Thursday, March 27, 2014

Someone has to be the one in ten

I was never very good at statistics. As a business major, it was a required course and I squeaked through with a C-minus. Maybe the reason I dislike statistics so much is that inherently I think it's bullshit. I recently saw a headline in the local paper that read "Central Ohio's jobless rate lowest in state for February." That's nice and all, but if you're part of the 5.5 percent of people who are unemployed, it really doesn't mean jack shit.

And so, when a breast specialist (or boob doctor, as I like to call her) told me 3 weeks ago that I had some calcification in my breast and that "nine times out of ten it's nothing," I thought that doesn't really help the one who doesn't fall in that category.

This time I'm the one.

The good news is that it was caught very early. It's considered "stage zero" cancer. So while I know I'm very lucky in that it's extremely curable right now, it's still cancer and I want it gone.

I refuse to use pink.


It all started with my annual mammogram in mid-February. I have a family history of breast cancer so I've been getting annual screenings since I turned 35. A week or so later I got a call that something looked different from last year - the first time that's ever happened to me. The boob doctor wanted me to come in for magnified pictures and they had an opening the next morning so I went in. This was similar to a regular mammogram but admittedly a bit more uncomfortable. The doctor looked at the films while I was there and relayed the news about the calcification. "Since we can't be 100% sure, we need to do a biopsy."

The following Friday I went in for the biopsy. It wasn't too awful, except it involved lying on my side for longer than I'd like. They numbed up my boob and took samples and inserted a tiny chip as a marker and I had more mammogram-type tests, before and after. The whole thing took maybe an hour and a half. Afterwards, I was pretty tired so I took it easy with ice packed in my sports bra.

They said I'd hear something in two business days. I had the biopsy on a Friday so that meant I had to wait until Tuesday but I was OK with that because we were heading to Hershey, PA for the Sting/Paul Simon concert so I'd be distracted. Except, as you may remember, we never got out of town because I got hit with some kind of stomach flu. So not only was I stuck at home, unsure of which way to face the toilet at any given moment, but I had more time to think about the biopsy.

On Tuesday I waited anxiously for the phone to ring. When it finally did, around 3:00, I was told that the pathologist was sending my samples for "a second opinion." Fuck. Me. (Sorry, Mom.) She said that they should hear something Wednesday or possibly Thursday morning.

Gwensday came and went. Thursday dragged on and at 4:00 I finally called. Yes, the results had come in but the boob doctor had been in procedures all day and yes, she would call me that day. She called around 5:00. "Unfortunately I don't have great news." I have to say though that she was so sweet. She told me what the results were and then she paused and said "are you OK?"

I'll fast-forward a bit here. I got in to see a breast surgeon pretty quickly and tomorrow (Friday) I'm having a lumpectomy. It's an outpatient procedure and recovery shouldn't be too bad. I'll likely have radiation at some point but I won't need chemo.

I'm not sharing this to get sympathy. In the grand scheme of things, I'm pretty fortunate and this is just a blip on the radar of my life. Don't get me wrong, I'll take any good vibes or prayers or healing light or whatever good juju you want to send my way. I'm sharing this because I'm not the kind of person who keeps things like this a secret. I'm also putting it out there because I know that there's controversy about whether mammograms are necessary. You can make up your own mind about that; I won't preach about it. All I know is that I'm thankful for my annual mammogram and for doctors who are willing to be aggressive in hopes that my "touch of cancer" (my words, not anyone else's) is just that and won't ever come back.


30 comments:

  1. Thinking good thought and hoping Friday the lumpectomy goes well. Stay strong.

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  2. gwen, first off, thanks so much for sharing your story; i know this is a scary thing to deal with. but the bright side of this is that it's caught early and your procedure is around the corner so you can get that jazz out of your system.

    thinking of you!

    -kathy | Vodka and Soda

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  3. I'm so proud of you for sharing this! And while I do like the pink, I'm totally digging the leopard "Fight Like A Girl."
    Even when it's just "a touch of cancer," as you put it, it's still something scary in your body that's not supposed to be there. That must have been hard to hear from the doctor, especially when 9 times out of 10, it's nothing. You want that shit out, and I'm glad you are proactive with your screening and it was found early. We have a very strong family history, so I for one think screening is imperative. I had my first boobiegram last August, they save lives.
    You got this by the balls. Errr... The boobs. No doubt Aaron with be by your side, and you have sooooo many people who love you and are cheering you on!
    Fight Like A Girl, Gwen Coco!!!!
    Love you <3

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  4. I know you will fight like a girl and kick this cancer's ass! I believe early screening is very important and I'm glad you were proactive. Good Luck on Friday - I will keep you in my thoughts!

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  5. Fuck. Me.

    No, scratch that. Fuck. Cancer.

    You go fight like a girl. We're right here with you. All my love, which you already knew. <3

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  6. Ahhhh good luck tomorrow!! You're totally going to kick cancer in the gonads and give it the finger on the way out the door!

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  7. You got this! I'm behind you from PA, wish I was closer. Your attitude rocks. Love you.

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  8. I'm so glad you were able to catch it early on! I will be sending you positive thoughts tomorrow!!!!!! :D

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  9. Gwen, I for one would not like to be the cancer that has to deal with you. You will kick it's ass. Hard. To the curb. Don't let the door hit it in the way out. Love you! !!!!!

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    1. I love this comment. You rock, Ann!

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  10. Hi there, I'm Caitlin - I headed over here from Steph's blog (Life According to Steph). I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through right now. Thank god it was caught early! I'm sending you lots of positive thoughts, good juju, and prayers for tomorrow!

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  11. I'll be thinking about you and sending all positive thoughts your way tomorrow!! You got this girl!!

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  12. Reprogram your cells to perfection a lot. Affirm your perfect health. Infuse your cells AND cell memory with the green light of healing, to heal your mind, body, soul. All of this is free and uplifting. Say it, think it, believe it.
    It can only help. Certain things are in your life chart, I believe, and you can ease whatever not-nice stuff by affirming and surrounding yourself with the white lights, etc. And count blessings first. I know you are a good and positive person, but re-affirming is soothing and helpful. Goddess speed always. I love that picture of you and my Steph!!!! Love, Steph's Momma

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    1. Linda, that's one of my favorite pictures too. Thank you so much for you positivity!

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  13. Gwen, I'm so sorry I'm just seeing this now. I've been sucky at SYM lately. Love you, and sending tremendously bright white light your way!

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  14. Awesome, awesome, awesome blog post maam. I'm sending all the good juju I got from Alabama, and I love you. I'm a phone call away. And thank you for not using pink.

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  15. Oh Gwen, I'm so sorry. I LOVE your attitude and I'm so glad you shared this. Keep us posted! I'm sending positive thoughts!!

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  16. good luck, kick it's ass!! sending positive thoughts your way!

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  17. Sending good vibes your way!I like that last comment. "Kick its ass." :)

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  18. Sharing this news is admirable. When your journey takes you on a detour and you navigate your way back on course you give others the information they need when they travel that road. Whether it is the same detour or another, your bravery in sharing shows all of us we can get through. Positive thoughts on their way and hoping this detour ends quickly and you are back on your way wiser and stronger than ever.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori. I really appreciate your words!

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  19. thinking of you! Praying for all good news from here on out!

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  20. I'm so sorry I didn't see this before your surgery, but I know you are an absolute rockstar and I admire your outlook on the whole thing. I am thankful you found it early and I'll for sure keep you in my prayers for a quick recovery and good news for you, friend.

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  21. Hi Gwen, I'm your new neighbor, Anne @ 150 Punta. Been there, done that if you'd like to chat or just unload! Diagnosed stage 2 breat cancer in 2012. Two lumpectomies followed by 6 weeks daily radiation.

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