Tata my Tatas

What a whirl wind of a few weeks. But by now I'm just ready to chop the things off and move on with life. 

The decision to do the bilateral, was never that hard for me. My gut had been saying all along to just "double down". For obvious reasons of cancer coming back, cutting out the constant worry and also for symmetry. I don't want them to look different and have to deal with that my entire life. And for the family chart we figured out. Everyone who had singles - cancer came back and they lost their fight. Doubles are still living. Also, most people I have talked to, more people regret the lumpectomy/single mastectomy. I haven't talked to someone yet that regrets getting the mastectomy. (I'm sure there are, but I haven't met you). I'm a big believer in signs and the universe having my back. So I took that one as a big one. Case Solved. 

So far what we know of now. 
Oh, and the tumor will now be referred to as "Clawrilla" - hence it looks like an evil claw.

  • My MRI shows I'm more like Stage 2. Since the tumor (Clawrilla) looks to be 2.2-2.5 cm. In between the size of a nickel and quarter. It is not symmetrical and has a tail, so I think the size is wonky anyways. 
  • Clawrilla is  Estrogen and Progesterone Positive. Which is a good thing. It just shows what the cancer is feeding off of. Which is better to treat me after and later in life. Hormone therapy! yay! 
  • Clawrilla is HER2 negative. Also a good thing. Not as aggressive and lesser chances of needing chemo
  • My MRI, 3D mammogram, and more ultrasounds show that my lymph nodes look pretty good and it doesn't look like it has spread. (but won't know for sure until after surgery)
  • Clawrilla is Grade 2 cancer. Not the innocent kind, not the agressive kind but in the middle. 
  • I have a big family history of breast and ovarian cancer (I'm actually the 10th in my family line)

So what does all this mean, it kind of means, I'm in the average/medium breast cancer that everyone gets. It isn't highly aggressive yet, but it also isn't brand spankin' new. All normal, well except my age, me being 30 puts me in the 1% group. In all honesty, I'd rather be in the other 1% that the rest of the US complains about. 

And yes, I mentioned chemo, I won't know if I need chemo or radiation until after the surgery. After they check my lymph nodes and my full pathology report comes in. 

Now for the right team. This is all a big decision. As I'm not that worried about this cancer right now, I'm more worried about it returning later in life...somewhere else. So I obviously want the right team to make sure that doesn't happen. And two, the right team that I trust and am happy to be around. After second, third, fourth, and even unwanted opinions from friends in the community, friends in the field, doctors, surgeons, people who have lived through this, etc. I figured since (you see me quoting this now) "It is early, treatable and doesn't look that bad," (knock on wood) I wanted comfort and trust to play a big role in my team. Yes if I had something more aggressive and abnormal I would be running to the best in the land. But from what I hear, I'm pretty normal - in the breast cancer world. (again knock on wood)

Some of the best advice I also got, was go with the best for right now, you can't plan for the unknown. 

When it comes down to it, you have to do your own research, dig deep to understand what you have, research the best, research the worst, put all options on the table, be open minded....THEN GO WITH YOUR GUT. 

GUT says...

Double Down with Jones on the 8th. 

Hopeful for the win and to never return!

Tata sweet Tatas.



the dirty thirty

Well, here goes. The start of this blog. I think it will therapeutic over this lovely adventure and I can give updates to my lovely supporters. 

First off I would like to apologize to my sweet and amazing business partner, for the pain I will be putting you through.....I'm talking about the grammatical errors in this blog. (yeah about leaving her for a month or two as well) Seriously though, this is a judge free zone with no rules...I've got enough cancer rules right now...grammar rules are not as high on my list. But obviously creating a logo for the blog was high up. I mean priorities. 

Back to basics...

Truth is I was nervous about turning the big dirty thirty, for reasons that had to do with everyone else's 29.999 struggle. I'm no longer my youthful 20 something self. Have I accomplished what I wanted to by 30? Am I satisfied with myself at 30? You set your life goals and we all have a vision of who you are at 30. At my official 30th birthday I came to decision that I was finally pretty pumped about where I was. I have run a successful business for 5+ years, my work and name had been published in national magazines, I live in a pretty awesome town and I'm surrounded by amazing family and friends. I just had an amazing birthday celebration surrounded by close to 100 Cville friends dancing the night away at a silent disco party. I'm pretty lucky I thought. 

Until 3 weeks after that amazing dance party, I was talking to a close friend and discussing her experience with breast cancer. She was diagnosed at age 27, pretty early and treatable and had a bilateral mastectomy.  I have always been fascinated by her experience and her courage and strength when she talked about it. My background with breast cancer isn't as peachy. I grew up in hospitals watching my grandmother give an amazing fight against it for 13 years. Just 2 years ago, I sat by my best friend's side as she had to say goodbye to her mother after her tough battle with it. Plus the multiple family members it has affected.  I know the struggle is real. So the fact that she was super upbeat about her experience now, gave me hope but also for some reason made me a little curious that night...

I went home that night and felt my boobies, realizing that I hadn't in awhile since I had traveled so much this year. (I'm usually really good about this). And well lookie here. A damn lump. I definitely thought it was suspect. 

I proceeded to do my weekend activities and not tell anyone. I called up my lovely lady doc to schedule my annual that I was due, thinking I could squeeze this issue in...oh, my doctor is going to Australia for 2 months, oh, okay I'll schedule it then. Hung up. Got a little nervous, maybe I should call back and go earlier. Then my mom called...she was heading to Richmond to get her mammogram. She sees a specialist and has been checking since 30. Then my business partner emails me to look over this flyer for our 10% Tuesday Flyer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I think I said outloud - "Okay Grandma Tunnie, I get your signs, I'll call back!". 

(What is 10% Tuesdays - this year Heather and I chose 3 causes special to us and we decided to give 10% of the profits of each Tuesday of that month toward that cause. April was Parkinson's in honor of my dad who currently battles it. And November will be for Pancreatic cancer which Heather's dad had just lost his battle to it in March.)

What I felt good about the next few appointments, were that nobody seemed to put me in the corner and tell me to wait. I've heard horror stories of women being told to wait and then they say oh your so young, it isn't anything. Good thing I had a pocket full of history to shut that down. 

I remember sitting in the ultrasound room after she had taken a few snaps of it. She ran out to show the doctor to see if he wanted more tests. As I wait, I stared the thing down. As the image repeated itself on the ultrasound screen, the black claw looked so ominous, I think I knew then and there what it was. But I remained calm. Proceeded to the Mammogram and then rushed to see a Breast Surgeon who was delayed from surgery. As he was about to give me a biopsy right then and there, I was like ummm I am hosting a bachelorette party with 12 people this weekend that consists of floating down the dirty James and a Paint Ball Fight. After his confusion that girls wanted to play paint ball - we pushed back the biopsy until Tuesday am (Monday was Labor Day). And I proceeded to host a kick ass bachelorette party and not telling a soul...there would be random moments where I would hear my doctor say "This is worrisome". I could see it in all their eyes. I knew, which is why I probably didn't tell anyone, I didn't want to worry other people until it was definitely solid and I did just want one more awesome weekend Cancer Free. 

The day after the biopsy my doctor calls, he says are you in a place to talk - ugh I knew it. So I go to a glamorous ally way behind my store hunched in a corner reading a sign "COMICS+ART" from across the street as he tells me that I have Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I remember my whole body was shaking. I usually have a good grip on my emotions, but my body was reacting before my brain really had. I snapped a photo of that exact spot. In that exact spot, my life as I knew it really had just changed forever. (enter super dramatic music)