Breast Cancer

My diagnosis – – finally has a name.

Today, April 8h 2008, 7 and a half years after I first met my oncologist, 6 years after she saved me from my long battle from a stage 3B cancer my doctor told me my cancer had a name.

When I was diagnosed in 2000 the doctors staged it but the pathology was not clear. The report said carcinoma of an unknown source most likely Breast, Lung, or Kidney. The pet scans, MRIs, and other tests did not reveal a tumor in my any of those locations. I “only” had cancer in my lymph nods but did not have lymphoma.

During my illness I could not identify myself with any one group of cancer patients. I was an unknown. There was no ribbon or plastic bracelet for me.   But today – – all these years later my doctor told me she feels comfortable saying I had breast cancer. I ask if she is sure.

“Yes, if it weren’t you wouldn’t be alive now.”

WHOA!! That hit me like a ton of bricks and for the first time in years I broke down, my eyes welled up. My voiced  even cracked.

At one point during my long illness a doctor accused me of not taking my cancer seriously. She thought I was “too smiley face.”  I tried to be light hearted, to have a good attitude, to be positive and trust in my doctor and the universe. Crying was something I did in the fall of 2002, when I returned to work, months after I had made it through.   Now years later, I talk to women every day who are beginning their struggle but I found myself in my oncologist’s office crying.

 “Wow! I am a breast cancer survivor.”

It did not feel like it fit.

I have both breasts, there was no tumor in either of my breasts. I just did not feel any connection to breast cancer. My dear mom died of pancreatic cancer years and years ago – not of breast.

Breast Cancer people are like a family. They are an army of warriors. United by their commonality and commitment to fight for research funding, testing, drugs, and awareness. I was an outsider waging my own private battle.  It seems that all the breast cancer patients, survivors and survivor’s families are all so supportive of each other. So, I do not know why I am having a hard time accepting this label. It should feel like coming in from the cold.

My first cousin just got diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Stage 0-1. My oncologist wants me to have genetic testing and to start a drug called Femara.  Joint pain is one of the side effects. Flash backs from chemo, when my whole body hurt so bad that lying down was painful, enter my mind.

Breast Cancer, hum. I am not sure what to make of that yet.