Currently, I'm still in recovery mode of a major life altering event.
If you are new to my blog, on August 15th, 2012 I was diagnosed with early Breast Cancer (BC): Severe High Grade III (3) Ductal Carcinoma in situ (DCIS) Solid Type, in multiple locations throughout my right breast. Meaning that the cancer was contained in the milk ducts at that time. This is an aggressive, non-invasive breast cancer, but if left untreated it can spread outside the ducts and become invasive breast cancer. Here's a little blurb from breastcancer.org: In the high-grade pattern, DCIS cells tend to grow more quickly and look much different from normal, healthy breast cells. People with high-grade DCIS have a higher risk of invasive cancer, either when the DCIS is diagnosed or at some point in the future. They also have an increased risk of the cancer coming back earlier — within the first 5 years rather than after 5 years.
Two weeks later on 8/30/12 I had a Bilateral Total Mastectomy with Sentinel Node Biopsy (3 nodes removed) without breast reconstruction (more DCIS with Necrosis was found that didn't show up on scans). Life was spinning fast at this point.
Recurrence within 5 years is small, only a 1-3% chance. I can't express enough how very lucky I am (thanks to Mark) that my breast cancer was, just by chance, caught early. This type of BC is silent - it has no signs or symptoms and typically only shows up on a mammogram. The thought of what could have happened had I not taken action when I did is quite an eye opener as it was basically one step away from the invasive stage. Needless to say, things would have turned out a lot different. In fact, due to how it was accidently found, I almost blew it off. That alone scared the heck out of me. You can read more of how it was discovered, etc. in the links below.
While my initial fight to win was somewhat short, that does not dismiss all that I have gone through, and currently going through. I've had to deal with the fears, emotions, pain, frustration, loss, and much more. It's at least a year long recovery process and I feel very blessed that I did not have to go through chemo or radiation since it was all removed, but my heart is heavy for those who have to go through all of that and more. I was our best friends chemo buddy and know what that is like.
Maybe people are tired of hearing me talk about it, post about it, or blog about it. But guess what? This isn't a paper cut... it's the ugly "Breast Cancer" word that I thought I would NEVER hear. It still feels surreal at times, but trust me when I say reality sunk in and I'm okay. And while I can't deny that it was a HUGE initial shock, not only for me but family and friends as well. I do NOT feel sorry for myself or am looking for pity. People who know me are full aware of my strengths and how I am as a person. Grant it, many years ago I would not have been able to handle this as I am now. But all the bad and painful stuff that has happened in my life has made me the strong and positive person that I am today. On the flip side, I'm human so yes I have fears and other emotions, but my motto that I live by is 'Never Give Up' - ever!
So why am I sharing this with all the world to see? A new perspective for starters. I am NOT going to be quiet about this, hide in a corner or be ashamed of my body. I want to be an active part of Breast Cancer Awareness not only in hopes of finding a cure, but so that other women are not afraid or embarrassed to do self-checks, yearly doc exams, mammograms, etc. Why should we be quiet about something that can change our lives? Besides, if the guys can talk about penile dysfunction and Viagra, then us gals can certainly talk about our breasts.
There are so many thoughts buzzing in my head and things to share, but I'll do that a little at a time. For instance, all the odd 'in my face' signs just prior to being diagnosed, research I've done and still doing on breast cancer, mastectomy surgery, designing my tattoo(s), future photo session, why I have chosen not to test for the BRCA gene, and so much more. Consider this my open diary that I share with my whole heart in hopes of helping and supporting others in all stages and forms of Breast Cancer. Everyone needs support - even if it is just a shoulder to cry on or an ear to lend. Oh and no this is not all I'm going to talk about on my main blog... I have a life to live, and it's a good life!
To my hubby (who MADE me call the doctor), my boys, my entire family, friends, customers and people that have reached out to me that I don't even know - from the depths of my heart I thank you for your love, support and kindness!
Below are links to my blog posts in order of how I kicked breast cancer's butt, my continued recovery status and helpful links:
Rocki vs Breast Cancer - round 1
Rocki vs Breast Cancer - round 2
Reality Check - 3 days until surgery
Tomorrow is a New Day and My Hubby Rocks!
Rocki vs Breast Cancer - Surgery
Rocki vs Breast Cancer - TKO
Bilateral Total Mastectomy Recovery - Day 10
Bilateral Total Mastectomy Recovery Status - Day 15
Breast Cancer Awareness Tattoo - Warrior Badge
I'm Gonna Love You Through It
Open Journal - Current Status Post Bilateral Mastectomy
Clothes Shopping Weekend - scored big time!
My gloves are on, so bring it on! - new tattoo!
Mastectomy Scars Healing - VIDEO
FUNNY How Time Flies!
Why I Wear Pink
Wash Away the Year and Celebrate the Happy
I'm done and movin' on (diagnosed with Lymphedema)
Fun First Day in Sedona
My mastectomy photos without reconstruction:
Mastectomy Photos without reconstruction
Bilateral Total Mastectomy Photos - 6 Month Post-Op
Mastectomy Scars Healing
Breast Cancer Walk - 1st year as a Survivor
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk
Breast Cancer Awareness, Support and Information.
There is a variety of good info online about all types of Breast Cancer and then of course not so good. BreastCancer.org and the National Breast Cancer Foundation has a great deal of info, especially DCIS and is a good place to start. Additional links will be continually added.
National Breast Cancer Foundation
American Cancer Society
Susan G. Komen
Shaken Not Stirred...A Chemo Cocktail, by my friend Joules Evans (excellent book)
The Scar Project
Lymphedema Information, Compression Garments and Alert Bands/Bracelets:
National Lymphedema Network
Lymphedema People - Guidelines
National Cancer Institute
CORAL - Center for Oncological Rehabilitation and Lymphedema (Arizona)
Lauren's Hope - Medical ID/Alert Jewelry
MedIDs - Medical ID/Alert Jewelry
My motto is and always will be: Never Give Up! No matter if it is a goal to reach or one of many obstacles to overcome that life throws at you - with a positive attitude, strength, determination, faith, willpower and the love and support of family and friends, you will get through it - usually with a better outcome.