Angelina Jolie’s recent admission of a double mastectomy due to carrying the BRCA1 gene made me recall my own choice regarding double mastectomy. I vividly recall the surgical path offered to me was the removal of the affected left breast only. It was only after I asked my doctor if my risk of recurrence would be reduced by eliminating both breasts that the idea was even considered. This is simply a plea to all who read this: never agree to any course of treatment until you have explored every avenue and asked every question you have…A good friend once reminded me that physician’s call their work “practice.” But “practice” does not make perfect in this respect.
I was intrigued to read this story about a man that completed a home pregnancy test that showed a positve result…only to later find out that a positive outcome of such a test may very well mean you have testicular cancer…
I remember the day my diagnosis was confirmed like it was just yesterday. The appointment that day was set aside to go over my biopsy results. No exams, no proocedures, just results. Somehow in the back of mind I knew what was coming, and maybe that was why I was able to deal with it so non-chalantely in that moment.
I sat across from the doctor in his office, (not an exam room), and listened to him tell me that we had some work to do in order to get me better. I had stage IIB invasive ductile carcinoma. He showed me what a port looked like, and explained how they would install the device into my body and that would make chemo a lot easier. It all seemed so surreal at the time. And somehow, in front of the doctor, I held it together the whole time I was in that office.
And then I got out of there and called my fiance, and I just lost it. I’m sure it was hardest for me to take, but I’m sure that whatever he was feeling at that time wasn’t too great, either. I didn’t have many days where I felt negative or defeated in any way, but this one that stands out as one my most challenging days. The only day that tested me harder was the day we found out that Amanda had spina bifida.
Why do I tell this part of the story during Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Because surviving cancer is about hope and strength. I do hope someday for a cure, but for those that will follow in the absence of a cure, know this: It is important to allow those that love you to rally around you. Try to remain as positive as possible. Hell, cop an attitude toward your cancer if necessary. And if you lose the battle, let it not be because you didn’t try or hope to overcome it. Never…give…up.
Perhaps this should have been the tagline for the Chemomama blog? This article about Rep. Seth Grove’s wife and her recent induction into “chemomamahood” was a great reminder to me that children are a great distraction while undergoing treatment. Just knowing that kids are relying on you makes it easy forget your own woes and issues with cancer.
And I love, love, love the closing quote of the article. I just might have to get t-shirts made up with that on it someday.
Oh, and please tune into the major networks at 8:00 PM EST on September 7th for the annual Stand Up to Cancer telethon. This great organization supporting collaborative research can use our help. Together, we can advance a cure!
This article really brings to light how lucky we are to live in America, where modern medicine is practiced and advanced at all times. Of course, there’s limited information in the article regarding the type of cancer this woman suffered from, but I can’t help but wonder if her doctors explored every option available. Having only two options, terminate her pregnancy and be treated, or continue the pregnancy and not be treated at all seems incomplete to me. In her country do they even explore the options in between? Are religious beliefs a factor in the decisions she made? I know with blood cancers, it is much more dangerous to continue a pregnancy, and perhaps that’s what she had, but I can’t help but feel sad about the sacrifice she made. Although brave and noble, her child will grow up never knowing her.
So glad to hear that Mattel responded positively to the Facebook campaign to get Bald Barbie made! What a great thing for young children with cancer.
Every survivor consciously or unconciously makes a decision about how involved they want to be in cancer awareness activities once they’re “out of the woods.” I kind of do my own thing quietly, not really engaging in anything official, so stories like this remind me that I should think about being more active. After I quit my full-time job and hire a nanny to care for my three-year-old with spina bifida…