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A Journey into the Unknown

Only about 12 percent of women in their lifetime will take this journey. I’m one of the chosen ones.

Time for a Trip to the Beach

I’ve never gone to a nude beach or even a topless one. I’ve never even been tempted. In fact, it would be so embarrassing, I don’t think’ I’d ever recover.

For the last two years, my mammogram reports told me that I have dense breasts. I took that as a compliment. A big improvement, I thought and bragged about them to my friends. Wahoo! Time for a trip to the beach! Finally, something to show off.

A busty friend of mine laughed, “Me too!”

That was a good sign. Maybe they were finally growing after 65 years, but I wasn’t ready for the big reveal yet. They still seemed about the same to me.

A year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went in for Brachytherapy, had a little insert and five days of intensive radiation directly on the spot and poof, all good again.

That was her, this is me. No worries.

Sometime between this year and last year’s mammogram, I noticed a dimple in my left breast. Should I have rushed back and had another mammogram??? It was just a little dimple. I love dimples, and I’ve put on a few pounds so I didn’t think a thing about it. Apparently, my decision was wrong.

Don’t Assume

On June 11 the W.I.S.H. clinic in Fresno called me with the news that I have breast cancer.

https://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/information-support/facing-breast-cancer/diagnosed-breast-cancer/primary-breast-cancer

Not that it will mean anything to you and it’s TMI but I’m going to bore you anyway. Clinically I have a Stage IT1cN0M0 Grade 1ER+ (estrogen) PR+ (progesterone) and her2-

What does all that mean? The surgeon explained it as she scribbled it on my report for me but I still had to google it.

Tumor size (T)

  • T1—Smaller than 2 cm (about 1 inch) Of course, I only have about five inches by two inches of breast tissue altogether on a good day. So that’s about 10-20% for me. The surgeon said, “You might be a bit asymmetrical after surgery. Vince kindly said, “I love asymmetrical!”

Nodes (N): Lymph nodes under the arm and neck

  • N0—No lymph node involvement

Metastases (M): means whether cancer has spread outside the breast and underarm, or “metastasized”

Seriously, I thought, “No biggie. Just get it done, recuperate for a couple of weeks and get on with life. Why does everyone get so worked up about a simple lumpectomy?

A simple lumpectomy followed by six weeks of radiation five days a week, then an anti-hormone drug for five to seven years. Then, if I’m still alive, I’m done, unless it comes back.

Unexpected Obstacle on the Journey

Moji says, “I’m clean. I wash myself every day.”

Okay, even that’s not bad, very doable. But then I found out that I have to stay completely away from my kitties. Now that hurt! They can’t get on my lap or anywhere close to my face.

They have nasty dander.

I can’t clean litter boxes. Now that’s a shame, don’t you think?

I can’t do anything for a week after surgery. No dishes, no making the bed, no vacuuming, no watering the garden, not even walking the dog. I can work in the garden, though if I don’t lift anything. That’s easy, right?

“And you’re going to feel good,” Cindy, the adorable PA said.

“I do everything anyway,” Vince quipped. “A whole week? Really?”

“You can watch tv and read, but only spend an hour on the computer. You need to walk around every hour or so. You can’t exercise until the surgeon tells you it’s okay. Gosh, it’s like a vaca.

I can’t eat at a smorgasbord restaurant. That limits things in rural Woodlake. Vince won’t go near one anyway. Too many hands in the food for my sweet germaphobe.

One in Eight Women Will Go on this Journey

https://utswmed.org/medblog/why-breast-cancer/

My surgeon told me to tell my friends not to ignore the signs like I did. As an obedient patient, I’m telling you my story so you will be careful. Most women don’t die from breast cancer because it’s treatable. But look at how involved it is to have the lowest grade and stage of a slow-growing type of cancer.

So as I start this journey, feel free to share your experiences with me, and through me, with others that might one day have to go on the journey themselves. See you along the path.

17 replies »

  1. After reading the first few paragraphs of this post MVBFM, I was preparing myself to read the rest of it with my eyes closed 😜
    And then …. WHAM !! What a shock ! I am so happy for you that you caught this early. Get well soon dear Marsha.
    After reading all the things that you can and cannot do, I bet you five US dollars that you will break every one of them and do everything you are told not to do before a week is out 🤗💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL, MFR. You were going to read my post with your eyes closed. That doesn’t make me sound like much of an interesting writer! I’m glad I shocked you into reading the rest of it. It was and wasn’t a shock for me. A shock that I’m getting old enough to be getting it. Most of my family had cancer of some kind in their sixties, no breast cancer, though. So I’m a little different. I made it almost to 70, so I was feeling pretty proud of myself. I feel great but was more tired than I like to be. I went for a physical and found out why I was tired at least. Don’t count on me breaking the rules. I mean to live it up! Nothing says I can’t have V drive me to the beach or lay by the pool with a book all day long. Sounds pretty wonderful to me. V is much more upset by the whole thing than I am. 🙂 How are you doing? I’m way behind on reading your blog, so you don’t have to answer that until after I read your blog and get caught up. 🙂 BTW, this is totally off the subject, but my notifications don’t come up with I click the bell at the top anymore. Have you had that problem?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear this news. Best wishes during your recovery.

    I too had been told I have dense breast tissue and I know it is a risk factor. I have regular screenings but it’s always in the back of my mind.

    Like

    • Thanks Joanne. The takeaway point being, “don’t ignore anything. The follow up mammogram is more intense if you discover something. Thanks again for your kind words! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had a scare on my last mammogram when the lab requested another one with an ultrasound. I was ultimately given a thumbs-up but it really rattled me. I have a very small sense of how you must have felt.

        Like

  3. I’m sorry to hear your news, Marsha. May they blast those troublesome cells into kingdom come (or somewhere far away at least). May your treatment and recovery be not too discomforting, and may you be enjoying good health again soon. Remember to look after yourself. You’re important to many.

    Like

    • Thanks Smiling T, I’m glad, too. Vince gets all excited. “It’s almost here!” Silly guy! I’m not very nervous, but I will be happy when it’s over. Thanks again for your kind words and thoughts. 😍😍

      Like

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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