I had the most interesting weekend. I was so bored, and sick of being in the house. Its been really cold in Seattle, and if you know Seattle cold and moisture can make it quite uncomfortable. Arizona is colder than we are today. But the one thing that was nice was the ‘sun’!
I put on my warm clothes (after the Seahawks lost) and set out for a walk. About ten minutes into that, I found a warm spot near a tree and just stood there and absorbed the light rays. Hopefully, I generated some vitamin D. It was too cold, so I went and got my car and headed out. I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was going to do. I drove around, turned right where I normally go left.
I drove by a little bakery that I know has cookies just like my grandma use to make. I hadn’t been there in years so I took a chance they still might have those little white powdered sugar delights). I went around the block. Should I? I just had this draw to go inside. So I did. What the heck, what will two cookies matter. I will go home and get on the treadmill.
I walked in and the lady behind the counter said hello. I said it was cold and wanted three (oops) white cookies. She bagged the cookies and I kept looking at her, and her looking at me. She just tossed it out to me that she had just finished her last cancer treatment. Breast cancer? Yes, she said. Yes, I said, me too. She said she was done with with treatment, and I said ‘me too!’. Cancer free (knock on wood I thought) both of us!
We then had the best conversation! Over an hour! I didn’t know I could stand that long. I know I am getting better. Last visit to the oncologist I could only stand up about 20 minutes (around the 12/12). It was amazing. We had almost the same cancer. But then, she threw me a left curve. I asked her when was she diagnosed. November 2010. “And you are still in treatment?” Yes. Hers was stage 1, and mine was stage 2.
What the stages mean basically are, both of them did not spread outside the breast. Hers was smaller than mine and in only one place, but it was invasive also. Which means it broke outside the duct an spread into surrounding tissue. This is totally not good. The difference was I had two positives, Estrogen and Progesterone; and she had three, mine plus HER+. Now I absolutely understand why my oncologist said it was a very good thing I was not HER positive.
Here I am, six months from diagnosis, and my cancer is gone. Well so is my left breast; and I am done with the actual treatment except the Hormone blocker meds. She is starting the same medicine I am taking so we had a long discussion about that. Of course, everybody is different but she felt relieved I think, that I said it was not bad, it isn’t even 2 on a scale of 1 – 10. I think I feel better even.
But surgically our treatments were similar and radically different. She had two surgeries on her tumor site, just as I did. But her second one was clean; so she didn’t need a mastectomy. But with a lumpectomy you then have to do radiation (30 treatments or so) with a port placed in your chest somewhere to kill everything. Then she followed with a year….A YEAR…of chemotherapy treatments! That was because of the HER+ result.
Well, thank goodness I didn’t have to do that. But she saved the breast, I lost it, and I have the arm inflammation to deal with, which was horrible in this bad weather. She lost her hair, but that comes back; my hair broke off but its coming back (and I mean it broke off almost to the head) but …oh well. And, of course she did all the preventative stuff which I didn’t have to because we removed it.
What a ‘coincidence‘ that I would drive aimlessly, stop at a store where she was working all by herself and no customers came in until the end. An Asian woman, around 40 joined our conversation and expressed her concern over not knowing her family history because she was adopted. We both encouraged her to just take charge of her own health and history, and get a mammogram for a baseline while she is still young (hey 40 feels young when you are 60). And we told her we had no history that we could really verify. Its smart to just get your mammogram, get regular physicals so you can find and manage any condition that shows up in your lifetime.
Wow, I made a new friend yesterday, maybe two! I don’t believe in coincidence…what a nice day it turned out to be! Excellent! Absolutely excellent!