Diagnosis

If you’ve found this blog because you, too, have been diagnosed with cancer, and you feel like your whole world is crumbling and your head is spinning around 360 degrees like the Exorcist and you just want to know you’re not alone, then this page may be of interest to you.

I found the lump myself, a few weeks before my 25th birthday. I went to the gynecologist, who told me it was a cyst and not to worry, but to come back if it didn’t disappear in a few months. Four months on, it was still hanging out. That’s when I got the ultrasound, the biopsy, and the worst phone call EVER.

Some facts for the medically-inclined:

  • Invasive ductal carcinoma with lobular features
  • 1.4cm tumor, left breast
  • ER+/PR+
  • HER2/neu+++
  • Grade 2
  • 0/1 nodes

As for what I’m going to do about it:

  • Double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction on 1/11/13
  • Genetic testing completed; BRCA 1 & 2 negative
  • 6 cycles of chemotherapy (TCH regimen), 2/26/13 – 6/11/13
  • One year of intravenous monoclonal antibody treatment (Herceptin)
  • Five years of hormone therapy (Tamoxifen)

 

26 thoughts on “Diagnosis

  1. Cara says:

    I don’t have cancer. I hope I never do. But reading this blog gives me a sense of connection and awe. You have a true gift in your ability to make people laugh about things that should make the whole world cry. (Well, I’ll be honest, I cried a little. Good tears, though!!) You have inspired me to live with more purpose in my own, thankfully healthy life, with your beautiful strength. Not strength in the sense that you’re fighting dragons, but in the sense that you are facing something terrible and you cry and feel hopeless and lost and that life has betrayed you and then you go and live through it. You are weak at times and beaten, but you’re surviving. And coping in such a way as to touch other people’s hearts. Yay for you! Keep on laughing!

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you! I too hope that you never have cancer – but if you ever do, you know I’ll be here for you, along with the millions of other survivors who know that there is life beyond cancer. πŸ™‚

  2. lythya says:

    Doctors should always check properly!!

    • Michelle says:

      I don’t blame her – she played the odds. Even the radiologist told me she didn’t think it was cancer, while she was looking right at it and saying it looked like cancer. The average age at diagnosis for breast cancer is in the mid to late 60s, so I’m definitely one for the medical textbooks.

  3. I found you because you were Freshly Pressed….I have a genetic condition called Cowden’s Syndrome that puts me high risk for breast cancer (85%). I’m contemplating PBM and stuff like that….but first off I have to get screened ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY for all the other cancers that Cowden’s puts me at risk for. Glad to have found your blog!

    • Michelle says:

      I’m really sorry to hear about your genetic condition. It is very frightening to feel like you are at a high risk for something like this.

      Please let me know if you decide to have a prophylactic mastectomy. I had a PBM on my right breast and I know it was the right decision for me. I’d be happy to talk to you more about it if you are curious. It’s not too bad, I promise. My foobs look amazing already. πŸ™‚

  4. I don’t have a cancer but your main page really attracted me to view your blog. Just wanted to comment that I am so proud of you. I will also include you in my prayers. Keep fighting! *Hugs

  5. I found your blog through your Freshly Pressed post (congrats!) as a contributor to a blog for the Lombardi/CBCC Avon Walk Team in Washington, DC. You are so inspirational, and your story is one of the many reasons our team participates in the 2-day, 39.3-mile walk to build awareness and raise funds for research and to find a cure for breast cancer. I wish you continued wisdom, wit and good health during your journey.

  6. Katherine says:

    Also found your blog through Fresh Pressed, and it’s not lost on me that the first three people who commented on your About page were Katherine’s (or variants) who also have breast cancer. Not wanting to be the fourth, I decided to comment here. I found out on 1/2/13 that I have the same type of tumor you have (well, tumor(s) somehow there are 12-15 tumors in my 32A cup . . . ). I am a decade ahead of you, and thankfully have 2 sweet boys and a wonderful husband, but we’re fighting the same fight! Hang in there and I’ll check in on you from time to time.
    I started TCH last week and will have surgery this summer. We can do this!!!

    • Michelle says:

      Hi Katherine. I’m really sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I hope that your treatments go well. If you ever want to chat about surgery, let me know! I’d be happy to let you know what to expect. It really wasn’t so bad. πŸ™‚

  7. frostbitten8 says:

    Found your blog through freshly pressed and although I do not have cancer I did have a scare at only 18. I cannot even begin to imagine what your going though. I wish you only the best!!!

  8. eehbahmum says:

    Just stopped by because your title made me smile. Now your blog is making me cry (in a good way). Thanks for the emotional rollercoaster and congratulations on such talented writing.

  9. Fransi Weinstein linked to your blog and I’m glad I followed up on it. I’m sorry you are dealing with this! Life does not discriminate. One of our daughters battled BC in her 40’s, had a double mastectomy with recon and chemo to be on the safe side. Five years later she is thriving. Hang on tight and you will get there too.
    I thought you might be interested in these two recent blog posts of mine showing one woman’s amazing choice after her mastectomy.
    http://patriciasands.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/the-best-tattoo-i-have-ever-seen/
    and the follow-up
    http://patriciasands.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/beautiful-and-brave-tattoo-follow-up/

    You are a gifted writer with one hell of a positive attitude. Thank you for sharing your journey! I’m passing your link on, with pleasure!

  10. Hi… I’m nominating you for the “Beautiful Blogger” Award. I think your blog is funny and witty and I hope you win in this struggle against cancer… Kisses!

  11. Cinnamon says:

    Hi Michelle!

    I don’t have cancer; I stumbled on this blog from Thought Catalog, but I wanted you to know how much I admire your courage. Cancer is never easy; I lost a friend to leukemia 2 years ago when she was only 17, and now I tutor another child who has been suffering from cancer since he was 12. I am glad that you have people who love and support you; and I will always be rooting and cheering for you too no matter what! so keep you chin up, because I think you are the most gorgeous girl I have seen, with or without hair. πŸ˜‰

  12. Vlad says:

    Michelle – you’re a fabulous writer and you’re gonna kick this thing’s butt. Definitely. My little bro (25) was diagnosed with a ridiculously rare cancer 2 months ago. Ridiculously rare as in 100 cases reported each year. (“Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma”). Good news it’s typically slow growing. Bad news is, no-one has any idea what do with it since there are far too few cases for any kind of data or research.

    That said, we’ve read everything there is, are at Sloan-Kettering in NYC, with second opinions at Dana-Farber and MD Anderson, so I know we’re doing everything right.

    You probably already know this, but don’t be afraid to ask a million questions of your docs, to get second opinions if you have a desire to, etc. They are all part of the journey with you, and want you to get well. You can’t annoy them into doing a worse job, so do whatever you have to to feel as sure about everything as you can.

    Best of luck.

  13. SM says:

    Hello! I don’t have cancer, but I do share a similar passion – running. And I’ve had a medical condition too. Two and a half years ago, I got into a serious traffic accident, was ran over by a bus, and suffered a severe brain injury. I lost half my skull, and spent a hellish time learning to walk, talk, etc. all over again.

    Now, I’m back in university, and yes, running – will be competing in my first two half-marathons in about two months. (: So, all the best for your treatment and for whatever future runs you take part in! πŸ˜€

    And perhaps you would like to try dragonboating, if you can find a club/team near where you are. It’s an amazing sport. Pre-accident, I was in the university’s team, but I’m not supposed to do water sports now, so…yeah. DB is quite popular as a BC survivors’ sport, I seIe teams in pink all the time during regattas. They’re wonderful, cheerful, and inspirational people.

    Take care! You’re a strong person.

  14. Vickytoria says:

    Hey you – I really enjoyed your blog (erm …… can I say enjoyed it when it’s about cancer – well I think I am allowed because like you I am young and found out I had BC this Feb – had my evil boobs chopped off a months ago!!).

    You inspire me …… we are on very similar parts of the journey so I will keep reading and praying. The thing that annoys me the most is that I DON’T HAVE TIME TO HAVE CANCER – I’m just far tooo busy for this!!!!!.

    Take care lovely lady – with the new boobies ((yey))

  15. Tamoxifen is a bitch-from what my mom said the hot flashes were hell-but that stuff works. Good luck, girl.

  16. ass_enav says:

    I too am a cancerous lump and I love love loved all your posts and found myself relating to them and exclaiming out loud ‘me toooo!’ to an empty room. I especially loved the chemo gif post and ill be doing just that 12 hours from now (minus the port troubles). 90% chance is also my ‘survival rate’ and I’d just like to ask, does it bother you how they say ‘5 year survival rate’? I take it as – you will live 5 years, we are 90% sure of that.. afterwards, not so much. Positive thoughts are being sent in your direction πŸ™‚

    • Nah, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve never really thought of it that way. Generally speaking if it doesn’t get you in 5 years they pronounce you close to “cured” – so I think the relapse rates after that point drop off pretty significantly. But I pretty much can’t plan more than two days into the future anyway, so five years is pretty good! Good luck to you, fellow cancerous lump. πŸ™‚

  17. The Sanguine says:

    Wow. A strong blog here. I am awed by the positive energy that you sent to us. =)
    I don’t have cancer, I hope I won’t ever but I am writing a novel about a woman who has cancer and she obviously doesn’t take the news as well as you did.
    You’re awesome, Michelle. I just want to remind you that. =)

  18. Lauren says:

    Wow. We’re pretty much spittin’ images of each other. Literally exact size tumor, triple positive, double mastectomy (free boob job), same chemo regimen and treatment, and 25 years old. All I can do is find the humor in it all and unabashedly use the cancer card. Loved reading your positive humor in it all since I think some people think I’m borderline sick (mentally; everyone knows I am physically) with the self-debricating, I-have-cancer humor I’ve adopted. Round 5 of TCH this week. Almost. Done.

  19. Christina says:

    Please, don’t take offense but I’m hoping I don’t have to come back and read your blog. Tomorrow I go in for an MRI. I have dense breasts and they just need a better picture. Hmmmm, last year they had about the same story but it was the other breast and it was ok. What’s the chance of two “we’re just being cautious”. I heard the stress of waiting to find out is much better than the stress going through treatment so hopefully this is stress for nothing. Thanks for listening.

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