It’s been one of those days.
Last week, I had my 6th biopsy. I actually blogged (read: bitched) about it in a previous post. CNN version: when I went in for my routine mammogram, which turned into four separate boob squishes and an ultrasound, a spot showed up in my left boob – the one that had already developed two tumors (surgically removed) and had been irradiated. It was likely nothing, but since it was in the cancer boob, we went ahead and biopsied it.
It wasn’t nothing.
Bad grammar aside, once again (and near what was supposed to be my 2 year cancerversary), I got the call we all dread. It’s cancer. 6 mm invasive ductal carcinoma, ER+/PR+ (probably) HER2-, in the same breast that had been irradiated, and in the same body that’s been on estrogen blockers for nearly 2 years.
Once again, I’m numb, angry, scared, and filled with uncertainty. Invasive. How far has it spread? I should get a PET scan – what if it has metastasized? I’ll likely have a mastectomy at this point, one or both breasts, but what else? Will I need chemo? More radiation? A new drug cocktail?
Will I be alive next year? In two years? The statistics say yes, but what about five to ten years down the road?
Once again, I had to call family and friends with bad news, had to fall apart in my husband’s arms, had to tell my daughter. I still have to tell my son. I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve let them down. Should I have toughed it out with the aromatase inhibitors that made me so sore and achy that I could barely get out of my car, out of a chair, out of bed? Should I have gone for chemo in spite of my Oncotype DX results? Should I have just lopped off both breasts to begin with?
Rationally and objectively, no, I didn’t fail. Cancer is insidious, sly, and unpredictable. No one has a crystal ball. Based on the information we had at the time, breast conserving surgery made sense. I stand by that decision. I stand by my Oncotype DX results and decision to forgo chemo and opt for medically induced menopause and tamoxifen – because in order to live life, I needed to be able to get out of my car, out of chairs, and out of bed.
Here’s what I know: My odds are still good for survival. Losing one or both breasts is going to be painful, heartbreaking, and sad, but those are the cards I’ve been dealt and I will play them. I’ve been through this before, and years from now, I may go through it again, but I’m here now. I want to live. I want to watch my children grow and be there for them as they transition from incredible teens into amazing adults. I don’t want to miss a minute. I want more long days and loving nights with my husband. I want to laugh, travel, work, play, and not let cancer rob me of my life.
I don’t know how to get there yet, but I will get there. I will face what’s to come and I will keep fighting in the lab, as an advocate, and as a survivor. Cancer will not defeat my spirit. It will not rob me of joy for however long I may yet live. Strong, weak, confident, scared, sure, uncertain, and everything in between, I will face this.