Diagnosis: Breast Cancer

I have avoided updating for a long time because of great sadness over Ricardo’s Parkinson’s.  Back in December, we thought he would have to go into long-term care at the beginning of 2012.  And then, somehow his condition settled down and although he’s been weak, he’s been able to stay at home.  I’ve kept him awash in cranberry juice, trying to avoid any more of the bladder infections which cause him to crash, and so far, it’s worked.  I’ve kept my focus very narrowly on getting through and appreciating one day at a time, refusing to worry about the future.  But then, in mid-February, came an unexpected crash.

Finally taking notice of an inverted nipple that I had been vaguely aware of for some weeks, I saw our family doctor, who sent me off for a mammogram and ultrasound.  The technician at the clinic had their doctor come in and check, and she confirmed that it looked suspiciously like cancer.  So when I saw the surgeon to whom I was referred, I was not shocked when he sent me for a biopsy.  I also had a chest x-ray, ECG, and blood tests.  The verdict from the biopsy was cancer.  Tomorrow I will have an abdominal ultrasound to check liver and kidneys, and Tuesday I’ll see a plastic surgeon to get some info about breast reconstruction, but for now, I don’t think I will ask for that.  More surgery, more time in which Ricardo will need someone to take care of him, more appointments in what looks to be a calendar which will be crowded with tests, therapies, and follow-ups. 

The next step will be an MRI, which the surgeon wants to help guide him in the operation, and he said if the tumor is too large, he will send me for chemo (I think) to reduce the size before operating.  I’m still waiting to hear the date of the MRI appointment.

So, that’s my news.  I had no idea that breast cancer was such a complicated and long journey.  Looking right now at the future, I’m much more concerned about having weeks worth of appointments taking me out of the house than of, say, dying, which doesn’t seem too likely.  I hate the expectation of pain and loss of easy movement.  I’m not afraid of dying, but I might feel quite differently, I know, if I really came up against it.

Friends and family have been generous in giving me support.  Ricardo’s sister will be driving up from Portland to take care of him (and me) just before the surgery.  A dear friend who has been through cancer herself took me to the biopsy, and will take me for the MRI.  Our daughter has gone with me to the doctor, taken me out for tea lattes, and has been supportive in every way.  Ricardo feels very sad that he can’t be accompanying me physically through this, but he is a rock of support in every other way.  So, I am not alone and I have much to be thankful for.

I know there are a few people who will be reading this, and I would be grateful for your prayers and support.  It seems to me that life delights in the unexpected, and it is probable that I will learn a lot on this journey.  Thank you for your company.

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3 Responses to Diagnosis: Breast Cancer

  1. Teri in VA says:

    I’ll be praying for you. Please keep us posted.

  2. tara says:

    I am praying for you.

  3. jaykaym says:

    I am so very sorry and I will certainly be sending you my strength and healing thoughts.

    My experience with breast cancer is not my own but through my daughter who was diagnosed at age 27 (now five years later doing fine!) and one of my very good friends who was diagnosed about the same time as you were. I can assure you that once the initial, interminable flurry of appointments, scans, and test subsides and you are finally able to go to the active treatment portion you will feel a bit less overwhelmed. Although it will be hard, it will be doable and you must remember to ask and allow friends and family to help. They will not know what you need so you will need to be direct with your needs and they will appreciate that directness. As a mother and friend I can say that we want to do the right and helpful thing, but we just don’t know that that is. We appreciate having you tell us what you need.

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