Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Question for My Readers

Cara came home Friday night. As an RA, she gets 4 - 24 hour blocks of personal time a month. She used one of them for 'mommy time' as she phrased it. Listening to her talking about 'her' girls was fun. She's really cut out to be an RA. She managed to get a rapist to confess. That was a hair raising story right there. I learned that Cara is capable and resourceful and level headed and brave.

We went to see Francesca Battistelli Saturday night at a historical theater. It was really lovely. We took Brianna, and ran into other friends there. That was a nice Saturday, walking back to our cars in the dark and laughing.

Church gathered close around me, to hug me and to weep. Their tears must have unfrozen my own, because last night I climbed into bed where Tim was waiting. I opened my mouth to speak and started to cry. Tim, surprised, said "Hey, now, you don't need to cry...." but actually I did, I think. I cried about the pending loss of my breast, and I find myself thinking perhaps I should request a bilateral mastectomy. I'm going to ask for a diagnostic mammogram on the right breast as well, because back at the beginning you remember, there was another lump there. Now I cannot tell so much. The lumps from the medport scar tissue make it hard to figure out what's going on there, so I figure that mammogram is prudent. I cried about my hair, just barely grown back from the last chemo. I cried about something else, too. A question that occured to me. A lot of people read this blog and most of you never take the time to comment, but I'm going to ask: Do any of you know anyone that had a second bout w/ breast cancer...and won? Anyone?

15 comments:

Caroline said...

I know several women who have had BC a second time/recurrence who are here years later. Cancer is treated as a chronic condition now. Breast cancer was my second cancer diagnosis. My first one was in 1981 - thyroid cancer - and I'm still here. That's what counts.

On the single vs. bilateral mast, I have friends who did a single and later went back to be 'evened out' so their reconstructed breast would match the other. And several others who just went with the mast for a multitude of reasons - if you don't have a breast, you cant get more breast cancer, or because of wanting to be even. That is a very personal choice. I would probably do a bilateral with immediate reconstruction. But that would be my choice. Its your body and you get to choose in this respect.

Lesley said...

YES!!! And you know her personally too Debby..... Mom. She had it in her left breast, same as mine, and then 4 years later, it came back in the right breast. She didn't find it tho, the Dr. found it. It was in the scar tissue I think. And it has been 30+ years now and she's been cancer free. That's why I am having the other mastectomy done after the first of the year. I'm not going to wait for it to come back. I wanted the bi-lateral mastectomies done myself but none of the Drs. around here would do them... and they had some legitimate reasons... but it was still very disappointing and hard that they wouldn't. That is one of my biggest fears is that this will come back... and I look at Mom and see how good she has done, and try to keep believing that we BOTH will beat this crap called 'cancer'. Keep your chin up and if you need to, give Mom a call!!! *HUGS* We Love Ya Deb!!!

Lesley said...

It referrence to Caroline's comment... "if you don't have a breast, you cant get more breast cancer"... according to the oncologist that I go to, Dr. Al-Hattab (he's tied in with Roswell Cancer Centers), a person CAN get breast cancer even after mastectomies but that the risk is only like 3% chance. I'm not saying that to scare/worry you either Deb!!! One thing he told me was that if you still have your ovaries and stuff, that that puts you at a higher risk of cancer coming back too cause I had a simple hysterectomy done years ago and had my ovaries left... and now he's really leaning towards me having the ovaries taken out.

Bush Babe said...

As you may already know, Mum's breast cancer was her second experience with the Beast. She had had melanoma a few years earlier. Of course, that's not TWO lots of breast cancer. Two lots of cancer though...

I'd go for whatever makes you feel better Deb. Attack the Beast however you can. I'd certainly insist on that other breast being thoroughly checked. You will beat this thing. I know it.

Go Deb's Boots!!!
{{hugs}}
BB

Lila said...

I don't know anyone who has had it a second time so I can't comment on that, however, I have a friend who is having a double mastectomy tomorrow. At the same time she is having tissue expanders put in for implants that will be done later. She has Stage 0 (I didn't know there was a stage 0)in just one breast so I was surprised by the agressive treatment. I know 2 other woman who had lumpectomies and radiation and that was 8 to 10 years ago and they've had no recurrence. My friend's rationale (& her Dr's agreement) is that there will be much less anxiety about always wondering if it will occur in the other breast, she won't have to have periodic PET scans and she also mentioned not having to take drugs later on (taximofin?). I know very little about this, but thought I would pass this along.

A Novel Woman said...

Yes. Several women. Neighbours, friends, too many to list, but YES they have.

I will tell you about my friend Dave because his story changed the way I think about life. Dave didn't have breast cancer, but many years ago he got sick, lost weight, had terrible pain in his gut which his doctor insisted was pancreatitis. This continued for months, and despite more tests with this same doctor, nothing else was found so no other treatment was offered. Dave got progressively sicker and weaker, going from over 200 pounds to 125 pounds and he honestly looked like he was at end-stage AIDS. Yet the doctor patted Dave's wife on the head when she protested something had to be done and said, "You be the wife and let me be the doctor, okay?"

They went for a second opinion. At that hospital, it was confirmed Dave had a huge tumour knotted in his intestines, wrapped around all major organs. Dave had celiac disease, which if untreated, can lead to cancer. It had been untreated for 50 years because he didn't know he had the disease.

At this hospital, there was a team of twelve doctors who determined whether someone gets surgery or not. Eleven of the twelve voted no. His cancer was deemed too advanced. Plan his funeral, they advised, and let him go home to live out his days, which they all reckoned was a few weeks at best. Only one doctor fought for him. One. He argued Dave had been through enough and he deserved a chance, for no other reason than he showed such tenacity and courage in the face of this disease. Dave got his surgery that night.

What followed were months of chemo and eventually a stem cell transplant. What never wavered was Dave's reaction to everything that happened to him. He was always optimistic and confident that everything was going to be okay. Yes, he cried, yes he got nervous, but he stayed focused on recovery. He amazed the doctors when he'd wake up from a surgery and instead of feeling nauseous, he'd say he was feeling a bit peckish and could he have some fries, please?

Dave is now fat and happy and his old self. His OLD self, because that was about 15 years ago. Every six weeks he goes to the Hope and Cope meeting at the hospital to talk to other patients about not giving up. He's a living, breathing example of what can be.

So be angry, sad, frustrated, scared but don't ever, ever give up. Read Bernie Siegel's book LOVE, MEDICINE and MIRACLES. Read Viktor Frankl's MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING. Walk in the woods and feel the energy there. Think about all the people you love and who love you back. And fight.

WhiteStone said...

I think everyone else has already said it. Amen.

Anonymous said...

A friend who had breast cancer asked her oncologist about having a single masectomy vs removing both of them when no cancer was found in the other one. It was of his opinion to remove them both. He told her when the mouse is in the house, get ride of the house. Just one of those things I remember. If it were my house, I would tear it down!

Pam said...

A young woman (38) that I work with at school. Her mother has, quite literally, had breast cancer the majority of Heather's life. She's still alive and well and fighting.

I actually met her last Spring when she was here for Heather's son' grade school graduation.

She's my shining example of 'living' with breast cancer.

Pam said...

Oh, and before she came last spring she had just completed another round of chemo.

Anonymous said...

As BB said above, Deb, I have had a couple of rounds and obviously am still here to annoy everyone. Seriously though, if I had a recurrence I definitely would consider a double-m, but with the provise that Lesley has, about it being possible to already have a spread elsewhere. But it is a very personal decision. When I was having chemo one of the nurses had had one breast removed, and then got a different type of breast cancer in the other breast, so went back for another mastectomy. But she and I are both still here 16 and a half years later. My personal view is to do everything possible you are comfortable with. This life is not a rehearsal. And along with Novel Woman I can also personally recommend Bernie Siegel. I believe in attack from every possible side as I think there can be many causes and it is so important to help the immune system to deal with it all. All the treatment in my view is just there to support the immune system while it does its job on the body. So take every medical bit of help you feel right with, pray and meditate, use relaxation to let your immune system work un hindered and laugh and love and enjoy life.
We are all here for you and your family Deb and send you healing thoughts and love. Barb

Anonymous said...

I have had cancer in 3 diferent body parts in 4 years. Now going strong, happy and healthy. One member of my cancer supprt group had breast cancer twice, five years apart. That was 10 years ago and she is doing fine. Just get the best care you can and BELIEVE you will be OK.

Debby said...

Anonymous number 1. I can see your point, but when I have a mouse in my house, I just buy decon. Sorry. I couldn't resist.

Thanks everybody. I guess I was having a low point.

corymbia said...

So good to read all these positive stories.

I only know of a friend's mother who had a double mastectomy ... she had cancer in both breasts and they were both removed at the same time. That was about 10 years ago.

big hugs from me (like BB and J - also in Oz).

PaintedPromise said...

YES! just ran into a friend of Randy's from high school at the Costco last week... his wife has had breast cancer twice and is a survivor. hers was really weird though... when it came in the second breast it was a different kind and the doctor said thank goodness they did NOT take both the first time or it would have manifested somewhere else...

however i always remember my old boss' wife... he fought the insurance company to take off the second breast as well, didn't want her to go through it twice even though there was "no cancer" in the second breast... well when they finally agreed and took both off, guess what they found hiding from the mammogram in the second breast? yup it was already there...

i'd rather do it all at once personally, i think the friend's wife above was maybe the exception to the rule... i've sure heard a lot more stories FOR than against...