What an intense time!
I found a lump on my breast on my birthday--October 31. A fun Halloween party ended with this nice birthday present.
I hadn't had a mammogram in 13 years and know this was risky but the last two I had they called me back and it turned out to be nothing...shadows, etc. But it freaked me out so much I couldn't do it again.
Anyway, here's a lump. Had a mammogram last week and biopsy Monday and here it is Wednesday and I learned from my doctor it's IDC. I think he said no estrogen or--is it progesterone?--anyway, no receptors for either. The lingo is still new to me....
Here's the thing for me.
I'm 72. I have no one dependent on me but my lovely cat, Pantaloon.
I was hoping this would be DCIS and that a lumpectomy and some radiation would do the trick.
But now I think--I see oncology doc Tuesday--it's gonna be more--more than lumpectomy and radiation--more like extensive surgery and radiation and chemo and hormonal also.
I absolutely hate the idea of chemo--there is nothing worse to me than nausea and vomiting. Nothing. Give me aches and pains, strains, cuts, stomach aches, headaches, toothaches, severe stiff neck, groin strain--I can take them in triplicate. But the nausea I suffered after sinus surgery and general anesthesia was the worst I think I've ever known. I literally could not move an inch I was so ill--like the worst food poisoning in the world.
So this evening I've been going over and over things.
And a part of me wants to do---nothing.
To let nature do her thing. Yes, I know this means growth, spread, and death--but that's going to happen anyway.
I look at the tests, the surgery, the meds, the appointments, the destructive reality of radiation, the chemo that's going to shoot my entire body into a (poorly) defensive posture, the floppy old magazines on waiting room tables....
I think of the anxiety, the bland food (which sinus issues can lead to--no sense of smell=no sense of taste=no fun), the hair loss, the irritation, the low moods, the no-energy (but, perhaps, no good rest, either) and that handmaiden to any illness, that infernal guest: patient, inevitable depression.
All that trying for something, battling for something, but living on the knife-edge of Not Knowing If It's Gonna Come Back.
I like the idea of having some control over what's happening--knowing that it's my choice that's leading to my decline and end.
I decided not to have those mammograms, and had 13 years free of that anxiety.
There are worse things than death, and living in the purgatory-like limbo world of Will These Treatments Work That I AM Suffering Through? to me would be--hell. I've lost loved ones and dear friends to cancer over the years--and followed their courses of treatment...
Do I want to go through all that to gain, perhaps, a two-year extension to my life? Or do I want to just accept that--OK--I have a fatal disease?
I paced my living room after speaking with my doctor and thought:
"What if I just look at this as an incurable disease that I will learn to accept and deal with day to day? I've lived a good life and today am energetic and otherwise in good shape. Do I really want to battle at this point? Maybe I'll do better if I treat this diagnosis as if it were no different from ALS, MSA, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's? Maybe I'll find more peace by accepting cancer than from engaging in a war with it?"
I realize that this runs counter to the prevailing thinking, and know that the oncologist is gonna frown at me next week when I discuss this idea with him (if I get up the nerve). I know that there are thousands of sites discussing breast cancer and all that surrounds its treatment and diagnosis, and these are great. But few sites extoll the good that can arise from acceptance.
I want to enjoy the time I have left. To be the one to--let it be. To know that I am turning myself over to nature herself.
(Of course I would undoubtedly be seeing this differently were I younger and my heart and prayers go out to the fighters and the survivors of all ages.)
Who knows what gave me--us--this? They still haven't pinned down what cause the thousands of cancer types that exist. If there were proof-positive treatments--like drilling out decay from a tooth and filling it with a replacement will take care of a cavity--that didn't essentially poison the body in the process that would be a whole different matter entirely. Cancer is so manifold and mysterious a malady they can never promise a cure. Not yet, anyway.
Thanks for being here and letting me run my thoughts by an audience of the interested tonight! Glad I found this site to air them!
I still don't know what I'm gonna do and wonder if these racing thoughts are due to shock and fear. I may turn 180 degrees onto the other side. But for now they give me a sense of peace and calm that I haven't felt since--I felt the lump.
I wish the very best for all of you and would welcome any thoughts or comments you'd like to offer.
10/31/2015, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
12/14/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Prophylactic mastectomy: Right
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