Cancer

Well, as you can tell from the title of my latest post, I got some bad news. It started with an abnormality spotted on my 3D mammogram in July. (I got the call the first day of my vacation…naturally.) This was followed by a sonogram and a biopsy the following week (which hurt a helluva lot more than they told me it would), and four days later, I received a diagnoses of Stage IA breast cancer. I have a small tumor that has broken through a duct wall but, luckily, has been deemed non-aggressive. A lymph node nearby looked suspicious (thickened), so the radiologist biopsied it as well, but it came back negative.

This has been a bit overwhelming to say the least. We never had any cancer in my family, that I knew of, until my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer last year…not my mom, grandmothers, aunts, or three other sisters. Now I’ve been diagnosed as well.

I got the call on August 4th with the diagnosis, but I haven’t felt like writing about it yet. I’ve been vacillating between shock, anger, sadness, and acceptance. I’ve had two bouts of crying myself to sleep and a whole lot of praying to God, words that typically go like this: “God, was Lupus and Dermatomyositis not enough?” I had accepted in the last couple of years that sometimes $#!^ happens, and it’s not punishment. Our bodies aren’t perfect and they break down with age. Unfortunately, I’m having trouble accepting that right now. I knew my immune system was messed up and have known that for many years, and I knew that having Dermatomyositis increased the chance for cancer, but I never expected this. I feel like I’m being kicked while I’m down.

I called my Rheumatologist almost immediately and found out that  I have to get off he Cyclosporine, which I started taking a couple of months ago. It was starting to help me feel somewhat normal again, but now I can’t even take that anymore…at least not until I’m healed from my surgeries. I get to stay on Prednisone and Plaquenil, but the Prednisone may affect the healing from the surgery and reconstruction. It’s a low dose (5 mg), so we’re hoping it won’t. I’m not a candidate for lumpectomy and radiation because radiation is not advised for people with connective tissue disease. Apparently, it causes significant fibrosis (tissue scarring), resulting in contracture which looks bad and is very uncomfortable. Consequently, I’m going to have a double mastectomy on September 12th. I opted for the double because I don’t want to possibly go through this again later which is certainly a possibility since I’m relatively young, have a sister who had cancer, and I have Dermatomyositis.

I’ve met with the breast surgeon and the plastic surgeon and will meet with an oncologist soon after the surgery. I’m so overwhelmed by all the appointments, and I know this is just the beginning. Please pray for me as I go through this. I’m not so much afraid of dying (I’ve been dealing with that very real possibility of dying young since I was diagnosed with Lupus at 23), and my faith is very strong. What I DO fear is pain!

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