I just had a pretty good scare, but was fortunate to have it caught at stage one. I'm going to be just fine. Just a minor out-patient surgery was required; no radiation or chemotherapy. I'm grateful, but it's still quite traumatic.
So, as you can imagine, I have been pestering friends and family to get their physicals and do their self-exams. My grandmother, who is very sick with congestive heart failure and diabetes, confessed to me that she had not examined her breasts in probably ten years. TEN YEARS! She's 86 and sees the doctor every three months due to her other health issues and she has just assumed that her doctor is checking for these things. I strongly believe this is something everyone MUST take charge of themselves and I insisted she give herself a thorough self exam.
She found a lump.
She called her doctor and her doctor scheduled an X-ray and biopsy immediately. Yesterday we got the news that it's actually a mass the size of a grapefruit and it is definitely malignant. It has not spread to the lymph nodes yet, which means it can basically be removed with surgery. They want to take the whole breast.
The problem is, her cardiologist does not believe she can survive the surgery. She requires blood thinners and even a few days without them could cause her to suffer a stroke or heart attack. She can't have the surgery while on the blood thinners because she will bleed to death. According to her doctors, the only option is to undergo radiation therapy by itself, which might destroy the cancer, but might not.
She is going to get a second opinion, of course.
We're in the process of moving her up to Ohio to live with me. She was planning on moving here in the fall, but obviously it has to happen right now. Her treatment must start immediately, and is going to be intensive and debilitating. It is going to take a network of family to take care of her, something she does not currently have in NC. Here, my mother is already living with me (I know I complain about this and she gets on my nerves, but I love her a bunch. She's my mom!) and my oldest son Kyle has agreed to cancel his plans to live on campus come fall and continue living with me to help take care of her. My sister Pamela, her husband and extended family are all here as well. We're all committed to getting her through this.
I hate dwelling on the 'what if' and 'if only she would have blah blah blah', but in this case it could save a life. The fact is that if she had of been examining herself monthly, she would have felt this lump a long time ago and would have been in good enough health at the time to have the surgery, which at that point probably would have been a lumpectomy instead of a full mastectomy. My cancer was caught early because I stay on top of my self-examinations and suck it up and get my pap smears (which I HATE!) annually.
Please, all of you, it's worth taking the 15 minutes a month to check yourself. Check your body for unusual marks, your breasts and armpits for lumps (even if you're a man), familiarize yourself with your vulva and vagina or check your testicles. Every month. There are so many good videos on YouTube that show you how. Keep notes and tell your doctor if you find anything unusual at all, no matter how small. Get your annual physicals. If you don't have insurance and think you can't afford it, you'll be surprised on how many things you buy that you don't really need. It's worth it. Please. Stage one cancer has an almost 100% survival rate! The longer you wait, the more it spreads, and your odds of survival are less and less.
I love all of you. Please just do it! Thank you. XOXOXO
Also, any positive energy you have to spare for my grandma would be very much appreciated.