I was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after my fiftieth birthday on March 18, 2011. A little over a month later, I underwent a mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction — a procedure that ended up taking twelve hours — and in June began a three month course of chemo. By the end of August that year, I was considered clear, at least for now. I say “for now” not because there have been any indications the disease will return but because once you’ve had cancer, you can never quite believe it’s gone for good.
My cancer was one of the more common types (ductal with one lymph node engaged), and we caught it relatively early. This allowed me to have some options for my course of treatment. Lumpectomy or mastectomy? I chose mastectomy because I hoped to avoid the radiation necessary to shrink my tumor enough to have a lumpectomy. Adjuvant chemo or no chemo? I probably could have chosen no chemo, (though I doubt my doctors would have approved) but I wanted to stack the odds in my favor against future recurrence. Ditto for the five years of Anastrozole.
Since I was healthy and — according to my doctors — young (ha!) and fit (double ha!), I handled treatment well. I think that’s also partly because I expected it to be much worse.
Don’t get me wrong. Surgery followed by chemo is no walk in the park, but as long as I wasn’t puking my guts out, I could deal with it.
During my treatment, I began writing “Cancer Lesson” posts on my “Reading, Writing, Ranting and Raving” blog (http://kymlucas.me). I also posted a lot about the experience on Facebook. With encouragement from family and friends, I decided I would somehow pull these posts together into a book.
My first try was abysmal. It sounds strange but I wasn’t sure how the book would end. I didn’t have enough distance from the experience to be able to provide a satisfactory conclusion. Now, two years later, I believe I can.
This blog is based in part on those earlier RWRR posts, along with some additional material. However, since I plan to use these lessons in a book, I will not be keeping more than ten to twenty posts online at any given time.
Thank you for taking the time to read Keeping A-Breast: Cancer Lessons. I hope you will share this blog (and eventually the book) with anyone you believe might benefit from its lessons.