Tuesday, October 30, 2007

....no worries

May pathology reports are back. The verdict is, "no invasive carcinoma".

Translation? No cancer, no chemo, no worries.....

There were some scary things on that report though. Cell changes that said it was just a matter of time. My surgeons have all said it was a very wise decision to have this surgery, and good that I did it when I did. I don't regret the decision at all.

Now I will concentrate on healing and getting back to life again...

Monday, October 22, 2007

surviving a pink October

I have to admit that I've found October to be an oddly painful month for the last few years.

October brings constant reminders, everywhere I look, about a disease that has permeated and effected my family for far too long. I also find it irritating that we still don't talk as freely about the other cancers that effect women.

Most people reading here don't know that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, just as October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. In September you scarcely hear about ovca. You definitely don't walk into a Hallmark store and see teal candles on a special display. You don't get offered a teal bracelet for an extra two bucks at your local discount shoe chain. Your favorite oil change place doesn't donate a buck for every customer in Sept. to ovca research...

I hope to one day see that.

After all- look how far we have come with breast cancer.
We remind each other to do our monthly self exams.. We remind each other to get our mammograms.. We have programs in place so that women without insurance can get those mammograms.
Not too many years ago, people did not even say the word "cancer" out loud.
October now brings in-your-face reminders about breast cancer everywhere you look. I hope someday we are as open about all cancers.

This year, October has been very different for me. I woke up, after a bilateral mastectomy, to a roomful of flowers adorned with pink ribbons. Many of the tags from the florists had messages saying that some money from all orders in Oct. is donated for breast cancer research. These tags are applied to all arrangements- the florist never knowing who is on the receiving end and why....

If wearing pink every day for the rest of my life would guarantee a cure for cancer I would do it.

But it's not the wearing of pink or a pink ribbon magnet on the back of your mini-van. It's the fact that pink everywhere makes us talk to each other. It makes us remind each other to take care of ourselves. It evokes the emotion that countless women should not die from this horrid disease. We need to keep talking and spreading the word....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

time to save my own life.....

I've known for several years that some day I would have surgery to reduce my odds of getting breast or ovarian cancer.
It's funny how life plays your hand sometimes...

Earlier this year, a routine mammogram showed several 'questionable' areas and surgical biopsies were recommended. I had four areas from one breast and two from the other removed. Thankfully all were benign.
It was recommended that I follow up every six months- forever.

A couple of months ago I found a lump and my surgeon wanted to do another biopsy.
I said no.
I have opted instead to have bilateral mastecomies. I refuse to keep having surgery on breasts that I want gone.
I'm not willing to gamble with my life any longer.

This week I will join my sister and thousands of other women who have chosen surgery over the possibility of cancer.

There is a lot of information available for people who want to learn more about family cancers and genetic risks.
One wonderful site is
FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered.

(written September of 2005) I have learned much in the last nine months. I have read that ovarian cancer whispers. I say it screams. It just needs someone to listen. The American Cancer Society statistics for ovarian cancer estimate that there will be 22,220 new cases and 16,210 deaths in 2005. This is a death rate FOUR TIMES that of breast cancer.Almost 70 percent of women with the common epithelial ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced in stage. The 5-year survival rate for these women is only 15 to 20 percent. This is unacceptable. Women need to be made more aware of the symptoms, and doctors need to listen to their patients. Especially when the patient tells them that they fear they have ovca, as my mother did for almost a year before she was finally diagnosed. It’s so sad and senseless when a woman knows the symptoms but can’t get anyone to listen to what she is saying.