Information Overload

I am kind of on cancer overload from the past few days. Friday was my post op, which went great (see previous post – cancer freeeee!) On Saturday, I attended a Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Issues conference with an amazing guest speaker who is a stage 3 survivor while at the same time was the Head of the Breast Cancer Pathology Department at her hospital. It was very encouraging to be around hundreds on women who have had some similar experiences. I am still very new on my journey compared to most, but it was so encouraging to hear their stories.

Last night, I attended a Young Survivor’s meeting which my nurse navigator recommended (and she is also a survivor and attends the meeting). About 30 women, ranging from late 20’s to early 40’s were there. Everyone told their story or gave updates on their treatment. I am very lucky to already have many amazing, strong and brave women in my life, but the women is this group exhibited courage, hope, humor and compassion on a new level.

Yes, I have breast cancer and it SUCKS, but I do feel very lucky that it was caught SO early and it is so amenable to treatment. As I sat in the room and looked around at the women in various stages of treatment: radiation, chemo, post mastectomy, reconstruction, “flat and fabulous” – those with mastectomies but chose to forgo reconstruction, those 2 or 3 years out and finally those who have graduated and are done with their hormone therapies, I know my journey to date and for the immediate future is easier that most.

The group helps distribute information, organizes retreats, provides support, sets up play groups for those with young kids, nights out for the single ladies and shares stories. At the end of the meeting, a number of women had a show and tell of their “new breasts.” While it may sound odd, it is incredibly helpful to those who may be going through it or may be soon, to see what the new ones really look like. A few of them even had beautiful tattoos of flowers, lace, etc. across their new breasts to help detract from the scars. Apparently, that is a big thing in Portland and there is a female tattoo artist who specializes in it.

I am now a member of a club that I never asked to join, but it could be a lot worse.

Finally, today, Nate and I met with my medical oncologist who will be in charge of my overall care going forward. He is incredibly calm and reassuring. There was a lot of info that we discussed, but the most exciting thing for me was the confirmation of NO CHEMO!! We had that suspicion, but he is the final say. Woohoo. I witnessed my grandmother in her fight with chemo and it honestly scared me more than anything. We also discussed hormone therapy which would be tamoxifen if I choose to take it. Again, another choice. Both Nate and I feel that we want to be proactive, so after I finish my radiation treatments (I find out more on that on Thursday), I will go back in and meet with my oncologist to discuss timing of the tamoxifen. He stressed that he will work with me on the side effects that arise and how to manage them, if I need breaks or even if I want to stop prior to 5 years. I will have appointments with him every 4 months or so and regular mammograms.

Whew. See, cancer overload. I have decided that I am taking Tuesday and Wednesday off from cancer.

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