Monday, March 2, 2015

I'm A Lucky Duck

Every morning when I wake up, I pick up my phone and delete the endless emails from Old Navy and Kohls and Bath and Body Works and all the other messages from stores that browbeat me into giving them my email address at checkout time. I check Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. And I save the best for last.

I check my Time Hop.

Do you have the Time Hop app on your phone? Because you should. Every day, it compiles the posts, tweets, and pictures posted on social media on that date, going back about five years. I see pictures I forgot I had even taken. Posts about fun times with friends or family. Reminders of silly things my preschoolers said or did. Status updates or tweets where I think, "Man, I'm pretty damn funny sometimes!"

This morning, after verifying through Twitter that we did, indeed, have to go to school IN SPITE OF THE ICE AND SNOW ON THE STREETS, my Time Hop included a (I thought) hilarious tweet from a year ago, a couple of pictures from a volleyball tournament two years ago, and the following status update from three years ago:

This was pretty exciting stuff! My son was a junior in high school; my daughter was in 7th grade, and they both qualified for State with their National History Day projects. 

The awards ceremony had ended around 5:00 p.m. My daughter and I left together in my car, heading to Academy Sports to purchase a pair of volleyball shoes. My husband and son went home to change clothes, then play tennis at a park near our home. 

And while Emma and I were at the checkout, paying for her shoes, my cell phone rang, the call coming from the surgeon I had visited earlier in the week about yet another new lump in one of my already lumpy and bumpy fibrocystic breasts with the results of my biopsy.

"You have cancer."

Higher than a kite on opiates,
post-bilateral mastectomy
And that fast, life would never be the same again.

I had a bilateral mastectomy with free tram flap reconstruction.

Being the poster child for early detection was probably the reason I didn't have to have infusion chemotherapy, but I didn't know that until almost three months after the diagnosis and surgery, when all the pathology reports were in.

I began what is projected to be five years of chemo treatment with an aromatase inhibitor (Arimidex), which works to block the enzyme aromatase from turning the hormone androgen into estrogen in post-menopausal women.

I was not post-menopausal; therefore, my ovaries had to be stopped from producing estrogen. This was accomplished with monthly injections of Zoladex, also projected to be for five years. The injections are into my lower abdomen, near my tram flap scar (which is fortunate, as that area is numb anyway), where a capsule about the size of a grain of rice is deposited.

I take copious amounts of calcium, Vitamin E and Vitamin D to counteract the side effects of the Arimidex and Zoladex.

I also take Fosamax once weekly (like an 80 year old, hump backed old woman) because the chemo drugs caused a 13% depletion in my bone density within the first two years of treatments.

And every day, every little ache or pain, every tender spot, every glance in the mirror at the miracle that is my reconstruction, I wonder if it's cancer cells returning. Then I brush the thought away, because that's what Scarlett O'Hara would do. 

I'm not complaining here. I'm just reporting. I know how lucky I am. I've seen friends go through infusion chemo and radiation, and I thank God often and profusely that I did not have to go through that.

Early detection.

I believe in it.

Girls, check your girls. Know your girls. Boys, make sure your girls are checking their girls. And check your own while you're at it. Men are not immune to breast cancer.


  1. YES! Too right.

    And I'm glad you're the poster child. 106 baby! You're gonna be it for a long time yet :)

  2. Yay to you for writing this! I'm gonna go feel 'em up right this very minute.

  3. Replies
    1. I'm always surprised at how many women don't check. CHECK!

  4. I like you more and more every day. :) You are the very best of spokeswomen for booby checks.

  5. The blue chested boobie could be your mascot! You know... along with the duck.

  6. So very thankful for early detection! You are indeed the ideal poster child.

  7. I know I left you a comment! I think I can't comment on my phone. You are the loveliest poster child for boobie checking. I find my boobies...confusing. But I try. I really try.
    I like the blue-footed boobie idea. Definitely.

    1. I have trouble leaving comments with my phone, too. They just disappear into thin air. You are sweet. My boobies were made up of cysts and lumpy places, but I still was able to tell when something "new" popped up. Don't let yours confuse you!
      Who can't use a mascot?