Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Me and My Big Syringe

Blogging, for me has been an experience, to say the least. I've mostly used it as an outlet to share silly stories about my three kids that usually swirl around in my head for days before disintegrating into the atmosphere formally known as my brain. I've used it to summon good thoughts and prayers during difficult times, and I've used it occasionally to delight (I know, this is a stretch) you with my goofy humor.

If there is anything I have learned over the past year and a half of reading blogs, it is that this space is a powerful one. One to be reckoned with.

I have been inclined on more than one occasion to join in a cause, and I have done so. I have learned about lives that I would never had the pleasure of being around in real life. I have been able to navigate the globe and connect with fellow bloggers all over this big world. It amazes me.

One thing I haven't ever done in this space is get up close and personal, except a little as of late, unless it had to do with my children (which is intensely personal for me and at the same time so gratifying to share). I think it's about time, because you all need to hear this, to share a little, if only to encourage you to think, to act, to know, for your sake.

Earlier this year I had to visit the Comprehensive Breast Center, had to have a mammogram (at 33 years-old), had to sit in the little room, and then another little room, and then be counseled by a very nice specialist about the results of my test.

It was nothing.

I left with a hefty prescription for a cream that had to be made just for me and given to me in plastic syringes the size of something you would use on a horse. I am not kidding.

My diagnosis was that I had most likely pulled the muscles in my chest.

When the specialist was describing how this happens, and how women end up feeling like a burning cone of fire is emitting from their chest wall and shooting out their nipples, I remembered something. I remembered trying to wrestle one of the boys bikes from it's ceiling hook before this mysterious pain began.

And it wasn't until then, that I finally relaxed.

I picked up my cream from the pharmacy and went home to slather a bunch of it all over my chest. And I continued to do so until the pain went away, which it did after about 3 weeks.

I cannot pretend or even permit myself to believe that I know what it's like to have breast cancer. I can only say that I know how it feels to think you may have it, and to run all the possible scenarios through your head until you think it may fall right off your shoulders. It is damn scary. Waiting to find out is scary.

Finding out that you have inflammatory breast cancer has to be scary, and one woman, one mother, one wife - she, of ToddlerPlanet - is fighting that fight. She has encouraged and allowed any blogger who wants, to lift the following from her site in order to educate as many people as possible about this aggressive form of breast cancer. Please read and share and go over there and cheer her on. And please, like she says in her post below, see your doctor if anything seems different about your breasts.

Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Monday July 23rd 2007, 3:11 pm

Filed under: About Us / Favorites, breast cancer

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.


Slackermommy said...

I hate cancer. I want to kick it's ass. I've been surrounded by so much of it lately and some days I struggle to cope. Thank you so much for your support.

"let the sad out to make room for the happy" I love this and will use it.

alice c said...

Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog and thank you for sharing your personal experience of a cancer scare. It is not easy to be open about such private matters but it always makes an impact, always makes other people assess their own health and maybe will make a difference to somebody. We have so much to live for that we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves.

Back soon!

jen said...

i hate cancer too. and you are right about the power in this place. we can all use more of it to kick cancer and other bad things in the ass.

dottycookie said...

Holey moley, that makes very sobering reading. Thank you for posting it.

Rachel said...

Scary, isn't it?

Nice to read your blog again. :)

Whymommy said...

Thank you. Thank you for passing this along. It is incredibly scary to think you have it, or to have it. It's a very nasty disease, and I thank you for letting other women know about it, just in case.

Mamacita Tina said...

About five years ago, the doctor detected a lump. I went in for the mammogram, nothing there. I was lucky. A friend of mine just underwent the same thing. Lucky also. My heart goes out to those facing cancer. We all need to remember to take care of ourselves and have regular checkups.