer friends because...
Four years ago I was in the doctor's office where I learned I had breast cancer for sure. Of course I already knew it because what else would it be? I mean really. I've been feeling it today for some reason. I had bought the pink ribbon message that breast cancer was the "good" cancer and that it was curable. I had no idea what was in store for me These past four years have not gone as planned when I retired in August 2018. We thought we'd be travelling around in our fifth wheel, exploring Canada. Life or the universe or whatever had other plans. I say that I've gotten the full meal deal plus dessert. I was diagnosed as metastatic a few months later so dessert is medications I will take forever. I live my life as a person who...
We all know life ends. Still, it's usually almost a theoretical concept, something to which we give little thought. A cancer diagnosis brings the idea of an expiry date into sharper focus. I suspect this may be the case no matter what stage of cancer involved. I base that on information I've gotten from my cancer support groups. This article came up on my FB feed today. The author has a very aggressive cancer, one that kills fairly quickly. It's what killed Gord Downie. This article resonated with me as a knitter. Two months to live I have been aware of my yarn and fabric stash. I've been aware of the projects I have on my to do list. I am starting a bag for my husband this week. I'm also going to start a sweater from alpaca I bought...
I came across this excellent article about language around cancer. It's particularly timely on the day we learned that Kirstie Allie died from cancer. The headlines state she died after a battle with cancer. WTF. Cancer killed her. Is she a loser because she didn't fight hard enough? This article addresses the issue nicely. Losing “Losing the Battle With Cancer” i promise to haunt anyone who says I died after a battle with cancer.
I initially thought I'd write about my cancer journey chronologically. Instead I'll most likely write about cancer related things that come to my mind. This is part of a post that a friend wrote. I love this. Cancer is not like strep throat where you get sick, take antibiotics and rest, then move on with your life. It is the friend that never leaves. When I was first diagnosed I had no idea what was in store for me. In fact I had the belief that breast cancer was highly treatable and not so bad. Cancer is cancer. A friend said my treatment would take a year. She was right. I had chemo from March to August, surgery in October (six weeks after chemo ended) and radiation in December/January (six weeks after surgery). My final in person...
Someone (@Waterfall ?) asked about coping strategies in my first thread. I've decided to start a thread on this. I'll likely add to it as I think of more ideas. Today I had a great lunch with four other women who have also been getting cancer treatment. We met through a FB group and have a Messenger chat set up. Unfortunately, several women have died since we started it. Still, it's an excellent support. Most of you know I worked in a profession where I helped others develop coping skills. Now I'm getting to put my money where my mouth is. While I'm sure I used these skills before, they are more important with a cancer diagnosis. For instance I have a whole new appreciation for "one day at a time". When I was first diagnosed I used...
So I had this big idea that I would write something about breast cancer and my diagnosis every day in October. We are nearing the end of the month and I haven't written anything. I found myself stuck as soon as this place to write was created. I had so many thoughts. Where to start. What to write. How personal. What was I thinking. It's a big deal apparently. Since I tend to like to do things easily the hard way, I've come to a place where I can start. After all, I have to start somewhere and it can be a small start. Like many people living with or having experienced breast cancer treatment, I have come to dislike the pink messaging that happens in October. "Breast cancer awareness" has been presented with sexy pink messaging...
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