Saturday, March 03, 2007

Public Service Announcement

This is something I would normally post on my beauty site Hello Dollface, but since that site is down due to Blogger thinking I'm a spam robot, I am posting it here. It's a public service announcement of sorts. It's also more information about myself than you care to know, probably. You come here to read about books and authors but well, aren't you in for a treat?
Last October I found a breast lump, coincidentally October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Everywhere I looked whether it was in a magazine or on TV, there was information about Breast Cancer. It was in my face. I couldn't ignore it. Boobs everywhere. How ironic, the timing. When I felt that pea sized lump, of course I freaked out and immediately diagnosed myself with breast cancer. I was insane with thoughts of my children growing up without a mother and my husband would remarry and in time everyone would forget about me. I haven't even had my chance to make a mark on the world! I have books to write and movies based on those books have yet to be made! I must walk down the Red Carpet in a designer gown just once. Most importantly, there are people in this world I want to help, needy people or downtrodden or depressed or displaced people that I haven't had the chance to help. I have much to do!

I went to the doctor's office and yes, they felt the lump and sent me for a mammogram and an ultra-sound. I sat in a paper smock for about an hour, an hour of which I sat paging through old Woman's Day magazines from 2005, trying to be calm and not plan my funeral. During the whole time I was sitting in a waiting area, I didn't realize you could see my chest through the enormous arm holes of the smock.

Finally I had the mammogram and the ultrasound and the tech said, "This looks fine, doesn't look like cancer." Whew! That was all I needed to hear. I probably called for my official results, maybe I didn't. I can't remember. All I know is that cancerous cysts have certain characteristics and my lump didn't have them.

My mother and husband urged me to follow up and get a biopsy. Breast cancer runs like wildfire through my mom's side of the family. Red flag! Everyone has had it. I had joked before that I felt like a time bomb- it was only a matter of time before I got breast cancer. It was ticking inside me.

The lump never went away but I had stopped touching and obsessing about it. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I went in for my yearly physical- I say yearly but it had been so many years I don't remember my last one- and the doctor said, "You need to get this biopsied ASAP. Don't waste time!" So of course, I blew it off. Call it denial or laziness- take your pick.

The doctor followed up on something else and asked if I had made the appointment. "No, but I will soon." I promised. She was pretty stern and said I should do it NOW. I called the surgeons office, still thinking in the back of my mind that it was a waste of time and a waste of my thirty dollar co-pay, you know? I could be doing so many other more valuable things with my time rather than be poked and prodded by a surgeons cold hands.

The surgeon didn't want to ignore this bump, lump, thing. Oh and he wasn't a McDreamy or a McSteamy. I was scheduled to go in to the hospital for an ultra-sound guided needle biopsy. A week later, there I was, laying on a gurney with a radiologist on one side of me, a guy working the ultrasound machine who looked like he was better suited to construction work, a girl who looked about thirteen years old- candy striper?- ( I think she was writing "I heart The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" in her notebook) and another technician. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon, I tell you. My boob exposed in this room of strangers. When the construction/ultrasound guy asked if I was cold, my reply was, "Can't you tell?" Hello Headlights!

There was a probe that was inserted into where the lump was. I couldn't look. You tell me "probe" and I'm thinking a light saber sized thing. After a while of taking tissue samples, the radiologist proclaimed, "Oh yeah....this part here, this part looks suspicious." Hello! What? No. How could I not think the worst with that? Still, I kept reminding myself that I'm young, healthy, strong. I simply don't have time to have cancer.

Yesterday I went back to the surgeon's office for the results. I braced myself. In the waiting room I looked through old tattered issues of Money magazine and Better Homes and Gardens from Christmas 2006. I tried to be calm. My mother, husband, friends offered to go with me but I thought if I went alone, it would have to be good news and if I brought someone it would be as if I prepared to hear bad news.

The surgeon got right to the point, flipped through my chart and said, "We found some atypical cells in the tissue and we need to go back in and get the rest of it. Then we will know for sure if it's malignant."

There's a chance that my body has betrayed me? There's a chance I'm walking around this minute with cancer? Or not. Here is a moment when I need to reach down and find every ounce of positive energy I have and will myself to be all right.

I thought I would share this with you for a few reasons. One is that I've not been on the ball about updating this site or Hello Dollface. My computer has also been down so I don't have access to my notes and photos. That's been a bummer. Most importantly, you are a woman or you know a woman. So either you have a set of breasts or you know someone who does.

I'm posting this personal stuff is so you can tell the women in your life to do a breast exam and if there is anything found, even a teeny bump, get it checked. The mammogram is not a big deal. I mean, sure your boob is squished between plates of glass until it looks flatter than a tortilla. It's not what I would call fun. But it's better than let's say, finding a mouse in your house. Or having someone throw up on you. It's also better than having a bad headache or having the flu. I put it somewhere between doing laundry or cleaning up a mess in the kitchen. Not fun but not a huge deal. Over quickly. If I did it than you can too. And if this is happening to me, a typical everywoman - a mother, wife, daughter, friend- then it can happen to you too. I mean, I sure hope it doesnt, but it could.

I sure need the time to relax and drink white wine and consume unlimited mojitos. I need to eat a lot, especially cookies. Read books. Take very long, very hot showers. Take photographs of cool sights. Forget that I have to have surgery on my breast and it's not even for something cool or fun like breast implants.

Take care of yourselves and read lots of books. I will be back soon. Read my book while I'm taking time off, why don't you?


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Blogger Manic Mom said...
Hey, this is a wake-up call to each and every one of us. I am sitting here kind of thinking, "Wow, I don't want this to be happening to you."

What you wrote was very poignant and straightforward and I hope and pray that you'll be alright.

Email me if you wanna chat. You must be going through an extremely rough time. xo @ 11:41 AM  
Blogger Allison Winn Scotch said...
Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry to hear this. Warm thoughts and hugs are coming your way. As you know, I have some experience with BC via my dear friend, so if you need to chat, I'm here.
Hang in there.
Allison @ 8:07 PM  
Anonymous Vanessa Madriaga said...
Hi, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your page and all the info. I have even picked up some of the books you have featured and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Wanted you to know that I'll be thinking about you and sending out positive vibes for you. You will be okay!! @ 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Best of luck to you. My mom was diagnosed in October with stage 2 breast, she had the one breast removed and is finishing up her montly chemo sessions soon. The cancer is gone, and she is now going from patient to survivor. I went to my OB/GYN in October and got a script to get a Mammogram, I haven't gone yet. I'm 31, and just scared to death. I do the monthy exams and don't feel anything out of the oridinary but now that I have a family history it must be done. This post has given me the strength to pick up the phone call the imaging place and just get the damn thing done.

Enjoy your hiatus and I'll be looking for your return. @ 10:08 AM  
Blogger Swishy said...
The least they could do was give you a McDreamy/McSteamy! I'm glad you went in and thank you for bringing it to our attention. I hope everything goes well. Please let us know. @ 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Your post was great timing. I'm a blogger but have not written about my ordeal yet on my blog...hence the anonymous comment. I haven't told my family of the testing I am going through, just my husband and a few close friends know.

I have an ultrasound guided breast biopsy next Tuesday. I found a small lump in my breast in December. It has since "disappeared" but I've had several ultrasounds, a mammogram and an MRI last week.

It is so incredibly stressful. The WAITING. Ugh.

I hope and pray that you are just fine! Hugs! @ 5:07 PM  
Anonymous Shannon said...
I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. My mom found a lump almost a year ago and they told her it was nothing. Well, a year later she was still uncomfortable with it and had it biopsied and it was cancer. A year later she is a survivor. It's ironic because I used your site a lot to get through my mom's ordeal, to find books to read to get my mind off things. I hope and pray everything is okay. Thanks for all you do. @ 8:09 AM  
Blogger Chic Mommy said...
gosh, so sorry to hear about this. I hope everything turns out okay. @ 11:42 PM  
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