. . My Own Story -- The Long Journey Back to Normal

I was diagnosed with DCIS breast cancer at 49, during a routine mammogram. After a large lumpectomy, we found that the area was bigger than previously thought, and the pathology report showed that my cancer was the nastiest kind -- '9' on the Bloom-Richardson scale of 1-9-- the highest possible rank for aggressiveness and likelihood of recurrence. Lucky me. So, although DCIS is usually treated with a simple lumpectomy followed by radiation, it was recommended that I have a mastectomy to keep the chance of recurrence low. So in December 2008, I had a left mastectomy and reconstruction. Some say that this procedure is one of the most grueling and painful to go through, and I would have to agree--this was by far the the hardest thing I've been through. But I am so grateful that we live in a day when we don't have to die of breast cancer if it's caught early.

I'm fortunate to have a quizzical mind, and through it all, I stayed very near the web. I love having information of all kinds just a keyboard away. I spent about two months searching the web for information -- the best doctors, the latest techniques, the latest breast cancer advances, as much as I could find -- it was painstaking work ferreting out all this information, which was all over the place. As I went, I bookmarked anything that looked interesting. I realized lately that having this information all in one place could be a tremendous help to others, so I am compiling it here for you! I also plan to continue to seek out the latest, and pass it along when I have it. It is likely that you're here because you or a loved one are also battling breast cancer. If so, know that you have a comrade-in arms. Over time there will be a lot of information gathered here, so please take a look at the archives, as well, and poke into all the corners.

See the archive below to navigate through the posts.

Welcome, and I hope you will find some answers here.

Monday, April 19

Get That Mammogram!

Lesson #1 that I learned in my experience was not to put off my mammogram. Never again. Why? Well, I got the notification for my annual mammogram in April 2007. By April 2008, I had looked at that piece of paper at least 365 times, and put off calling -- I will never understand why. Finally, I pulled it out of my 'In' box and just picked up the phone. So easy. The tragedy for me was that it was during that period of time that cancer quietly grew in my breast, getting large enough to force me to decide between a lumpectomy (which would have left my breast and all feeling and function intact) and a mastectomy, which was 10 times more difficult, painful, and  expensive, and left me with a 22-inch long scar across my belly and a rather strange looking breast that is completely numb, with no nipple.

Which would you rather have?

And don't think that you will just find the lump when you or your doctor do a breast exam. The kind of cancer that I had, and that many, many women have (Ductal Carcinoma In Situ), will never be felt during a manual breast exam until it is far more advanced.

Call and make that appointment now.

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