Posts Tagged ‘carcinoma’

This is not That. Whatever your experience with breast cancer (or any other deadly cancer) this is not that.

I have been trying to make fun of this entire experience, but I’m coming up short when people give me That Look that says they feel terribly sorry that I am even going through this. Please, please, please, don’t look at me like that. In the memory of all the friends we have lost to cancer, don’t look at me like that. I don’t have the kind of cancer that is going to kill me in five years or less.

I started writing about it because this is novel to me, having a firm diagnosis on something. The irony of making the appointment and having the procedure done is not lost on me: I abhor mammograms. I don’t particularly believe in them. And after decades of having something “off” in my body but no one can figure out what it is, suddenly I have something “off” and everyone freaks out. (Maybe not everyone.) There was the mystery of the bleeding kidney (unsolved) and the mystery of the sudden blood clot in my left leg (also unsolved). Tests, C-T scans, biopsies, stress tests, and so on – all with no results.

Indeed, the MRI I recently had reported NO anomalies. The cancer in my left breast is undetectable by MRI, only by mammogram. The irony.

I am basically healthy, aside from year-long “seasonal” allergies and the Covid weight gain of 25#.

Reading the test results and discovering that a carcinoma was growing inside my body was more of a surprise and an immediate feeling of, “OH. BOTHER” than it was terrifying. I mean, seriously, OH. BOTHER.

I won’t lie: the novelty has lost some of its shine as I have gone to appointments and had procedures done. The oncology staff puts on a great show of cheerfulness but underneath their smiles runs a current of “I’m so sorry you are having to go through this” sympathy. My pharmacist looked at the prescriptions I had to fill for my post-operative care and suddenly turned empathetic and sad. “When is the surgery?”

This is not Stage 4. This is not metastatic. This is not Stage 3 or even Stage 2.  This is the simplest form of Stage 1 breast cancer. There is nothing in my history to suggest otherwise and nothing in my blood work to indicate otherwise. They aren’t even talking about chemotherapy (thank the good Lord!).

This is more of a “Whew! Dodged that old bullet, didn’t I?” cancer. More of a “When can we get done with surgery and recovery so I can go back to gardening because this is the month of May” kind of cancer. This is an Oh. Bother. Cancer.

We have a Game Plan. By “we” I mean this sudden influx of extremely compassionate staff and oncologists who are now in charge of my upcoming and ongoing care.

May 10 – ultrasound with contrast to see which lymph node the milk ducts feed into. This is “new”: they used to remove all the lymph nodes in the affected armpit but they discovered milk ducts (where breast cancer usually starts) only feed into one lymph node.

May 11 – lumpectomy to remove a carcinoma that is scarcely 3/8” (0.8cm). See attached photo. I get to go home the same day.

I will be under long term care as any cancer survivor will attest to. This is something I did not know I would have to go through. It’s more of an “Oh, Bother.” Five years of hormone blocking therapy. Yay. What little estrogen my post-menopausal body still produces will be entirely cut off.

Under good news: there will most likely be no radiation treatment and definitely no chemotherapy unless this go completely sideways on Thursday and the tumor is larger than they could see in the mammogram (highly unlikely since the MRI couldn’t see it at all).

Under bad news: no estrogen for five years. More hot flashes (not a bad thing in my world of being constantly cold). Most likely a full beard within a week of therapy (I already have to deal with whiskers every four or five days, so – yay). Twice a year visits to an oncologist to track my progress. Twice a year mammograms (!!) for the foreseeable future.* No magical weight loss due to chemo or radiation (DARN!).

*This, boys and girls, is why we go to have a mammogram done once a year or so – to avoid the bi-yearly squash by highly trained sadists.

To summarize: I am not scared, worried, fearful, or otherwise emotionally attached to the upcoming surgery and procedures. I just want it over. And I don’t want your sympathy. (I’m merely writing about it for the laughs.)

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