#MyLeftBoob #BreastCancer Battle Phase 3: Walking the Tightrope While Accentuating the Positive

Screenshot 2015-08-28 at 2.25.45 AM

“The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.” ~William Shakespeare, Othello

Many think cancer robs people of so much and they’re partially right. Yes, it can rob us of strength, finances, hair, appetite and sometimes relationships, but it doesn’t have to steal our sense of humor or positive attitude.

It also gives us something invaluable that many take for granted- appreciating every day of life and those around us.

My doctor told me brain studies were done on cancer patients who maintain a positive attitude during treatment and they showed they have a much better prognosis than those who don’t. One thing I’ve had throughout this journey is an attitude of gratitude. I am so grateful for your donations, prayers, love, well wishes, dinners and everything else I’ve been blessed with.

This week I’ve gotten so many well wishes of people asking how radiation is going. Thank you! The only thing is- I haven’t started it yet because I’m still recovering from surgery #3.

Last Friday I met with the radiologist who discussed what to expect during the next phase- 30 doses of radiation, 5 days a week, Monday through Friday for 6 weeks. I can’t start until the surgery scar heals or there could be “irreversible damage” to my tissue. And we can’t put it off anymore because radiation is supposed to start 4-7 weeks after chemo is completed. But because I had to get the abnormal lump removed, it’s cutting it pretty close.

Next up at this appointment was yet another surprise. I didn’t realize going in that I was going to get tattooed. Those “little blue dots” the doctor told me about last week were actually 3 permanent painful tattoos on my chest and either side of my belly to guide technicians when they start. If you’ve read my earlier posts you know how I feel about needles…..not a fan.

I had to get a CT scan and get marked for the tattoos. The nurse positioned me on the table to map out a plan for treatment so the radiation doesn’t hit my vital organs…you know, the heart and the lungs? This was another thought that hadn’t crossed my mind. Oy! They found the best position, tatted me up and sent me on my way.

Next up was the surgical follow-up on Monday. The doctor removed the surgi-strips and said the scar, although still red and very tender, looked good. She gave the OK for me to start radiation on Thursday, Sept. 3.

Since talking about the next phase, a lot of people are offering tips, advice and horror…ahem, I mean first-hand experience stories. I’ve been told I’ll feel extremely tired, my ribs will hurt, I’ll have to think to breathe, I’ll lose 70% of my lung capacity, I’ll get severe burns- especially since I’m so fair-skinned, and the list goes on and on.

As I did with chemo, I’m trying not to let those comments get to me. I’m putting blinders on, going in with a positive attitude and hoping it’s not as bad as they said it will be.

One thing I’ve learned through all of this is that people really do mean well. What I haven’t learned yet is how to get people to stop telling me their horror stories or other things to instill fear into me- something I don’t need right now.

It’s scary enough to be told you have a life-threatening illness, and that it’s really rare and very aggressive, and that it has a high recurrence rate. Then on top of that to be told how someone knows someone who died from this or didn’t get the best care or had it come back to their lungs or skin or bones or brain 2 or 3 times. No, I don’t need to hear any of that. Keeping my mind in a good place it of the utmost importance right now. And that’s why I must again remind myself to focus on the positives:

1. We caught it early at stage 1
2. The tumor was contained to one milk duct
3. It has not spread to my lymph nodes
4. With dense dose ACT chemo and radiation there is a 90% chance it won’t come back
5. March 5th’s PET Scan said I’m cancer free!

A few people have asked why I had to get chemo and radiation if I had a lumpectomy and they got it all out. It’s because Metaplastic Carcinoma (MpBC) is a very aggressive cancer so my treatment needs to be aggressive as well. And MpBC grows very quickly.

They want to make sure to kill any last trace cell that’s too small to show up on a scan. Metaplastic means “change in form” and this type of breast cancer is known to come back and change in form, spreading to the lungs, skin or bones.

Others have asked what follow-up meds I’m on and when I say “none,” a look of shock comes over them. Because I’m Triple Negative I have no estrogen, progesterone or Her2 receptors so there’s nothing I can take for prevention. It’s a frightening thought and sometimes I feel as if I’m walking on a tightrope in high heels with no net. But I do have my balancing stick and a fancy outfit. As long as I keep my eyes straight ahead, focused on the end result and don’t look down, I’ll be okay.

As Sam Cooke once said, I’ve “got to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative, but don’t mess with mister in between.”

And as God once said, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10

So I will keep walking the tightrope, peach fuzz topped head, with a smile on my face and slight numbness in my fingers and toes. And I’ll do some really big jazz hands when I finally get to the other side. TA DA!!!!!!!!

CLICK HERE to support my breast cancer battle on GoFundMe.com. Any amount, no matter how small, helps with my medical bills. Thank you! 🙂

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