Monday, February 09, 2015

A Farewell to Bras

So some of you may know that my little sister was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma in late October of 2014. She has been amazing through her chemotherapy and her tumor is shrinking nicely. When she was diagnosed, I was encouraged to go get a mammogram, so early this year, I did.

My baby sister is totally fancy.

I had my mammogram on a Tuesday in early January. That Wednesday, they called me back for some magnified scans on my left breast. It seemed that there were just a few micro calcifications present, and they wanted a closer look. So I had that done as well. The radiologist who reviewed my magnified scans decided that since my little sister had breast cancer, that they would go ahead an biopsy the spot, it did not look "highly suspicious" and I got her to admit that if my sister hadn't had breast cancer, they would have taken a "wait and see" approach.

So I got to show up the next week for a stereotactic needle biopsy. I will not lie to you, it was one of the more horrible medical experiences I have ever had. They had me lie face down on a table with my breast dangling through a hole while they smashed my boob and programmed the computer to stab me in just the right spot. It was done under local anesthesia, so I really felt no pain from the actual procedure, what really made it suck was that the table I was lying on was not well padded, and the hole was way too big, so my lower ribs were being crushed the entire time, and my arms were going numb, but I COULD NOT MOVE OR THE COMPUTER WOULD STAB ME IN THE WRONG PLACE. So I summoned my favorite coping mechanism, the "Robot Who Can Not Feel Pain", and this time I also programmed her to enjoy strange medical procedures. It totally worked until they informed me they needed to go in for just one more sample and would squirt in a little more lidocaine, which my nerve addled brain decided would immediately stop my heart (complete nonsense) so I had a mild panic attack which set off my adrenaline, which sparked an even bigger panic attack ("why am i getting an adrenaline rush?!?!?!?!"). I talked myself down, turned the robot back on, and made it through the rest of the procedure. I'm pretty sure they were just out of lollipops, because i TOTALLY earned one. 

Partial results came back the next day (a Friday), "There were some abnormal cells". So I ask, "what does abnormal cells mean?" To which the radiologist replies "cancer". Well FUCK. Just say cancer if you mean cancer.

See those tiny white specks in the red circle?
That's what cancer looks like...
Also, that's what an X-ray of my boob looks like.
You are welcome.

The results turned up a triple POSITIVE 2mm "single locus" of intermediate grade ductal carcinoma in situ.  This means that the cancer was still in the ducts (not freely roaming around) and it was growing not fast but not slow. It has hormone receptors and the unfortunate HER2 receptors, but I'll take the positive hormone receptors. They also turned up a 1mm low grade lobular neoplasia. The fucking thing was sitting directly behind my nipple which meant I would at very least lose the nipple (boobs without nipples are still boobs right??) Lobular neoplasia means that I am now at a much higher risk of developing cancer in my other breast as well. So guess what? I'm cutting the traitors off.

We had a good run, my boobs and I. I can never thank them enough for feeding both of my children for 2 years each. They have nicely, if not excessively, filled out my tops since I was a teenager. But seriously ladies, cancer? Fucking cancer? It's time for us to break up. This won't eliminate my risk, but it sure as hell reduces it.

I am scheduled for a double mastectomy on February 12th. That's in just a few days. My guts have been in turmoil ever since that first call back on my mammogram. The good news is that I can be the trial run of the surgery for my sister, I am just that thoughtful! I am anxious to get this over with, and terrified by what else they will find hiding in my overly abundant breast tissue. I won't get the complete results until after the surgery. They will check my lymph nodes with a sentinel node biopsy at the time of the surgery, and hopefully we will find that my little tiny DCIS has stayed put.

I'll be having a rebuild at the time of the surgery. They claim they will put my boobs back even better than before and they promise I will never have to wear a bra again, and seriously, they better not be lying, because that is a major silver lining in this whole thing for me... and I get nipple tattoos. Who's jealous? Seriously, google nipple tattoos.

We are hoping that after the surgery, there will not be much else to do treatment wise, but I won't meet with the oncologist until they've rummaged through my breast tissue. If I do need further treatment, I should be spared chemotherapy, and may instead receive hormone treatments. I just have to wait and see. Wait and see is my favorite...

I'm nervous, and scared, and super duper pissed off, but mostly I am in awe of how my little sister has been dealing with this since October. This shit is scary. My stomach hurts constantly. It's hard to not see everything I feel in my body as a sure sign of more cancer. It's hard not to worry that I'll miss one of those major events my girls are sure to have in the future. I'm being tested for a genetic factor that could explain our family's recent flurry of cancer, and should i test positive for any of those, I'll get to have a hysterectomy as well. At which point I will cease to be a woman and can therefore use whichever restroom I want, which is actually awesome, because ladies take WAY too long to pee.

Me after finishing Dam to Dam spot on my goal time of 2:30,
not yet three months after my Bankhart Repair on my right shoulder.
I'm running the pants off this thing this year,
current half marathon PR stands at 2:20...

All I can do is keep moving forward. I plan to get up out of that hospital bed running (or at least briskly walking) and get back to work as soon as I can. I WILL run Dam to Dam (Half marathon 13.1 miles) again this year, i did promise my surgeon not to run for six weeks, but there is plenty of cross training I can do in the meantime. The race is in late MAY, which will give me about 8 weeks after I get the all clear to get trained up, AND I've asked for faster boobs, so look for a PR people. Before you declare me insane, remember I did it last year after my shoulder surgery, AND hit my goal time.

Excellent example of vintage motivational cat poster.

I am not looking forward to my new hobby of hanging out in oncology for the next five years, but I am very hopeful that I will put this stupid bullshit behind me. You can ask me questions about my cancer, I might answer you. My answers lately have been sarcastic and snarky, so try not to get your feelings hurt. If you want to pray for me or any of that, feel free, but promise to add my sister in as well,  her treatment is way more intense than mine. And seriously, SERIOUSLY, anyone who tags me in one of those breast cancer memes gets immediately blocked and unfriended and I might tee-pee your house, in a totally mean way, like a "I might also put sugar in your gas tank" kind of way... The only encouraging posts I am accepting are vintage motivational cat posters.

Also, don't feel bad if I didn't tell you until now. I barely told anyone, and honestly I still wouldn't have told you if I thought you wouldn't notice me running around with smaller perkier boobs, which you will totally notice, because I'm only wearing tube tops from here on out.


Dawn Bilyeu said...

Cancer is such a dick. I’m super unhappy to hear you have to hang out with him. Don’t get me wrong, braless, perky boobs are the best, but still…what a fucking dick. My brother got three different forms of cancer a little over 7 years ago—skin cancer, lung cancer, and soft tissue cancer. He didn’t get the perky new boobs out of the deal, but he did get a robot leg (which his daughters think is pretty cool). Outside of an “unusually benign” lump in his arm (gotta love that cancer lingo), he has been cancer free since. I know way too many young people with cancer these days. The good news is that younger often equals more resilient. And you are a fighter, Lara. Your sister also has that fighter glow in her eyes. You have such a great family of support, but I’m sending you a hug from the west coast. Even though it is you on that table being squished and poked, we are all here for you whenever you need it.

Dawn said...

That last sentence didn't happen the way I meant it to, but we can indeed poke and squish you whenever you feel like you are not being poked and squished enough. Which is all the time, right?

Adriana said...

GOD DAMN IT this fucking blows. But if anyone can kick the shit out of cancer it's you. If I could give you my boobs, I would.

Anonymous said...

Lara so sorry to hear you have the nasty c word also. You and your sister are both sweethearts and fighters. Kelly with the killer smile always. Praying for you both. This is Don N. your cousin. Telling ya that cause I don't know how to do an identity. Hang in there and the both of you fight like hell.

Donna said...

Okay...I typed up a great comment & had to log into my account, so, I totally lost it all!!!

Here's a short version of what I said:
Sorry, Cancer sucks, get the fuck away, blah blah blah...

I'm all kinds of jelly about you getting new boobs & tatted nipples...blah blah blah

I may have also mentioned that I wanted to go with you so we could ask for a BOGO job!!!!

Donna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna said...

Seriously though, you should be a breast cancer motivational speaker! You have such a great outlook on this & on life!!! I am praying for both of you!!!!

elaineb said...

Can you get kittens tattooed instead of nipples? I'm just saying, it might be a great time to improve upon the design.

Linda A Newsom said...

Just to let you know that Uncle Jim and I are so, so sorry that you have to go through this. We know you and Kelly are strong and want you to know that you are both on our minds and in our hearts as you travel this scary path. We won't bug you, but we do care very much, and will expect that you will let us know if we can ever be of help.

Love and hugs. . . Aunt Linda

Jaime said...

Lara, you are amazing. In a way, your sister may have saved your life. she will love holding that over you. hahahaha. but seriously. prayers definitely, and that you hold tight to that strong attitude. i will be thinking of you tomorrow and often.