Thursday, October 1, 2015

It's that time again

Past midnight now, and so it is October 1st.  I am fully aware that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Of course, I have been aware of breast cancer each day of my life for the past two years. It started with my diagnosis of Stage 3 breast cancer in September 2013.   It is two years ago this month (the 11th) that I had my double mastectomy, with 21 lymph nodes removed on the right (affected) side.  I chose to have my left breast removed as well, as a prophalactic measure, and because I knew that reconstruction would be more "even" if both breasts were "made" the same way.
I was aware of breast cancer throughout my many months of chemotherapy, when sleep was my only savior.  I was aware of victory over cancer when my PET scan came back clear after chemotherapy.  Still, with 19 out of 21 lymph nodes positive for cancer, I had to have 35 rounds of radiation.  I was concientious and persevered to get there every day, five days a week, rain or shine, and there was a lot of rain.
I was aware of breast cancer in the ensuing months, awaiting my reconstruction time, during which I endured the major discomfort of "expanders", rigid against my chest wall, stretching my chest skin, to accomodate the eventual placement of breasts.  It was like wearing a 3 sizes to small underwire bra, 24/7.
I was aware of breast cancer as the surgeons drew on my naked body with sharpies (or maybe something not so indelible) just moments before my 7 hour surgery for reconstruction.
Aware of breast cancer as I woke up, still intubated, in SICU, having suffered acute respiratory failure, moments after my operation.
Aware of breast cancer each and every day since that operation, as I am one of the unfortunates who is suffering pain and severe discomfort even this many months after. 
Aware of breast cancer each time I look at my right arm and hand, swollen from lymphedema.
Aware of breast cancer when I look in the mirror.
Aware of breast cancer every 8 hours when I take my cocktail of meds designed to ease some of the pain.
So, do yourself a favor.   Get a mammogram.  Examine your breasts every month.  I pray that YOUR awareness need only happen once a month, and on a yearly basis.  The odds of becoming free of cancer are amazing, especially if caught early, but I hope you never have to travel that road.

1 comment:

  1. I feel I am the poster child for early detection which took by breasts but saved my life.

    I am sorry you are still coping with the after effects of therapy and surgery. But thank you for helping make other people aware. Early detection does indeed save lives, and in my case, a lot of difficult medical intervention.


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