Dude Note: I went back and forth a bit whether I should be posting Mrs. Dude’s breast cancer story on this blog. After all…this is a blog about living with celiac disease and how much of my audience really wants to hear about breast cancer?
But this blog is also about community. It’s about spirit. It’s about dealing with adversity. And most of all…it’s about hope.
And to top it off, my audience is roughly 90% female so I guarantee Mrs. Dude’s story may not only resonate with many but if it makes even one single person get a mammogram when otherwise they wouldn’t have, then absolutely we should share.
Hon…take it away.
I want to start by saying I am truly grateful for this amazing community that has been a support lifeline to hubby and now one incredible virtual support team for me! How blessed are we??!!
Here is my story, my journey, my nightmare that I have been thrown into.
I went for my routine gyn/mammogram in May. I have been up to date with my gyn checkup. I had benign fibroids removed last summer. Easy surgery (I was asleep :) ). It alleviated all the uncomfortable issues I was having. On the other hand I was delinquent in scheduling my mammo. I believe it had been a few years. I was naive and and just plain stupid thinking “breast cancer doesn’t run in my family…” About 90% of breast cancer is not genetic.
I had my mammogram in May. They found micro-calcifications. 80% of the time they are benign. Mine were not. Stage 0 DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ).
During my biopsy, they put a marker in my breast so they knew where to do the lumpectomy. They also recommended a breast reduction. This was mentioned by more than one Dr. It wasn’t until my 2 hour meeting with my radiation oncologist that my best friend/sister-in-law Bitz heard what they were saying. If you are a medium to large breasted woman, it makes radiation more challenging. Another benefit is during the surgery this means they can get more tissue out.
She also knows being large breasted woman has not always been a positive experience for me. Shopping is a nightmare and I’m tired of wearing 4 sports bras during my workouts. I love to exercise (it’s cheaper than therapy). She said if you can come out of this nightmare with cute perky breasts – why not girlfriend?!
So after lots of research and meetings with my amazing team of doctors, I was “comfortable”…which really means I was terrified of my decision.
I had my surgery July 3. The first 4 days were tough. I felt like I was was hit by a truck. I had amazing help at home. My cousin/sister/best friend Julie came to be with me. My amazing Mom and Bitz were one fantastic team taking care of me! I am extremely lucky to have the support that I do. I love them all beyond words can ever express.
You are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned Gluten Dude. Well, my sweet adorable hubby decided to play in poison ivy 2 days before my surgery. The morning of my surgery while waiting for me, Bitz noticed Dude scratching up a storm which he said were mosquito bites. She said, “YOU ARE COVERED IN POISON IVY!!”
The next few days were hairy for him as it traveled through his blood stream and down his body. Yuck!! As supportive and loving as he usually is and I know wanted to be, he was the worst nurse in my rotation. Instead of gently telling me to sit down he would bark it (lovingly??). I just didn’t want his open oozy wounds near me. Well, my mom, otherwise know as “Super Mema” ended up nursing him back to health as well. Once he went on steroids he felt much better.
Dude note: I was just looking for attention. Ok, carry on…
5 days post surgery I worked my way up to walking 4 miles. By day 8 I was feeling great.
Until the doctor called with my pathology results.
I had more stage 0 cancer cells than first expected and they found stage 1 cancer in the tissue that was taken out from the reduction. It was small, .05 mm. It never showed up on my many mammograms that I had leading up to surgery. Dr said it was amazing the radiologist found it. So basically the reduction saved my life. Who really knows when the tumor would have showed up on a mammogram and by then it could have been too late.
Remember who I said gently pushed me to consider a reduction? Bitz. My dear sister-in-law who has been my best friend for over 20 years. (I know how to pick em!!) She is the dearest and most selfless person I know.
When we got the call I was complete devastated. Suckered punched. Terrified. I cried like I have never cried before. The hardest part was telling my 2 beautiful daughters and my parents.
The next day was a brand new start. I was energized, pissed and ready to fight back. We spent the rest of the weekend researching and preparing for the next round of doctor appointments. (I won’t say that we didn’t enjoy a couple of Dude’s homemade frozen strawberry margaritas as well).
Because they don’t know the exact location of the tumor that was found in the tissue removed from the reduction, the recommendation was a single mastectomy. I have decided to have a double mastectomy. Since the tumor wasn’t picked up, I know I will live in fear about my other breast. This decision is a personal one. Every woman’s decision is her own and can’t be judged by someone else.
I’m scheduled for my next surgery the end of August, on our 21st wedding anniversary. I told my doctor I was showing up in my wedding dress. He said he would bring my tiara.
During the double mastectomy surgery, they will also be checking my lymph nodes to make sure the cancer has not spread any further. Many hurdles to clear still but feeling strong.
I have decided not to be private about my breast cancer and my journey. I have learned a lot through Gluten Dude and the community that he is a part of. If one person’s story can help another then we are already Heroes.
Please feel free to follow my journey on Instagram at @goteamdoodles
I want to thank my amazing husband. He has been my rock.
I also want to thank my entire family. I am one lucky lady to have the incredible family that I do.
And I want to thank my New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Hong Kong, Fairfield, Texas, Facebook, and celiac community. You all know who you are! Your love and strength is what’s fueling me.
Now go schedule your mammogram.
This journey to be continued…