Thursday, April 7, 2011

Catching People Up...

This is the first email I sent out to folks about being diagnosed. For most of you it's old news, but wanted there to be some info if people needed background...

Hi all,

I hate to be sending you news in an email, but it has been a week of texting people, calling, leaving messages, having long conversations and I feel like I have only kind of scratched the surface of all of the folks I want to share news with, so I am writing this in a note knowing that all of you that it's reaching know that you occupy a special place in my heart and friendship circle.

Last Monday I got the results back on a biopsy on a mass in my breast and the pathology came back positive for invasive ductal carcinoma. I know, ****, right? Invasive ductal carcinoma is the most common form of breast cancer and I feel like we're catching things early, so that's good. Nick and I spent the day today at UM Breast Care Center doing more imaging and consulting with a leading breast surgeon in order to determine the next steps. The good news is that there is no evidence that the cancer has spread to my lymph nodes, but there is one more procedure that they need to do before they can be sure of that. The bad news is that the head doctor is recommending that I have a double mastectomy given the type of cancer and my "young" age (fyi, only in cancer is 39 considered "young" any more...I'll take it where I can get it!). She said that if they do not remove all of both breasts the chance of the cancer reoccurring there would be fairly high, so that's where we are heading.
So the time-line right now looks like this. I will have a lymph node biopsy surgery and if there is no cancer in my lymph nodes then I will have the mastectomy and reconstruction surgery (all at once) about 2 weeks after that. Then I will have chemotherapy, and then be done.

If they do find cancer in the lymph nodes then they will do a lymph node removal surgery at the time of the biopsy surgery and then the double mastectomy (without reconstruction). Then I will have chemo and then radiation and then the reconstruction operation after all of that.
Even with all of this, I believe that I am going to get great treatment and be back in play in no time. Between my sweet family, new job and commitment to the Board of David and Ava's school, I have *way* too much good stuff going on to let this slow me down.

For now, Ava and David don't know that anything is up. I think we will work to bring them in as the treatment path unfolds but we'll discuss that when we know more. I'm a little anxious that their understanding of "cancer" is so deeply tied to my mother's death a year ago (next week...seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up) and don't want to scare them more than necessary. So please hold them in a little extra grace when you see/interact them. And same goes for my awesome husband too. He's a trooper, has more on his shoulders than any one person should carry and probably could use a night out for a beer.

I want to say in advance that I am sorry if I don't respond to emails or calls. I am trying to map out what I am doing with work and life at this point, but know that every bit of your love and support means the world to me. Every bit. The depth and strength of the ties that bind me to each of you is remarkable and each of you have touched my heart or the lives of my family in a special way. Thanks in advance for your great energy. While this isn't how I wanted to spend my the eve of my 40th birthday (again...seriously?!), it's the road I'm on and I am going to make the best of it.
If you live in the Ann Arbor area and have any info on the following, I would be really happy to hear it:
1) experience with breast reconstruction at UM or area docs that you would recommend/stories to tell or friends to talk to
2) a good, I mean good reiki practitioner
3) a massage therapist who has worked with breast cancer patients
I am also ok with people knowing, so if you know friends who don't know be confident in sharing the news.

Love to you all, sorry to dump this on you by email,

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