Breast Cancer For Dummies or “Where I Found Help”

For Dummies

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There are few things that will rock a woman’s world more than hearing the words,

“You have breast cancer.”

It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but I was so DUMB about breast cancer before my diagnosis!  Sure, I knew all about the PINK stuff (frankly, the marketing of all merch by anyone and everyone bugs me, but that’s for another post).  I knew about “Susan G. Komen for the Cure”, and the races.  My own grandmother died of breast cancer before I was born, two aunts by marriage had double mastectomies in the 60s/70s and lived to be very old, and I work with a woman who is herself a survivor.  Sadly, she is also a grieving mother, having lost her only daughter – aged 38 – to complications from a battle with Stage IV BC less than two years ago.

So I had some personal exposure, but was pretty ignorant none the less. For example, I had no idea there were so many different types of BC (I won’t list all 14 here, but you can find the list and their symptoms on Breastcancer.org HERE.)  I also wasn’t aware of other impacting factors, like whether or not the cancer expresses through the HER2 gene (like mine), or whether it’s Estrogen and/or Progesterone sensitive (mine was both).

Then there are other things looked for in the biopsies.  Things like cancer grades, lymph node status and the BRCA1 gene we’ve all heard about thanks to Angie Jolie-Pitt. 

Needless to say, up until January of this year, I thought of breast cancer primarily in terms of Stages (o-5, the higher the number the worse the prognosis), lost hair, lost breasts, and – occasionally – lost lives (to the tune of over 40,000 a year, as it turns out.)

Welcome to my crash course in a topic I never EVER thought I would be dealing with!  And school came right at the most inopportune time.  Suddenly, I had to do research when I was shocked, scared out of my mind, and – initially – unwilling to go the traditional “Cut and Burn” approach that the alternative media hypes as being worse than the cancer itself.  When you first find out, the Earth tilts on it’s axis.  You can’t think clearly, or you think too much.  Little monsters start crawling around inside your head and – IF you can sleep – within your dreams.   In my case, there were adult children to be told – and told in such a way to keep the freak out factor as low as possible.  I had to tell my elderly mom, and the rest of my family.  What I needed first was some answers, and quickly.  See, I felt it was my duty…my responsibility…to show them I was CALM about the whole thing.

Because if Mom was calm, everything is going to be OK.  Right?

My search initially took me on all sorts of rabbit trails…some of which I was very grateful for, others not so much.  These were primarily the chat like  “forums” on many of the large sites where the threads were filled with woman after woman posting about their own battles, and the horrible things they were dealing with.

Reading their posts was so heartbreaking and frightening.  After no more than a day or two, I couldn’t deal with it.  I was on IFO at that point (Information Fucking Overload).  I knew, intuitively, that my attitude going into this thing would have everything to do with how I came out of it, and keeping my focus POSITIVE was imperative.  (My surgeon later told me, bless her heart, that the only people who tend to post on those sites are the ones having all the problems – and that I should stay away.)  I did scour the threads looking for ideas for dealing with chemo and radiation, though, and found some good tips that I have been using and will post about later.

All that being said, I wanted to use this first post to point you towards the “RESOURCE” page I created.  Here you will find information that I personally looked into and found extremely helpful.   If you are newly diagnosed, or know someone who is, this page might be a good starting point for them.    It is, by no stretch of the imagination, a comprehensive catalog of all the resources out there for breast cancer patients.  But it does cover a lot of the basics.  You’ll find a tab for the Resource page at the top of my homepage.  A click HERE will take you there right away.

AwenSymbol

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There.  That little piece of business is out-of-the-way. *smile*  I have so much I want to write about.. .things that have been percolating in my mind for months, and for some reason, I didn’t feel compelled to post on The Wild Pomegranate.  No wonder I was feeling blocked!  (Even my own ideas for uncorking myself didn’t working!  And yes, this was written by me under my real name.  )  What I needed was a fresh start, a new focus, a blank slate.  A PURPOSE.  Now that I’ve created it here at GraceUpsideDown, the posts are already lining up in my head like planes on the tarmac at John Wayne!

Isn’t it amazing what happens when we get in alignment with our calling?  Suddenly, Awen shows up, pouring all kinds of creative energy over our heads.  Suddenly, I feel IT, I feel Her…and IT is a great feeling – One I know will carry me through the weeks and months ahead.  A hidden blessing in the storm.

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself,

and know that everything in life has purpose.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences,

All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Without A Fight

Granted, I went into Thursday’s appointment with the General Surgeon with a bit of an attitude.  Not only was I annoyed that I couldn’t go straight to see a specialist as my radiologist and primary care physician said was warranted, but I when I’d looked Dr. G up on-line, I didn’t like what I found.   His ratings in the “trust his decisions” category were below average and I already have a trust issue with doctors.  But my intention was to be polite, go through the process, and get the referrals that I wanted.

Within minutes I knew – without a shadow of a doubt – that I would never let the man touch me, even if a request for a specialist was denied.  Not only were his opinions in direct opposition to those of my other two doctors, but my Bullshit Detector was going off big time.  Here in front of me was a Bottom Liner – they guy the HMOs.  All it took was for him to tell me that the easiest thing was to do a mastectomy, radiate me, and call it a day, and my mind was made up. This, WITHOUT having all my test results!  From a guy who, when I asked, said he had done “some” of these procedures.

Oh hell NO.

Needless to say, he didn’t have a clue who he was dealing with, but I made sure he found out.

By the time I left, both the referral for the MRI and the specialist were to be submitted.  The insurance “gurus” may deny the requests,  and it may take two weeks to hear anything,  but I got what I wanted.  And this morning, I’m actually happy for the delays!

Because while they’re jacking me around in the “Standard of Care” debacle that is today’s health care system, I’m taking matters into my own hands.

Yesterday, for the first time, I started researching on-line.  I have my pathology reports, but I’ve only glanced at them.  I’m not ready to.  But I do know what the general diagnosis is and after a busy week that left me feeling exhausted and emotional, my first steps were tentative.

It started with the thought that joining a support group might be a good idea.  Maybe I should hook up with others that are going through, or who have been through, what I am.  The first place I landed was BreastCancer.org, where I found what looks to be a wealth of information and a very supportive on-line community.  Once there, I began a sequence of point and clicks, and with each new discovery, I found myself feeling a bit braver.  A bit stronger.

It was time to put my Inner Nancy Drew on the case.

Dr. CIt didn’t take long to discover some critically important things.  For instance, DCIS, (Ductile Carcinoma In Situ) in and of itself is NOT a cancer at all, but a “precancer”.  This little factoid wasn’t given much time by my doctors, which upsets me a bit.  However, it turns out that someone I respect –  Dr. Christiane Northrup – has much to say on the topic. I quickly ordered her book, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” and it should be here tomorrow.  My immediate take away? Women die WITH DCIS, not from  it.

From there, I wanted to see if there was any information on healing breast cancer naturally.  There is the issue of the “invasive” variety I have to deal with as well.  It means that the cancer has kicked in and has spread through the mild ducts.  How far, I don’t know.  But I found another book written by a woman who did just that.  Her name is Dr. Véronique Desaulniers, and her book is “Heal Breast Cancer Naturally”.  The fact that the cover has a butterfly on it…well, that made me smile. Dr. V

So now, I know it’s been done, and more than once.  I am at Stage 0, so I figure my chances are looking good.  Really really good.

It was after all of this that I decided to search for a doctor who practiced alternative healing modalities that dealt with cancers, and there – in my Google Search results – I found him.  And right in my neighborhood!  His name is Dr. A. Meschi, and he healed himself of three varieties of cancer!  It wasn’t more than an hour after writing to him to see if he thought I might be a good candidate for his help than he called me.  Not only did he not want to simply pass me off to the front office, he wanted to personally connect with me.   I told him what was going on and from the feedback I received, I already sense this is a man I can trust.  He is someone who will look at my health holistically, and won’t poo-poo my thought that I don’t necessarily have to have pieces of my body cut out or cut off, and then be bombarded with radiation.  In fact, his work has healed someone else with breast cancer and he said that he’s being written up about it!  While he didn’t say surgery won’t still be a possibility, he did say that now – in this waiting period – is the perfect time for him to evaluate me and look at some additional scenarios.

And that’s when the shift happened.

After the sudden, unexpected news of the biopsy results threw me off the rails, I feel steadier.  More hopeful.  Stronger. The appointment is set for Monday at 11:00 and I am cautiously optimistic that I will – at the very minimum – speak with someone who will really listen and offer wise counsel.

My resolve is firm.  This tata will not go down without a fight, and I will use everything within me to help  myself.  No matter what the future holds, I will champion my own cause and make the healthcare decisions that are in MY best interests.  No way will I allow myself to be dictated to and managed by the prevailing wisdom.

Am I scared?  Yeah.  Am I feeling unsure?  Absolutely.  I still have so far to go on this journey, and there are many unanswered questions.  But in all of that, I know that I am not alone.  I am confident that I am being divinely guided on the path of healing best suited for me.  I will not only survive this, but I will thrive.

I am Invictus.

Unconquered.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henly