Mother’s Day and Breast Cancer
What a difference one year makes…or in my case… a month. We were all gathered for Saturday boot camp about one year ago. My sister Bridget happened to be there that particular day. She was telling us that her future daughter in law’s mother had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. This news led us into a discussion, or perhaps, a confession as to when each of us had our last mammogram. We were all overdue. Agreements were made that appointments would be scheduled ASAP. I was personally overdue by 2 1/2 years. My appointment was scheduled within the week. My daughter Kelley captured those days in a blog post last year. So I will begin with her words below:
Boobs and My Mom
My mom went in for a mammogram a few weeks back where they found an abnormality in one of her breasts and determined she would need to have a biopsy for further testing. She later received a phone call that confirmed she has a form of breast cancer called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS).
That is most obviously the bad news. The good news is that they classified her cancer as Stage 0.
One of the doctors explained it as so: You know those pink ribbons people wear for cancer? Well, you get to be a white ribbon with a little pink dot. But that little pink dot is still cancer, so we need to get it out.
Because the cancer was caught so early the treatment isn’t as defined as it would be had she been diagnosed with a more progressed Stage. Options are almost always a good thing, but they can certainly make things a little more confusing…
Not a decision you can really take lightly.
Options A. and B. danced around our heads for some time, I’m sure most heavily in my mother’s. Google it, I dare you ;) you’ll find resources upon resources on treatment options for DCIS Stage 0. Unfortunately we’ve had some dear friends who’ve already had to deal with DCIS first hand, we appreciate their support, guidance and advice.
My mom has elected to have a lumpectomy. Once a lumpectomy is complete, the tissue is sent off for testing where they determine her chances of recurrence as well as whether or not there is a need for radiation or medication. We like to think of this option as more of a walk, then run outlook.
Enough with the words… Below you’ll find photos of just a few of the things we’ve done since my mom received that dreaded little phone call. I hope you enjoy the photos but more importantly I hope you will join us in prayer for my mom as she goes into this week and becomes cancer free.
A little follow up to that blog.
My lumpectomy surgery went very well. My doctor was able to remove all of the cancer and found that the surrounding tissue was healthy. I was presented with new decisions and options. Not everyone has options. I was grateful to have options. Within the week, I met with my oncologist, a surgeon and a radiologist. Typically, following a lumpectomy you can expect to do radiation and a 5 year regimen of a drug called Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen blocks estrogen receptors in cancer cells. However, I was in a gray area for that treatment due to an early diagnosis. After consulting with my doctors, I opted not to do the radiation or the 5 year Tamoxifen regimen.
I had my 6 month follow up mammogram in December of 2014 and was given the all clear! I will revisit the doctor again this June. Though I am confident that I made the right decision for me about my treatment, that doesn’t mean I am without anxiety about my upcoming mammogram. Cancer is an ugly, scary word. However, I do not let that scary feeling consume me. If you take anything away from my story, I hope that it is the importance of preventative care and the research it takes to being your own advocate.
I immersed myself in the information presented to me by my doctors and made the best decision for me and my family. I also need to plug the health benefits of daily exercise. I know that I recovered much more quickly from my surgery because exercise is a part of my daily life. The benefits of exercise to my mental health was also important. A good lift or cardio workout can keep your mind clear…and if you happen to do that with your girlfriends, there is enough time to process during the workout and over the coffee drinking that follows.
I encourage you to make an appointment if you are overdue for that mammogram. Do it with us…we will all be going in the coming weeks and will report back.
Happy Mother’s Day to all!
To see Kelley’s original blog post and all of the photos, you can click here. Kelley Layne Photography