Pink Ribbon and Me

Almost one year ago to the day, I finished my Radiation treatments for Breast Cancer.

I am 1 in 8 women who will get a Breast Cancer diagnosis!

This is the month frocked with pink ribbons to remind all of us it is real, active and can happen to you or someone you know/love.

Let me first strongly encourage ALL women to stay up to date with their mammogram screenings!! I cannot stress that enough! I know it’s terrible, stress ridden, painful and the last thing any of us want to do on ANY. DAY.… but make yourself, for yourself!! It is one of the best things you can do for your health!

Breast cancer is so abundant and standard screenings are the first line of defense. There is not much else you can do to prevent it or diagnosis it.

I was a pretty ardent annual mammogramer. I’ve been told since my first mammogram that I have dense tissue, which makes the mammogram hurt more and everything harder to see. Believe me, I loathed them and had to give myself a pep talk leading up to the appointment. I’d make the appointment and would not let myself cancel or move it. It is so easy to do when it’s so uncomfortable; I understand!

My sister was diagnosed in her mid-forties and had advanced stages before they found it. I watched her trudge through surgery and chemo valiantly. I knew even though we had NO family history, and she tested negative for the genetic gene, it could happen to me! But, I doubted it. All the markers and indicators made it a long shot.

What I didn’t know was that 1 in 8 get diagnosed (I am sure that number was lower when she was diagnosed.) Even if it wasn’t coming through genetics didn’t mean it wouldn’t come to me.

It showed up on my mammogram as a small spot. The doctor felt it was benign, but could be a cell that eventually turns to cancer, so I went for a biopsy. Shocking to all of us, it came back with cancer cells in it. In 17 slides of tissue, only 4 slides showed cancer cells, but what they said could happen, had. Some cells had turned cancerous.

In retrospect, what if all the slides had shown benign cells? I would have waited a whole year before checking again and who knows how many cells would have been cancerous by then!

Testing, screenings, biopsy’s benefit us!
Early detection is key to successful treatment!

So, even though you loathe them, and you have my unyielding permission to loathe mammograms, they are your friend. Early detection can keep you from more pain and drastic measures in the future!! Truly!! “Friend” might be a strong word, but they look out for you and what is going on inside your “ladies”. There is no other way to know until a lump appears, which will put you in a much more dire situation.

I give you permission to plan something fun to do after your annual mammogram: go out to lunch, get a mani/pedi, meet up with a friend, go shopping, etc. Treat yourself for taking care of your health. Then the mammogram will only be a small part of your day, not a whole day of dread! It helps me get through!

My Update:

I am one year past lumpectomy and radiation AND one year down on my five-year medication. My cancer fed on estrogen, so I take an estrogen blocker to prevent any cells that may remain, (even though my edges were clear) can’t grow. It’s preventative.

There are side effects from the medication, of course. I’ve experienced two main ones: hot flashes and sleep disturbance. Neither of them are horrible. My hot flashes come maybe a few times a week, but aren’t terribly dramatic. I just peel off a sheet or layer of clothing for a while. On occasion, they wake me in full sweat, but not too often. Sleep disturbance is worse for me. I go to sleep normally and wake maybe one or two hours later. This is very abnormal for me! I roll around like sagebrush on a windy prairie. Tossing and turning, trying to lull myself back to sleep. Sometimes it’s for a few hours, sometimes till morning. Fortunately, it’s not every night… maybe once or twice a week and some weeks sleep wins. When I need to, I nap. It could be so much worse… it’s livable!

I have had my annual mammogram post-surgery already! I now have to have diagnostic mammograms. Six months after surgery, I was still having a lot of uncomfortableness, so I thought the mammogram would be terrible. Honestly, it wasn’t any worse! I can’t explain that, but it wasn’t. And everything checked out fine!

Some friends have told me since having breast cancer that mammograms cause so much anxiety for them. “What if they find it again?” They find it very hard to get themselves there even though they know they need to! That is so understandable! I totally empathize with you!

In my experience, finding it early is a good thing… it’s what you want, even though it’s hard to think about.

Then they can take care of it! If they don’t find it, that’s when it all gets multiplied in complexity and difficulty.

I still get a twinge at my surgical sight every once in a while or when pressing something too hard against my chest.

My major life change has been: I no longer sleep on my stomach! I used to start every night on my stomach and to me it was the most comfortable relaxing position! I loved it! It just doesn’t feel right still. Maybe, time will change that, but for now, I’ve learned to go to sleep on my side. It’s weird how things like that can change. Believe me, post-surgery, there was no way I was sleeping on my stomach. Even though the doctor cleared me long ago to sleep on my stomach, it still doesn’t feel right.

I would say, if that is all I gave up on this journey, plus some tissue, time, sweat, and sleep, I have nothing to complain about or fret over!!

If you are interested in reading more about my specific journey, you can, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

If any of you are facing, did face, or have an upcoming test regarding breast cancer and would like me to specifically pray for you, it would be my privilege!
Just write Me or Me Too in the comments and I will do it!!!

Please… Schedule your Annual Mammogram this week or encourage your wife, mother, sister, child or friend to!!!

Even if it’s months from now!!

Tend to your “Girls” and health,

5 thoughts on “Pink Ribbon and Me

  1. Just had my mammogram — all good! I do have a family history of breast cancer, so have been having yearlies since age 35. Hang in there, girl.

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