Thursday, May 23, 2013

Girls Gone Wild: Suburban Style

Amazing things happen to you when you tell your friends and family you have a disease like Breast Cancer. Suddenly, you realize just how much you matter to people and there are no limits to what people will do for you. First, there are flowers and candy, and brownies (both milk and dark chocolate; SCORE!), Edible Arrangements, cards with words of encouragement, donations made in your name, banana bread, Alex & Ani bracelets, meal deliveries, Angel pins, and Holy Water ("Rub it all over your chest!"). One friend offered to shave my bikini line (no thanks!). Some friends offer to rub my back.

And then some want to rub my front.

Yes, it seems that my tumory breast has now become its own little public service announcement. For a girl whose breasts have never gotten a second glance, now they are getting felt up more than a Sophomore on prom night.

So far I have "Gone to Second" with at least 5 of my women friends who have been so shocked and upset by my news that they needed to see and feel a Cancerous tumor. Sure, they have read about "the signs", but seeing and feeling is another story.

It usually goes like this. I share my news. Then we dash into the bathroom together where I lift up my shirt and then we both look in the mirror, comparing the normal boob to the abnormal boob. And then they feel the lumps and say something like "I didn't expect it to feel like that", or "Your right boob is giving me the stink eye. Make it stop!"

(Side note: Does this make me a lesbian?)

Anyway, you can call me a freak, a hippy, a free wheeling, fancy free kinda gal. (I have seen my share of topless beaches), but seriously, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld,  "It's a nipple. A little round circular protuberance. What's the big deal? See everybody's got them. See I got them."  It's no big deal!  For you men reading this, boobs were meant for feeding babies and somewhere along the way they became these sexual objects.  Tsk Tsk!

So this is what goes on in suburbia, or shall I say, "Suboobia".  If this type of behavior continues, I may have to start my own site called "YouBoob". 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Becky Goes Braless

"Take it in stride", she said.

"She" was the technician who I have come to know over the last few years from my yearly mammographies. She knew I was scared and as I walked out that fateful Tuesday, these were her final words to me.

I thought to myself, "Jeez, that's easier said than done, right?" and then I thought even deeper about it. Was there a hidden message in there? I have done the "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" walk countless times in the past, and now I am being told "Take it in stride".

Is this some sort of hidden message? Was she giving away my diagnosis before the doctor would even call me later that day? I felt like I was part of a secret society now.

Who knows?  God knows, taking each of these steps in stride is NOT easy.

As of this morning, I was joyful, ready for the next step on Friday and sitting in Burger King with my parents and son having coffee. (It's only $1.00 and it's good, don't judge me.) I got pissed off at my bra (even the Genie bra has been uncomfortable lately) so I channeled my deceased Auntie Marie and took that thing off right in the middle of BK. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the Genie Bra, it has no hooks and is much like a sports bra, so it's not as easy to take off in public. I managed and before you know it, that pink baby wormed its way down my legs and sat at my feet. My father was chuckling as he ate his sausage and egg biscuit, my 5 year old was unphased, and my mother had scrambled eggs spewing out of her mouth.  I felt much better now. Today was going to be a great day!

Then the cell phone rang. It was the doctor's office and there had been a change of plans. It turned out the MRI results showed another suspicion in the "axillary area" which would need to be ultrasounded and biopsied tomorrow a.m. Here we go again, I thought. Back to square one. More tests, more waiting, more agita, more wanting to throw up every time the phone rings, more not sleeping, and more pacing.

Sure, I'll just take it in stride. 

I keep telling myself that my agita will go away once I have all the answers and I can handle whatever comes my way. I know this is just another bump in the road and a test to see just how much patience and strength I have. Many people who are in the middle of a diagnosis say that the worst part is the waiting and once they know what they are up against, they can deal with anything.

I would agree with that! This road sure is bumpy. It turns, it twists, and it goes down the majority of the time like a runaway freight train.

This girl is now freed from her shackles and is going Bra Commando. "What's that flapping in the breeze?" you ask. It's Becky Going Braless, once again. And if you can get away with it, I highly recommend it! Just watch out for those speed bumps...

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Left Boob: Taking Matters into My Own Hands

I have been very absent. Have you missed me? A lot has been happening and I thought it was high time I updated my loyal followers.

The short story is, I have Breast Cancer. I found out for sure 11 days ago and when I utter this phrase, I still feel like I am talking about someone else. Unfortunately, it is me, not that I would wish this on someone else, but you get the idea.

I wasn't sure about "going public" with this news, but then I thought my experience might help some other woman out there, even if it's just one, she should know what I am about to say.

How it was discovered
I went for my yearly mammogram in December 2012. It's like my annual Christmas present to myself. At the time, I had just started noticing a dimple on the left side of my left breast and I almost thought I felt a lump too, but thought I was imagining things. You see, as a 45 year old who has nursed 2 kids, I no longer knew my boobies. They had become utter strangers to me. They felt different and I never really knew what was a "lump" or what was just a temporary something else. (I'm kind of shaking as I type this and I feel my blood pressure rising but I need to get through this, all of it.) Long story short, I told the technician who didn't seem concerned and just did her job; that is, squeeze the shit out of my 34A sized fried egg into a vice. I received a call the same day to come back and do a "retake" because the side I had questioned myself, was also not looking normal. They did not scare me, just "come back because the picture isn't good enough."  So, I mildly freaked out and went for the retake. This time, the pictures looked just fine and I was advised to come back in one year, that would be December  2013.

The New Year came and went  but the crease and lump did not. I would stare at myself and think, "Well, I'm getting older, things are getting saggier. Maybe that is why there is a crease." But why wouldn't the other boob follow suit? That one was not showing the same signs.

And then I'd be watching T.V. and find myself touching the lump, over and over again. "Is it really there?" I'd ask myself. I thought I was going nuts and I rubbed that lump so much, I thought I created it! Subconsciously, I could have been scared out of my mind and was paralyzed by it. I was also  having occasional pain in my breast and arm pits. And in the mean time, I spent time with my West Coast sister in-law who had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer less than 2 years ago. She calmly said, "If something doesn't feel or look right, just get it checked to give you peace of mind".

I finally had my annual physical in early April. I mentioned the crease/lump to my primary care physician (who doesn't normally do a breast exam on me) and immediately he said to contact my OB.

I made an appointment with her asap. Upon examination, she ordered an ultrasound. I went for the ultrasound and an exaggerated mammogram on a Tuesday. I then had to take the kids to the dentist. At 5pm I walked in the house and my phone was ringing. You guessed it. My doctor was on the line telling me there was a "suspicious mass near my chest wall". She ordered a biopsy and immediately gave me a list of breast surgeons.

I knew right then it was Cancer. I woke up during the night sobbing and all I could say to my husband was, "I'm terrified".

The next 3 weeks were filled (and still are) with nothing but fear, anxiety and sheer terror. Two areas had been biopsied and both tested positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. I am scheduled for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy this Friday and we will know more soon about the course of treatment. In the mean time, the kids still need to be fed and driven around and life goes on. I am putting my best foot forward but I'm not gonna lie, it's like being on an elevator to Hell sometimes!

I have so much more to say and hope to keep this topic going. There are several morals to this story:

1. Touch yourself as often as you want
2. Trust your gut. It will never, EVER betray you. I listened to mine and I am so thankful I did.
3. Take care of yourself! Yes, you, the one who is always taking care of everyone else or is afraid to go to the doctor. Get your yearly PAP, Mammogram, Colonoscopy, whatever it is you are supposed to do. Just friggin do it.

I am extremely blessed to have a wonderful husband, incredible parents, and a huge network of family, friends, and neighbors to help me through this. I am not sure where the road ahead is leading but I am grateful that I do not have to travel it alone.