Do you like guessing games?
Personally, I hate them.
Unless the clues are super easy.
As in, so very easy that I don't even have to use my brain.
So, I'm kind of sorry to say that we are going to play a guessing game today.
I promise to quickly put you out of your misery though.
Here's your first clue.
I just this very minute realized that this particular clue could lead some of you to believe that I have a granddaughter on the way.
I do not have a granddaughter on the way. At least not that I know of!
So, we'll quickly move on to clue number two.
Which.....could also apply to a baby, but in this case does not.
Okay, enough is enough.
Let's just get it over with.
It is getting easier for me to say, but obviously not easy enough that I could just spit it out on the internet without a little photo help!
Yes. I have breast cancer.
But, according to my much beloved oncologist, my prognosis is excellent!
I've had my surgery.
The cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes - hallelujah!
I've had three rounds of chemo so far.
I don't need radiation.
I'm settling into a routine.
I'm going to be just fine.
It's most definitely not the summer I had planned, (my poor garden!) but I can honestly say it's still shaping up to be a very good summer.
I've been surrounded by family and amazing friends and wonderful neighbors. Meals galore. Thoughtful gifts. Lots of company that is happy to do as much or as little as I'm feeling up to at any given moment.
Lots of movies and sitting on the dock "pond watching", as my niece says.
My hubby has been my caregiver. He sat by my side for two solid weeks after my surgery. Waited on me hand and foot. Emptied my drains. (If you don't know what that means - ignorance is bliss.) I can't even begin to list all the things he's done for me and all the support and love he has given throughout this journey.
He's a keeper, oh yes he is.
My boys, my daughter-in-law, my parents, my sister and her family, my brother, all my in-laws.....all of them have been there for me, but that doesn't surprise me one little bit. They are amazing people and I am so thankful for them.
My bff is getting ready to make her third thousand mile round trip visit to keep me company.
My support circle is huge and wonderful and has made this journey so much easier.
Blogging about this has not been a priority for me, but now that the dust has settled, I do have a few things I want to share, and if it makes a difference for even one of you, I'll be thrilled.
I've had yearly mammograms for at least ten years now. I have not been anything even remotely resembling diligent with self exams. I relied on my mammos to do most of the work, and gave the girls the once over whenever it crossed my mind, which was not very often.
I had my last mammogram in September, and in April I found a lump - a rather large one, but not during a self exam. I just kind of noticed it. They did a new mammogram, compared it to my old mammogram, did an ultrasound and a biopsy and long story short, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Between diagnosis and surgery three weeks later, my tumor had pretty much doubled in size.
Ultimately, I really don't want to bore you with the details, and there are many, many details and a whole new vocabulary to learn and statistics that show that even though they think they got everything, there's still a chance they didn't. It's all a part of what everyone seems to want to call the "new normal".
For the record, I hate the words New Normal.
But here's the thing that I really want to say.
Don't be like me.
I'm an experiential learner, and unfortunately that means that often, I have to learn things the hard way. If I read this very story on your blog and you told me that I should start doing monthly self exams and that I shouldn't rely on my yearly mammogram it would not have changed one single thing for me. I would have probably thought that yes, I should probably do more frequent exams, but then I wouldn't have given it another thought.
But, if by some chance you are even a tiny bit smarter than me and could possibly learn something from my story and go from non-existent or infrequent self exams to regular self exams?
That? That would make my day.
Did you know this statistic?
I did not know this statistic.
Statistics do very weird things to me. In a very silly and totally ridiculous way, I kind of feel like I've taken one for the team for seven of my friends/female family members. Seven of them are safe from breast cancer. But which seven? I have more than seven ladies in my life that are very important to me. I am no longer physically capable of taking another one for the team, so this means you all are going to have to step up and catch this ugly disease as early as possible, because you just may be the next one in your very own personal group of eight.
This little blog currently has 1320 followers. Most of which I'm assuming are female. If my calculator serves me right, 158 of you will get breast cancer at some point in your life. (If that math is wrong, I blame chemo brain.) And if you dodge the actual breast cancer bullet, you will doubtless still be touched several times over by someone with this disease.
My cancer was very fast growing, and maybe I would not have found my tumor any earlier even if I had been doing regular exams, but that's not the point.
The point is, that for you or someone you know and love, regular exams could be the difference between discovering cancer still contained in the breast, and cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes and then possibly on to who knows where else.
I think I'm done now.
Aren't lectures fun?
This was fun, yes?
I know. It's not a fun subject, but as I said before, if it makes a difference for even one of you, then it's worth the departure from posts about flowers and photography.
p.s. I have a little favor to ask of y'all.
I need you to know that I am 100% comfortable with my treatment plan.
I know chemo is from the devil. However, I don't need to hear that chemo will kill me faster than cancer will kill me, even though I know there are going to be some of you who feel that way.
I love chemo!
I HATE chemo, but I am having chemo and I've made my peace with all the ugliness that comes along with it.
Please join me in my chemo peace!
Also? I know that your great Uncle Herbert's cousin's brother who works at the local hardware store has a neighbor whose sister was cured of cancer by eating seaweed during the full moon of every month that contains the letter S.
I also know that there are many, many, many other treatment alternatives out there. I know that people have very strong feelings about various cancer treatments.
Again, I need you to know that I am 100% comfortable with my treatment plan.
And if you love me even a little bit, please refrain from including in your comment any sentence that contains both the word "coffee" and the word "enema".
Now it's time for my morning nap, so you all go and have a great day!
But not until you've done your breast exam!