A friend let me know that I have not posted my final diagnosis. Here it is:
Stage III C with a Grade 1 tumor
Don’t know what that means? Well you can Google it.
I’m kidding, you don’t have to Google it. I will tell you.
The worst you can get before the REALLY bad one, Stage IV which is when it gets in your organs and/or bones.
As always, I am right there on the cusp.
From what I’ve read, the average person has about 40 lymph nodes in their armpit and breast area. Well, they took 43 of mine from my right side and of those 43, 35 of them were positive for cancer. 35 positive lymph nodes.
The ultrasound I had on April 1st said my tumor was approximately 2 cm. The MRI I had a couple of days later said because of my dense breast tissue it was difficult to determine the size but it could be anywhere from 2-5 cm. Well April fools on me because the tumor was 5cm.
And that’s why I am at Stage III C. Big tumor and lots of lymph nodes.
And another April Fool’s joke is that the tumor is still classified as a Grade 1. Slow growing, well-differentiated. A lazy dopey, slow growing tumor that somehow invaded 35 of my lymph nodes.
It doesn’t seem right does it?
Another friend asked me, how did it get this far?
I have no idea. It was hiding. No one found it. I thought I noticed something when I was nursing my youngest but my doctor and I couldn’t find it later and back then I was 35. Too young for a mammogram. Was it there then? I have no idea. I kind of hope not but we. don’t. know. And I ran marathons (very slowly, but still!). And I have a lot of energy and I feel really good.
I still feel really good despite the fact that I have Stage IIIC cancer. I feel good.
This all is really bad BUT it is not as bad as Stage IV when they would have basically given up on me. But it’s bad.
My oncologist is going to attack it with dense dose chemo. Chemo every two weeks instead of every three. Sound like fun?
No, it doesn’t sound like fun to me either.
And then when the chemo is over, I get radiation. Five days a week for five weeks.
And then I get to take a drug. Tamoxifen. Doesn’t it sound evil just from the name? Tamoxifen. Ooooooh.
It’s an estrogen blocker that will starve whatever cancer is left after the chemo and the radiation.
And then there is always the chance that it will come back. Yes, there is that chance. Some people do all this and it still comes back and kills them. It could kill me and that is a big thing to face.
Years ago, my husband shared this quote with me:
‘Death whispers into my ear, “live now, for I am coming”‘ ~ Virgil
This really struck me, even back when I first read it. This is important. This is big. And I refuse to live in fear of death. What’s the point? It’s coming anyway. It’s coming for all of us. All of us. Death is coming.
And I can’t help but feel like this is an opportunity.
So I am going to live. I am going to go places and do things and I am going to laugh. I am going to play. I am going to run and do yoga and ride my bike. I am going to love on my family and my friends. Heck, I might even crash your party. I am going to walk my boys to school. I am going to live.
Stage III C. Yeah. It’s daunting. It’s bad. I feel great right now but I am going to get my butt kicked for the next six months at least. Seriously, I am in for a serious butt kickin’ and it scares me a great deal.
And Death can keep whispering in my ear because Death gives good advice.
Live now. Live now.
May 7, 2013 at 7:31 pm
Beth, what a gift you have of writing, also for embracing life and staying positive! I felt a bit of shame when I read about your treatment plan, chemo, radiation and then Tamoxifen because I had a mastectomy last July and fortunately there wasn’t any cancer in my lymph nodes so my only treatment was to take Tamoxifen for 5 years. I am feeling shame because I’ve been complaining about the side effects ( hot flashes, weight gain and a creakiness in my bones after I run only three miles) after reading your beautiful and thoughtful words about your diagnosis I’ve decided to be grateful for the chance to take Tamoxifen and stop complaining. Your positive attitude not only helps you but others too. Stay positive, keep praying and keep writing! Please know that I am praying for you too!
May 7, 2013 at 10:36 pm
I think you should celebrate. Don’t feel badly because your treatment is easier. I was hoping mine was going to be easy. We all expected mine to be easy but that’s not what happened. It doesn’t diminish your struggle. There is no cancer contest. It all stinks.
Keep taking the Tamoxifen though. Ok?
May 8, 2013 at 5:49 am
Staying positive and keeping a sense of humor throughout your journey is a medicine doctors can’t prescribe. I think we can all learn from you. I know you have become an inspiration to me. Stay strong and keep smiling :p
May 8, 2013 at 9:39 am
May the Force be with you and give you strength in the weeks ahead.
May 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Keep up with the blogging. I love reading your blogs. Your positive attitude and amazing strength will get you through this. Stay strong!
May 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
You can do this girl. Chemo absolutely sucks but you emerge on the other side more deeply in love with your kids and husband and life and eyelashes. One day at a time and suddenly you look up and you are seven years out, trolling for mothers day blogs on cancer survivors, and you find you are one of them. Keep swimming and remember how you ran those marathons.