Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fare thee well...

...but not to my breast -- well, not quite just yet, anyway.

That is something I will no doubt continue to write about, here and at my other blogs, intermittently and perhaps perpetually. But today I am thinking about another body part that shall be leaving me. Today I am saying goodbye to my belly, or at least a rather large portion of it.

I will be having a tummy tuck as part of this procedure. It's not optional, not an added bonus like buy one get one free. It's a necessary part of the operation.

If there were one body part I felt suffered the most for the triple ravages of time, pregnancy and obesity, it's my tummy. In fact, ironically, I was just beginning to research the process of having a tummy tuck when I found the first breast lump. It was a procedure I needed to have done eventually, not so much for vanity's sake but for health reasons...suffice is to say that much extra skin isn't easy to deal with and we'll leave the TMI aside for the time being.

So, after a 2nd meeting with my plastic surgeon I found out that not only will all that extra skin below my navel be removed, but the upper ab area will also be flattened out as a result of suturing the remaining muscles.

Wow, I hardly know what to think!

"You do realize," I said to my husband as we left the hospital, "that this means a whole new shopping process when this is finally over?" He just shook his head and smiled.

I mean, nothing will fit me anymore. And maybe I'll be able to tuck shirts in...and I won't have to buy my jeans a size larger just to accomodate my waist -- they'll fit me better right off the rack. When I try on clothes that look good from the front I won't be continually disappointed that the profile view is, shall we say, protruding.

And perhaps the most incomprehensible factor of all...no more dreaded muffin top!

Lest you think I've forgotten why I get this little extra boon and what I have to sacrifice for it, I have not. But still, I can't believe that after all these years....almost 8 years since I lost the weight, I will have a normal looking stomach.


And yet...I find myself nostalgic. I earned that belly. True, that belly began to grow from my depression and discontent, from self-medicating with food a life full of pain and malnourishment. But it also expanded and welcomed my two precious babies, accommodating them safely, proudly, until they belonged not just to me but to the world.

What's left of my former girth is now a flopping, sagging badge of determination...to live, to be healthy, to lose the weight that once filled it up -- no small task, I assure you. It is deflated evidence of how far I have come.

So in closing, perhaps a moment of silence for my soon-to-be-gone belly? It was the best of times it was the worst of times. Thanks for all you've done...and perhaps most importantly, thanks for still being there, for without you I would not be able to fill the empty space left from my mastectomy. If it weren't for you, I'd have no right breast.

So gee, I guess it's not really goodbye after all...more like see ya later. In fact, you'll be closer to my heart than ever before.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Secret Agent Mama

Thought I'd give you all an update on how Daniel is doing -- he is fine, in fact, he's better than fine. He is happy, affectionate and cuddly, very playful, still a demanding little guy but a joyful loving boy. There's been a few incidence of him wanting to see my ta-tas...but he hasn't asked to nurse, nor have I been solicited into nursing anymore dinosaurs.

But I will tell you a secret...I am still nursing him a little here and there, only he doesn't know it. How is that possible? I do it at night, covertly, while he sleeps.

Both my kids and I co-sleep (remember, I'm THAT crunchy granola mom) and both Meggie in her day and Daniel in his would frequently nurse in their sleep. I always obliged. In fact, Megan was a preemie and nursed every two hours for the first two years of her life. Yes, you read that correctly. Thankfully, lactating moms have happy hormones that help with sleep deprivation (well, to some extent, anyway, lol).

When I started to wean Daniel after my diagnosis it went quicker than I thought, both to my deep relief and great sorrow. For a while I was still pumping a little milk in some vague hope that I could return to nursing him at a future point in time. I know now that will be impossible. Even if I manage to escape chemo I will have to take drugs to shut down my ovaries and still more drugs to suppress any stray estrogen left...for at least five years. These medications are contraindicated in breastfeeding. I can't begin to tell you how hard this still is for me to accept...words fail.

Assuming for the moment I am lucky and don't need chemo I can wait until around October to start the ovarian ablation & Arimidex. So I could still be nursing Daniel all that time. But of course to start him up again now only to take it away later would be cruel to say the least.

And so at night, sometimes, I nurse him as he sleeps. I don't do it every night because I don't want to create any sort of pattern he might come to depend on. But a few times a week I indulge us both. I imagine that in his sweet little baby dreams he knows...I swear that on some subconscious level he feels the love I have for him pouring out in these last, precious drops of mother's milk....my secret gift. To us both.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

It's real now

I got my surgery date. It's at the end of July (not sure I should post the exact date online).

Anyway, it's set, the OR booked. I know what time to arrive at the hospital and what time I'll be on the table...I know who will be performing exactly what procedure.

I've had my bone scan today, the last of multiple tests. I need only to see a regular doctor for medical clearance -- really a formality.

The research is done. My decision made. Things are moving forward.

And here I sit, stunned like a deer in headlights as if I just found out today that I have breast cancer, as if I just found out I need a mastectomy.

There's a mark on the calender...it's real now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PHOTO: Hair today, gone tomorrow :(

I've been told that doing my hair after my mastectomy will be a challenge. I won't be able to shower for a long time and even when I finally can, raising my arms above my head to shampoo could be difficult. Someone will probably have to help me wash my hair over the kitchen sink.

Needless to say, I figured a haircut was in order. I was overdue for a trim anyway because I like my hair around shoulder length. So, I printed out a copy of my profile photo over there at the right and asked the hairdresser to recreate it.

This is the result and I absolutely HATE it. Silly as it sounds, if I stand a certain way it doesn't look as awful, but beyond that...

It's considerably shorter and even the shape isn't the same...more of a bob, longer in the front than the back.

At first I figured, so what? It's only hair...and I tried to get over it. But this may be my last haircut for a while...I may end up doing chemo before I know it and this will be the last style I have before it all falls out.

I wish I hadn't gone someplace new, wish I'd left it alone or gone to my regular hairdresser. I am really upset about it. I am sure people will say it looks nice and maybe it even does -- I keep trying to comfort myself with the fact that it grows back...but what I really wish was that my damn nipple would grow back. And it won't. And so I'm putting all my anguish into my stupid hair instead of that.

I guess this goes beyond a bad hair day.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sun spots

In honor of yesterday's summer solstice...

The magnetic fields of the sun are complicated and unpredictable, kind of like life. A manifestation of these variable magnetic fields are sun spots, marks that in a sense mar the sun’s fiery surface like “solar blemishes” if you will. Sunspots are actually evidence of fierce winds, as well as massive explosions called solar flares.

My VERY limited understanding is these explosions discharge some sort of magnetic energy that sends charged particles shooting into the earth’s atmosphere where they interact with the gases present there, thus causing an intensified and enhanced glow of the aurora borealis…yup, the magnificent northern lights! I’ve never seen them in real life, but photographs portray haunting, achingly beautiful light dancing in the velvet night sky – a sight to behold and one I do hope to see some day.

All this got me to thinking...in reality, the most magnificent displays of the northern lights are created from what could be perceived as some rather harsh imperfections upon the otherwise radiant face of a shining star. Yet without those very same brutal flaws a thing of incredible and unique beauty would be diminshed.

Imagine that.

Have a sunny day :)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ten things five plastic surgeons said to me:

1. You have too much breast skin; the “extra” needs to be removed.

2. You don’t have the type of body for implants.

3. Your breast envelope is too flat (ok, is that taken care of by the post office, or UPS?)

4. There are weeds in your garden, if they have popped up in one breast they will pop up everywhere else.

5. You should have a bilateral mastectomy to achieve the best symmetry.

6. Fake nipples are more convenient than real ones because they don’t project as much.

7. Implants are your only choice (um, see number two above).

8. Referring to my other breast, “Why would you want to match that one?”

9. You’ll never win any wet t-shirt contests.

10 -- Yes, I will make you a breast that matches, as closely as possible, your original one, and I understand why you want that.

BINGO! Yes, that last one is the winner :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PHOTO: My newest accessory

Several people remarked that I looked different in the recent photo I posted...meaning 'different' in a good way :)

First of all, thank you!

If I do look changed it could be due to the fact that I've lost a little bit of weight by modifying how I eat. In order to prepare myself for the battle ahead I have given my diet a major overhaul.

Food-wise, I am in warrior mode.

I've been a vegetarian for almost 8 years now, and a vegan for a little over 6. Prior to that, when I weighed as much as 300 lbs, my diet consisted of alot of junk food punctuated by frequent but failed attempts to turn over a new leaf. When Megan was born, that leaf was in a sense turned over for me, as I recently blogged about. (hey, that whole leaf metaphor works rather well since I'm a plant-eater, huh?)

Anyway, people unfamiliar with a plant based diet often think it is limiting or all about deprivation. Trust me, it's not. Gourmet food abounds that is veggie friendly. And while many of us can be rather health conscious it is still possible to pig out on plenty of junk food, too. French fries -- vegan. Oreos -- yup, vegan. You'd be surprised at all the readily available vegan foods, not to mention that places like Whole Foods have an array of temptations at the ready for even the strictest vegetarian gourmand.

Clearly I didn't lose 130 lbs and maintain it for all this time by indulging in too many Oreos or french fries, lol. Once I went veg, compared to typical Western standards, I ate a pretty healthy diet. But after Daniel was born and life got more hectic I admit to relying more and more on convenience foods instead of eating the fresh, home-cooked meals as often as we did before.

However since my breast cancer diagnosis I have been back to following a leaner, cleaner version of my usual vegan diet, and then some. Now I eat virtually no processed foods and absolutely no sugar -- no sweeteners of any kind, in fact. Sugar is inflammatory and the last thing you want if you are dealing with an illness is increased inflammation, especially when it comes to cancer.
I've also tried incorporating alot of macrobiotic principles into my new approach to food as medicine. A typical day has me easily eating at least 9 servings of fruits and veggies, (more veg than fruit, even fruit has natural sugars) and 3 or 4 large servings of whole grains...a couple servings of beans and some sea vegetables too. I still microwave some of my food (a no-no in macrobiotics) but rely more now on steaming, blanching or light sauteing. I always bought organic if available before, but I've stepped that up to eating at least 90% organic now.

The results are that I feel -- well, great, actually. If I didn't have cancer I'd swear I was the healthiest I've ever been. My energy level and ability to stay calm (relatively speaking) under dire circumstances is evidence enough that this way of eating is healing and serving me well.

And I really enjoy the foods I eat! A dinner plate half covered with a rainbow swath of a variety of veggies and a luscious mound of rice & beans is beautiful, colorful, and more hearty than you can even imagine. Real food tastes delicious, especially if you give your taste buds half the chance to recover and again relish the vitality of natural flavors.

So, maybe this is why I look different. I guess you could say quality food has become my best new accessory :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just do it

I died once. Seriously. I took what was (almost) my last breath on the evening of August 5th, 2001. For real.

After being hospitalized for a battle with pneumonia while seven months pregnant with Megan, my blood pressure suddenly spiked. I slipped from pre-eclampsia to full tilt eclampsia and before they took Megan via emergency c-section I went into convulsions.

Finally, while in recovery with my (thankfully) healthy baby safely in the regular nursery, Michael watched as I struggled to breathe. And then there was that fateful, final breath as I coded. Right in front of him.

Needless to say, I'm still here, so there's a happy ending. But it was a long time coming. My breathing remained compromised and my blood pressure stayed high even on medication for months. Two weeks after that event I developed the addition of excruciating gallstones and was at constant risk for pancreatitus. But no surgeon wanted to touch me to remove my gallbladder -- all were afraid I wouldn't live thru even a laproscopic procedure. No one thought I would be able to care for my child. I did tho, thru sheer will, determination and pure love.

The saga of how I went from that dying woman to relative health (if you don't count breast cancer) is a long one, destined for another time. What I am writing about today is what if feels like to die. It's an uncomfortable thought for many, but I want to share my experience.

My eyes were closed and I was unable to open them, tho I didn't try very hard. Still, I remember taking that last breath. I remember it very clearly. I had no awareness that the surgery was over. For all I knew I was still under the anesthesia or just waking up, it made no difference to me. After every thing I had been thru to conceive this precious child (a saga in and of itself) in my unconscious state I couldn't think of her at all.

Instead I was completely absorbed with the process of breathing. It was the most difficult task I had ever experienced. Each breath was a struggle, and it had been for weeks. But now it was harder than ever before. I was trying with all my might to remain calm, not to panic. Like someone trying to tread water I knew that if I panicked I would drown, I would not be able to maintain my breathing. And as suddenly as that realization hit me, an inner voice said, "Just let go. You can stop now. You don't have to do this anymore, it's okay."

And so I stopped. I just simply stopped struggling, stopped breathing. A feeling of peace came over me, a sense of calm and relief the likes of which I have never known. I was almost thrilled that it was that easy. So much fighting and struggling and all I had to do was let go.

I don't remember having a choice about living or dying, just the feeling of falling and the sound of someone screaming at me, "come back, come back, come back!" After that, my next memory is waking up later in the ICU and trying to find out about my baby. It was a long, painful night until the next day when I could finally hold my precious little girl. That memory too is powerful, in fact, more powerful than life or death. It was only the horror that I could have left her behind that made me glad to be back in my suffering body again, more than glad, I was elated...and grateful.

I carried away many insights from that trauma, some still reveal themselves to me now, nearly 8 years later. I consider my daughter's birthday my re-birthday because it was the beginning of a journey to health and a new life. You don't realize how precious something is, sometimes, until you almost lose it.

In a literal sense I found out death itself is nothing to fear. True, the time leading up to it may be more horrendous than anyone can imagine if you suffer from prolonged illlness, but the end part is simple, peaceful and soothing. I find that to be a great comfort. Especially now as I face an illness that could be what I eventually die from, tho I am as determined to avoid that fate now as I was to live once I came back from the dead on that August day.

I also can't help but think in metaphorical terms and find a life lesson in the symbolism. I had struggled alot in my life, I had railed against inevitabilities and prior traumas, held on tightly to my many wounds. It had left me battle scarred and more weary than I can describe. I needed to just let go, but somehow I couldn't. Over the first years of Megan's life as I dealt with recovery and motherhood I realized letting go is easier than we think. It really comes down to an infamous cliche of three little words: Just do it. Nothing is so important that it can't be let go if need be.

Oh, except life itself. That's worth the struggle at all costs to the bitter end. But when that end naturally comes, letting go of even that can be simple, gentle and freeing.

I will not go gentle into that good night, but when the night is over, many, many healthy years from now, there is peace waiting for me...for us all.

Trust me, I've been there, done that.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

13 things I've learned

Alot of things in my life are less complicated than I made them.

I am very blessed to be smart.

Any doctor threatened by my intelligence is one I should stay away from.

Having anxiety doesn’t make me less capable.

Having anxiety doesn’t make me less brave.

I can cry and think at the same time.

I am way stronger than I ever thought.

My love for the kids is a source of strength for my own self.

Sometimes I have to put my needs first.

More people are loving and kind than not.

When people unite in compassion it eliminates differences that don’t matter.

Rarely is anything insurmountable, often you just have to find another way around.

Time is a precious gift -- I will never see it the same way again.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finally -- a photo!

While I'm still coming to terms with what's about to happen and all the ramifications, life goes on...so, it's about time for a picture, don't you think?

Granted, this is not the most auspicious shot to restart with, it's a bit in the shadows and I look strangely green, lol. But Michael and I are out of practice since the last one and the light has changed now that summer is approaching.

After my diagnosis at first it was simply hard to have even a remotely pleasant expression on my face, so posting pix seemed, well, odd. Then after a while I was deeply absorbed in research and only dressed to go to the doctors -- which didn't induce a feeling of wanting to take a snap shot either.

But always in the back of my mind I knew that returning to at least a picture here and there was somehow important. I can't quite define why...perhaps it could give me a feeling of normalcy? Maybe it would add a visual record to the written one of my journey...and in years to come my kids would see how their mom went thru this awful thing but came out on the other side. That could be a life lesson for them to hold on to, surely.

And further, in my own more broad-reaching motherly/sisterly way, I'm hoping that any other woman who has to experience this could take some comfort in seeing that no matter what I end up looking like for a while, there will be eventually a return to the simple act of choosing clothes and trying to project my own best image as an empowering & creative expression of personal style.

So I've decided not just to document this journey with my words, but to try and illustrate it now too by including pre and post op pix, even photos of me going thru chemo (if necessary), the whole kit and caboodle. Mind you, I won't post a pic every day...but my goal is to put up a few with some semblance of regularity.

Most importantly, for those that need or want it, when it's all over & done with, I will even provide before, during & after photos of my breasts. I know that looking at reconstruction photos has been very important in my own process so if I can add to that for another woman I am glad to do it. Oh, and for my regular readers, now my dear beloved friends, if ya just wanna see what they look like I'll be happy to show you too ;) I know I'd be curious. (there'll be a password or email type deal so I'm not plastering my boobs up indiscriminately, fyi!)

Obviously this blog has morphed a little, changed a bit -- and certainly so have/will I. But the core principle remains fundamentally the same. This is my journey...thanks to all who join me for a any stretch of the road. It's a comfort to have such great company.

See ya...

Monday, June 8, 2009

What price life?

Deciding something and actually doing it are two very different things.

I have been completely consumed with making this decision for more than a month. I've blogged about it ad nauseam. I know intellectually mastectomy is most likely the wisest choice for me with my particular set of medical circumstances.

And yet...I am still having trouble letting my breast go.

I wrote in my previous post, "I am as at peace with my decision as one could be under the circumstances." Truthfully, I had hoped to be more resigned once I chose. But whenever I try and picture myself going to the hospital on the day of my surgery, everything in me is screaming, "NOOOOOOO!!!" A big part of me just can't imagine going through with this. I keep searching my mind in vain for another option. Words echo in my head like, "there has to be another way"...There are many moments I simply cannot wrap my brain around any of this.

I do think the breast mound, as they call it, will probably end up looking pretty good eventually. Although the surgery in my case will be particularly brutal (we're talking about 8 hours) and recovery will be long and arduous, I know pain passes and I will heal. Cancer-wise there is alot to deal with yet, still a bunch of unknown factors to be revealed. But these are bridges to be crossed when I get there. So, what's causing me the panic, the dread, the ultimate terrifying fear?

Of course I'm sure it comes as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog that what is causing me the most anguish about the whole thing is losing my nipple. I mean, really -- it's all about that damn nipple with me and has been from the start.

So, in order to get my feelings out and face them, you, dear reader, are coming along (if I haven't lost you already). To start with, let's talk sex. I mean, that's what this is about at the heart of the matter. We're all grown-ups here (hopefully). Oh, and get ready for a wee bit of TMI for those of you who fall on the prudish side of fence.

Michael and I have an absolutely lovely sex life. True, frequency is a challenge since we've had kids. But let's get real, find me any couple with little kids in a small house and I'll show you folks that are not swinging from the chandelier as often as they did before the babies came. However when we do have sex, it is...amazing. There, I said it. I'm not bragging, just sayin' (and right now my husband is reading this and dying a thousand deaths of embarrassment.) Truly, we have really great sex and I particularly enjoy my breasts in the process. Both of them. Alot.

What I'm getting at here is that this feels like an almost insurmountable loss...like something fundamental to who I am as a woman and who we are together as a couple is going to disappear under a surgeon's scalpel. A significant part of what makes me feel sexy and desirable will be ripped away forever and I am deeply mourning and rebelling against it all at the same time. I can't think about losing my nipple for more than a few minutes without wanting to cry my eyes out and dive into a bottle of Xanax.

Michael will love me no matter what, I know that. He will find me sexy no matter what. I know that too. But half of the equation of good sex is how you feel about yourself. Will I ever feel sexy or desirable again?

I want to have my nipple and my breast too. But I can't and that's not fair. Cancer has robbed me of them like a thief in the night. And the only thing that keeps me moving forward and actually going through with this mastectomy is that I somehow on some level do believe that if I don't give cancer my breast it will take my life.

As I write these words I realize maybe it comes down to this: I am trading a nipple for my life, for my kids to have a mother and my husband to have his wife, his lover. I am trading my former breast for a future with my family, not to mention the chance to pursue my own deep passions, my personal dreams...like writing poetry or that novel temporarily getting dusty right now.

I guess that's how I will have to try and think about this. It may be the ONLY way I can go thru with this. Yet even put into those terms I can't say it's a small price to pay -- it feels like a colossal, exorbitant and extreme price. But I'll pay it...only because I have no choice.

And that had better be it, God dammit! Because enough is enough.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I've finally made my decision

After ridiculously thorough research bordering on obsessive, I've reached the most sound medical decision I think is possible. In total I have seen 5 breast surgeons, 4 plastic surgeons, 2 medical oncologists and today met with 2 doctors of radiology. I had an ultrasound to look at the suspicious lesions revealed by the MRI. There are a number of them and biopsying them all would turn me into a human pincushion. The point is that my right breast has multifocal carcinomas. Removing the amount of tissue necessary to ensure getting all of it barely qualifies as "breast conservation" -- at best you could call it a partial mastectomy. And even then, relying on radiation to zap whatever microscopic stuff could be missed isn't the safest bet in terms of recurrence, not to mention the cosmetic results could be very poor.

Bottom line: I'm having a mastectomy.

It will be a skin sparing one with immediate reconstruction (tho the creation of a nipple/areola is done months later, to let things "settle"). On the bright side I will also be getting a tummy-tuck, that's what they use to fill in the emptied "breast envelope". However there are some dangers & complications regarding that due to my thrombophillia, but I'll write more about that another time. Fortunately there will be practically no scarring on the breast itself, it's not like the brutal versions done in the old days. I may have a small bit of incision emanating out from the newly built nipple/areola, but other than that the rest of my skin stays totally intact.

In retrospect, just on the cosmetic/emotional front this has really been more like a choice between losing or saving my nipple in my mind. In a way I feel like I'm going to end up with a "nipplectomy" because the rest of the breast will look pretty normal even after surgery. If I had chosen to try and keep my nipple,tho, I've been counseled there's a better than good chance it would have no sensation anyway as the one tumor practically touches the areola and no doubt getting it out would involve the decimation of nerve endings. In addition I would have to have 7 weeks of radiation, which now with the mastectomy is not necessary. Radiation has it's own set of health risks, but it also can wreak havoc on the cosmetic results in a case like mine.

I have been most helpfully guided in the end by very caring women medical professionals, which I will write about another time. There's something comforting and reassuring about that. I've also met the best and the worst of the profession over all and am especially motivated to try and somehow work to change the system after this is all over, because finding out information and getting good care shouldn't be the province of just the educated or middle class woman. But I digress :)

I am as at peace with my decision as one could be under the circumstances. My family, both Michael and Megan (Danny's too little) have also come to the same conclusions and are completely supportive of my choice. My Meggie is a wise little soul and really seems to get this -- I'm so proud of her. The way she helps take care of her brother is particularly touching and gives me a sense of both pride and relief. They have eachother.

As to my husband, the rock and saint, he has been with me every step of the way. I am hugely lucky. With the exception of two times when we didn't have anyone else to watch the children, he has come with me to every appointment, met with every doctor, held my hand through every test. Even on those two occasions we dragged the kids with us and he stayed in the waiting room for a couple hours, trying to keep a toddler entertained (no small feat) just so I could have a chauffeur and shoulder to lean on when I got done. I have written little about him only because he's a quiet and unassuming kinda guy...but he is truly a hero to me, and Honey when you read this know that I could never have survived this process without you. I can only entertain surviving what comes next because you are with me. I love you and I know you love me -- that's a gift beyond precious.

Okay, before I get any more soppy, I wanted to add that I don't have a date yet, and while I'm leaning towards one particular hospital and team of docs there's just a few loose ends to tie up before I commit. I'll post when I know for sure.

Now, back to the gratitude front....

Thank you a thousand times over to every single person who has read even a paragraph of this blog, let alone taken the time to leave me the most wonderful and supportive comments or send me lovely emails. You all have been such a huge part of what keeps me going, I cannot fully describe the strength I have received from knowing you are out there. You are in my heart as I move forward.

Blessings to all and I'll post again soon.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I hate math

Often when you read or hear about survival rates for women with breast cancer today the news is portrayed as good, in fact, REALLY good. And no doubt it is far better than even a mere decade ago. Plus there's lots of hope for further, even more rapid improvements in the near future, certainly.

Official survival statistics are usually expressed in terms of percentages. Take for instance "Stage I breast cancer" which is the stage it is (so far) assumed I am at. That staging touts as high as a 90% survival rate. Wow, how great! Oh, except...

...that's only for 5 years.

After that the survival rate goes down. And down. Until finally we get to 20 years and the rate has dropped to 64%. I haven't found any good statistics beyond that, which if you ask me doesn't bode well. So, in 20 years 64 out of every 100 women who had Stage I Breast Cancer will be alive. The other 36 women...

Okay, I don't want to be morose or defeatist, but I really hate these odds. I mean, I know I should be thinking positive and hope I'm in that group of 64 that's still alive in 20 years. And yeah, sure, the odds could be worse. But they could be a whole lot better too.

I suppose maybe at some point I'll get all into appreciating my life in the moment and living for today about this. But I am soooooo not there right now. Right now I'm heartbroken. Right now I'm pissed off. Right now, I'm scared out of my fraggin mind.

In twenty years I'll only be 65. Sixty-Five! That's still so young. Megan will only be near 28 and Daniel will be just half-past 22. Will I see my children live the prime of their lives? Will I get to see any of my grandchildren? Will Michael and I have some time to enjoy our "golden years" together? These are the type of questions often in the back of most people's minds as they age...but they just got moved to the forefront of mine, big time.

I know I can't reduce my own individual lifespan to a math equation...and that my life won't suddenly end at some magical statistical moment, of course. Sure, I plan to do alot of stuff to up my odds (oh my, you have no idea -- that's a whole 'nother blog in and of itself!) Yes, I know alot of people are going to say I shouldn't be thinking like this. But they also probably don't have cancer.

I do, and it's starting to sink in. And I am really sad today.