Yeah, so, I have breast cancer again.
I know what you are thinking, “Sonia gets the nicest gifts for Christmas.”
Let me just say right from the start, I’m going to be OK. Cancer is scary, but I’m going to be fine. I have been diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 2. This is a little different than the last time, which was ductal carcinoma in situ grade 1 with small invasive areas. This time around it’s more invasive ductal carcinoma with some DCIS areas, which are also intermediate grade. In other words, the cancer is a little more aggressive this time.
So, let’s start with the good news: The mass is very small, about 1 cm, and the doctors think we have caught it early. There is no evidence that the cancer has spread. I had a MRI, and there were no surprises and the lymph nodes looked good.
The bad news is it means I’m getting a mastectomy of my right breast. Yep, I’ll have a matching set of fake knockers. Wheee.
The surgery is scheduled for Wednesday, January 7. I realize that this sounds like an aggressive procedure for a small mass, but the fact that I’ve developed an invasive cancer while taking tamoxifen, which is an anti-hormone therapy that is supposed to prevent this very thing, is concerning to me and my doctors. I don’t wanna fuck with cancer. So long, sickly boob! Honestly, I’m starting to think that my breasts are trying to kill me. And I just want to be healthy and around for a long time for my boys. After the mastectomy, assuming it hasn’t spread, I shouldn’t have to do radiation or chemo, which is a good thing.
When will I know for sure if the breast cancer spread? Excellent question, super smarty! During the mastectomy, the doctor will do a sentinel node biopsy, which will tell us if the cancer has spread. They did it last time, too.
Do you want to hear my breast cancer origin story? OK, let’s do this …
A few weeks ago I went in for my annual mammogram. During the mammogram there was some bloody discharge from my nipple (Sorry, gross, I know). That has never happened, and it was very upsetting. I got the “I’m sure it’s just a cyst” line from the tech, and I replied, “I’ve heard that one before.”
When I got home I emailed my oncologist and my breast surgeon about it. It’s time to get the band back together, I said. The oncologist gave me my results that following Monday, saying that my mammogram was clean and no cancer was detected. He said sometimes bleeding happens, and if it continued happening I should contact him again.
My breast surgeon disagreed: “Bleeding is never OK. Anything with you is guilty until proven innocent.” I made a followup appointment with her that Friday, and she scheduled an ultrasound for the following Monday. During the ultrasound they found a small mass, and they did a biopsy right on the spot. The day I got the biopsy, I came home to a letter from Kaiser telling me that my mammogram was clean and no cancer was detected. (#mammogramfail) The biopsy results came in the day after Christmas, and well, you know the rest.
I’m not going to lie to you guys. I’m really upset that I have to go through a mastectomy all over again. I’m sorry I have to put mighty, mighty good man David through it. I’m sorry I have put family and friends through it. It makes me feel like a high maintenance pain in the ass and a burden, which is a nightmare to me. I hate to be a burden on people. So, on top of having cancer I have other issues I should deal with such as “why do I think asking for help makes me a burden” and “why didn’t my dad hug me more when I was a kid.”
Of course, the hardest part of all of this is my son, Calvin. I’m trying to organize everything to make my recovery as easy on Calvin and David as possible. I want everything to be as normal as possible for Calvin. The thing that really upsets me, and makes me cry every time I think of it, is that Calvin is a hugger. He’s only 3. He’s not going to understand why Mommy can’t hug for a few weeks. It sucks. But I’m doing what I need to do so I will be around for him to hug for a long time. I’m trying to squeeze in all the extra hugs I can right now, and I’m sure I’ll make up for lost time when I’m healed.
You know what is so disturbing to me is there is nothing on the mammogram that hints at cancer. If I hadn’t emailed my breast surgeon, if I just took the oncologist word for it, I would be walking around with a small piece of invasive cancer that we wouldn’t have discovered until – I don’t know – it got bigger or spread or became grade 3 or 4. That is some seriously scary shit!
Ladies, it’s important to get mammograms, but it’s also important to do self exams. Not every breast cancer screening technique is 100%, but if you do them all then you have a really good chance to catching breast cancer early. I saw my oncologist six months ago, and there was no hint of breast cancer. Today, I have breast cancer. I hope we caught it early enough.
I want to give a shout out to my family and friends who have already been shouldering my burden with me the past few weeks. Upon hearing the diagnosis, my friends quickly organized a meal train for us, which is a huge relief for me. I feel incredibly lucky to have such awesome people in my life. Whenever I think that I’m a stupid asshole, I remember that I have a lot of really incredible friends, so I must not be that bad.
Me: “I’m sorry your wife won’t have any real boobs anymore.”
David: “As long as the doctors don’t remove your brain, we’re cool.”
So, yeah, I think that’s it for now. This isn’t really how I planned to kick off 2015, but I’m looking forward to being cancer-free very soon. The recovery period could be as long as three to four weeks. That’s a lot of time camped out on the couch, so along with good vibes, positive thoughts and prayers, I’m accepting TV and movie recommendations.
Also, the Sonia’s Boob Twitter account is back. If you want to hear about my progress the day of the surgery (awww, that’s so sweet), you can check the Sonia’s Boob account, and David will update it to keep everyone abreast of the situation. Wah wah. Abreast.