So here's the email for anyone I didn't catch in my high drama group emails:
January 12, 2009
As anyone who knows me knows, I hate the holidays. This past "holiday" season was no different at all. Well, actually it was kind of nice up until I found a lump in my breast and had to go to the doctor. That would be December 18th. On December 23rd at 3:30pm or so they called to tell me "highly suspcious of malignancy" and that I needed a biopsy right away. I won't bore you with the horrific details of trying to get medical care in Riverside over the holidays. Eventually I gave up (one can only drive their own "films" all around town to no avail for so long) and went to UCLA Medical Center. I saw a wonderful specialist last Thursday who reviewed my "films" (from July 23, 2008's regular annual mammogram and the new not so improved December films) and immediately got me in for a biopsy last Friday at which time he told me the chances are 95% that I have breast cancer. I was clinging to the 5% odds (even though I'm a pessimist at heart , especially when it comes to my life).
Of all the times to be "typical" and within the average, this is not the one I would have picked. I was not part of the 5%. I do indeed have breast cancer. The pathology report came back today and it is the "as suspected/ what they would expect for a woman my age" milk ductal cancer. I have the MRI tomorrow (Tuesday) at 11 and if that shows it isn't anywhere but this spot, what I'm in for is a lumpectomy, 3 to 4 months of chemo and then 5 to 6 weeks of radiation. A 6 to 8 month process surgery to end (well, except the hair re-growth, that'll be a few years). Happy 2009!! There is a small chance the chemo wouldn't be needed if the lump turns out to be smaller than 1 centimeter, but from the ultrasound it appears to be 1.5 centimeters so it's not likely they are off by that much. I have the "treatment plan" meeting Thursday afternoon and I'll have more specifics. BUt I had a nice long talk with the doctor tonight and learned a few things (like the fact that the chemo is the standard of care for a woman my age--and he means because I'm young! Bless him. And Shawna had already tipped me off that this would be the case).
The surgery (if it's "just" a lumpectomy) will be in a week to 10 days and I'll only be off work for a few days. I'm hoping for January 22nd or 23rd, because that fits with my schedule (not that I'm getting my way on any of this!). The doctor thinks I can continue to work during chemo, but it's different for everyone (I have no choice in this as I'm pretty sure starvation and homelessness will not aid in my recovery). So I have every intention to work as much as I possibly can. If any of you know anyone who needs estate planning and won't mind a bald attorney, please send them my way!
Everyone keeps asking me if there is anything they can do. Well if you can babysit a beagle (thanks, Michelle!) that will come in very handy. If you can be on call to answer my clients questions when I can't (thanks John and Jane!) that's also great. Funny emails and great distractions (great stories, Lori and great pictures, Mike!) help, as does some limited (I'm squeamish) medical info (thanks Norm, Stacey, Eileen and Shawna), heck at this point I'll even take your prayers (thanks Jamy, trai, and well, probably all of you now!).
Here's what doesn't help---more stories about how so and so had a lump and it was nothing. Or "it's amazing what they can do now and it's not nearly as bad as it used to be." Because here's what my mind does with that...."okay so one in eight women get breast cancer..." and everytime someone told me "oh so and so had to have a biopsy and it turned out to be nothing" my mind went, okay, now my odds of having cancer are 1 in 7; then someone else would tell me "oh so and so had a biopsy and it was nothing" and I'd go "Okay, now I'm 1 in 6." And so on. I know that's insane, but hey, I'm entitled!! So now I'm kinda doing the same thing on my odds with the treatment and all, so just no more of those stories. I'm good with my own statistics and odds and all that. (Call me selfish). I know, I know, you'd think the positive stories would help, but again, I'm a pessimist! I pretty much think "what the hell do I care how it used to be? They're still giving me chemo!!!"( Note to self: check with doctor. I may be in the anger stage of this whole process...)
I also would love to talk to everybody every day, but I can't (I couldn't do that when I was not running back and forth to LA for healthcare) so please put up with my group emails. (I probably should get one of those "unsubscribe buttons" though so you can opt out if you want!). Plus with email I can respond on my Blackberry as Chris chaueffers me around through all this! Those of you on Facebook it will be super easy to update and keep in touch. My new status will be "Teresa is Cancerous!" (Okay, I'm kidding). pretty much I will be working and dealing with this and that's about it. So expect some shorthand updates.
Chris is going with me to all of the appointments and managing everything at home and being pretty dang wonderful. Seamus is also reminding me that cancer is no problem at all, so I have that to go on.
Okay, that's it for now. I'll follow up after Thursday's "treatment plan" meeting probably. Oh, and I don't really care who "knows"--it's not like I'll be able to hide this for long. I just really want to keep my business going so I'm hopeful people don't just write me off as "unavailable" too soon!