Is Awareness Just More Hype?

Pink Ribbon

An author that I follow on Facebook posted a link  to an online news article: Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Focus needs to shift to prevention

As with any research I do, I always try to “vet” my source. I was not able to find out much about the authoritativeness of this site.  It’s Natural News.com which appears to focus on natural living and natural health.  The author of the article is a freelance writer and certified holistic health coach.  She does reference the New England Journal of Medicine, but beyond that I’m still trying to verify the authoritativeness of the article as a whole.

The article suggests that Breast Cancer Awareness doesn’t help, but rather just makes women part of the “big business of cancer.”  It suggests that mammograms only create more worry for women and perhaps might be the cause of the increase in breast cancer.

“The promoters of “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” would have women believe there is little, if anything, that can be done to prevent the disease in the first place. Yet the chances for avoiding breast cancer, like so many cancers, can be greatly increased with a personal commitment to better health through dietary changes, exercise and an avoidance of toxins. The pervasiveness of a marketing campaign built on fraud and deceit has merely served to invoke fear in women.” (cut and pasted from the article in question)

My question for you is – do you think it’s all hype? Is it just another way for big business to make money off of fear?  Does it help or does it do more harm than good?  I know what I think and I will discuss this further in future posts. First though, being the good librarian that I am I want to do some additional research to support my opinions.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

I’m Back

*

I know it’s been months since I last posted on this blog. In fact it was just after I finished the Rocky Mountain Avon Walk. I didn’t meant to slack off so long.  Things got a little crazy after the walk. My husband had two surgeries – one on his right foot which put him in leg cast for a while. My youngest son fell off an ATV and broke his wrist – just before school started.  And I got a “new” job. (I went back to my previous school.)

While I still continued to participate in breast cancer awareness and survivor activities (did a couple of motorcycle fundraiser runs, the Komen 5K at the Garden of the Gods, and attended a survivor’s retreat) I seemed to be holding back. It was almost as if I was holding my breath – as if I was avoiding this blog and my relationship with cancer.  Part of me felt that if I did, then I could deny my fears about the next mammogram.

In July, I saw my oncologist.  At that time he told me that he felt he could say with relative certainty that I was cured.  While that was exactly what I wanted to hear, in the back of my mind I didn’t believe him.  I can be a sad sack at times, convinced that nothing ever goes right for me and I think I was worried that was the case with the cancer.

Yesterday was my first mammogram after finishing radiation treatments.  To say I was worried would be the understatement of the year.  In fact I was so worried that I wrote sub plans and lined up a substitute just in case the mammogram wasn’t clear and I was too devastated to go into school.  In the days before the appointment I even had nightmares and I was getting even less sleep than I normally get.  All that might seem rather silly, but I think it’s also normal.  I’m happy to be a survivor, but it’s all still new to me and I can’t help but worry that the survivorship is the dream and I’ll wake up to a horrible reality.  I’m slowly letting go of those fears, but it will take a while.  Actually, knowing me, it will take until that 5th year – when I stop taking the tamoxifen – the year when many breast cancer survivors truly feel they have won the battle.

Oh, yeah – yesterday’s mammogram was normal!  They gave me a copy of my written report. I carried it around in my purse all day yesterday. I almost felt like getting it framed and hanging it on the wall next to my Master’s Degree.

So what now?  As I’ve said before I do want to get more involved in breast cancer (actually any cancer) awareness campaigns and supporting those with cancer.  I’m not exactly sure how I will do that. I will continue to participate in breast cancer walks and other events.  I’ll continue to attend survivor meetings/workshops.  I’d like to find away to help military spouses fighting cancer.  I’d really like to be an advocate for cancer screenings.  After all, a mammogram saved my life.  My lumps were too small to be found during a physical exam.

For now, I’m just thanking God for the many blessings in my life and asking Him to show me how I can make a difference.

Tony and I have already registered for the 2012 Rocky Mountain Avon Walk and we convinced our good friend  Jim to join us a well.  I’m going to try to make this blog more consistent. I want to try to use it as a way to help others and provide information.

In the beginning the surgeon told me my battle with cancer would not be a foot race, it’s would be a marathon.  I’ve finished the first leg of the race – just four more to go.  I hope you’ll continue the race with me.

Garden of the Gods Komen 5K with friends Jolene and Kathy

Shadow Mountain Riders: Annual Save The Twins Ride

2011 Rocky Mountain Avon Walk – Day Two

Day Two before the walk.

After a not so good night’s sleep I was up and ready for a second day of walking.  The heat rash was still bothering me, but I was hoping the pink scrubs would be enough protection to get me through the day. Still not up to riding on the Harley, Jim gave me a quick ride over to the Wellness Village with strict instructions from Tony to go back to the medical tent so they could take another look at my blisters before the walk.

Breakfast with the Motorcycle Crew

Breakfast on Sunday was a hot breakfast – eggs and sausage. I know I ate, but I couldn’t tell you what it tasted like.  The gentleman wearing the hat is the one who graciously gave me his bandanna for my leg.

Fortunately, as I was eating breakfast I noticed “The Rack Pack” sitting at a nearby table and I was able to join up with them again for the beginning of the walk.  Our ill friend from the day before was feeling much better and had been cleared to walk.  One of the other girls though was having some serious problems with her asthma.  The medics told her she couldn’t do the entire 13 miles, but that she should be able to join her friends for the last mile or two.

And the second day of walking begins.

Everyone was moving quite a bit slower on Day Two, but for the most part everyone’s spirits seemed pretty good. I was a little distracted and missed Mile Marker 1. I had been taking pictures as we passed each marker.  Because I missed the marker for Mile 1, I was thinking that the first mile seemed really long and that was a sign that it was going to be a very long day.  I felt much better when reached Mile Marker 2 and I realized that the reason it seemed like such a long mile was that it was in fact two miles.

The path took us back to what had been the Margaritaville Breast Stop the day before.  We were all muttering under our breaths, hoping that once we crossed the bridge that we would be turning left (away from Copper Mountain) and not right.  Walking across the bridge was an experience. For some reason the bridge started swinging and all four of us thought we were either hallucinating or about to be very ill or both.  Once across the bridge, the path did turn to the left towards Breckinridge, which meant that most of Sunday’s walk was either level or just on a slight incline.

Mile 5

I know it was all in our heads, but it really did seem as though the miles were shorter on Day 2. And even though my legs felt pretty good I did notice that I was beginning to slow down again.  A few times I lost my group – but they were always good about waiting for me at the next stop.

Patrick

Somewhere after Mile 7, Patrick joined me. He said he was going to finish the day with me. He was rather excited about doing a “half, half-marathon.” That is the longest walk he’s ever done.  He said he wanted to be able to cross the finish line with me.  It’s a good thing I had my sun glasses on so no one would see the tears.  He’s such a good Battle Buddy.

Having him with me, made it easier for The Rack Pack to continue their walk. I just kept getting slower and slower. With Patrick with me, the other ladies were able to keep their pace without worrying about leaving me behind. We caught up with them at lunch. They were worried about me, but I told them I was ok – just slow. Part of it was just being tired. Part of it was I would stop from time to time to take a picture.  I wasn’t worried about making good time anymore. I just wanted to finish and the best way to do that was to just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Patrick was a big help as he carried my pack for me as well as my camera, only handing the camera back to me if I wanted to get a picture.

Mile 13

The closer we got to the finish line the more emotional I got. I was wearing my sunglasses, so Patrick couldn’t see.  Patrick doesn’t like it when I cry.  I had signed up for this walk while laying in bed recuperating from one of the surgeries. I’d talked a good game for about five months, but deep down I wasn’t totally convinced I could do it. Everyone else had faith in me, but I guess my faith in myself was not that deep.  It really took me by surprise that just five months after the second surgery and just about two months after completing radiation, I walked 39.3 miles! Wow!

When Tony met us right before the finish line and took my hand so he could cross the line with me there were even more tears.  Again, thank goodness for sun glasses so no one could see the tears.

For most of the walk, I had been walking on my own (physically), but I was never alone. There were times when I’d see someone in the crowd that reminded me of a friend.  (I swear I saw Sharon Kircher and Jolene Lofy about five times. Maybe I was seeing their doppelgangers.) There were a lot of people who supported me with donations, good advice, and encouragement. We did this walk together.

Just before the finish line.

Getting ready to cross the line.

Almost there.

The Finish Line.

I did it!

After crossing the finish line, I ran into The Rack Pack just as they were having their victory picture taken.  We took a couple of quick pictures together. I wish I had traded email addresses with them. Maybe I’ll see them again next year.

I picked up my T-shirt – “In It To End It Because I’m a Survivor ” and headed to the medical tent to have my new blisters treated.  Then I headed to a nearby stream to duck my feet in.  It was like sticking them in an bucket of ice, but oh did it feel good.  Then Tony and I headed over to the registration tent and signed up for the 2012 Walk. Tony was the 300th person to sign up.

Once all the walkers had crossed the finish line, it was time for the Closing Ceremony – another emotional experience.  They gather all the walkers together, then bring in the survivors who walked, and the the various volunteer crews.  This is also when they award grants to various facilities in Colorado that are involved in the fight against breast cancer.  The Rocky Mountain Walk raised $1.9 million! Almost $1 million of that was awarded to Colorado organizations. What an amazing accomplishment!

 

Once the Closing Ceremony ended it was time to head back to the hotel for another shower and a celebratory dinner and then a nap!  I treated myself to a Skinny Lavender Lemon Drop Martini and Tony treated himself to a Sam Adams. Patrick’s treat was a bacon cheeseburger. The boy cannot get enough burgers.  Jim and Laurel headed back to Colorado Springs in hopes of  beating traffic. I think I heard Jim saying something about getting his motorcycle endorsement so he could be on next year’s Motorcycle Crew.

And that’s how it ended. Tomorrow I will post some additional pictures that I took during the walk, but not all 300 plus pictures!

This was such an accomplishment for me and I can’t thank enough all of you who helped to make it happen. You are truly heroes in the fight against breast cancer. Thanks to you and all the others who are involved in this fight a cure is just around the corner.

Skinny Lavender Lemon Drop Martini

The Rack Pack

2011 Rocky Mountain Avon Walk Day One – Part Two.

"Breast" Stop

The first stop after the half way point on Day One was in the lovely town of Frisco.  I would like to go back and visit some time when I can explore the shops. (Though I should get serious brownie points for staunchly walking past the quaint little bookstore. It helped that it was across the streed.) This is where I connected with a lovely group of young ladies who called themselves “The Rack Pack.”  They let me join their group and I didn’t have to walk alone any more.

After this stop, the path crossed a bridge and then forked. To the left was Breckenridge and to the right was Copper Mountain. Day One’s path took us up Copper Mountain.  That was the roughest part of the walk and what made the rest of the day such a bear.  One of the ladies I was walking with began to feel a little under the weather. She began to slow down and I slowed my pace to match hers – not that I was walking that fast at this point.  It was pretty much a steady incline all the way to the turn-around point.  It was hot – even though we did pass a bank of dirty snow.  We finally made it to the turn-around point. By this time,  I noticed what I thought was a nasty sunburn on my left leg.  I was rather surprised as I had been conscious to use sunscreen. We had caught up with the other ladies and started back down.  My companion was really not feeling well. Her heart rate was elevated and she was showing signs of altitude sickness.  Turns out she had only had surgery six weeks prior to the walk and I was totally amazed that she was even doing the walk at all.  We stopped at one of the mini-rest stops and spent some time trying to convince her to let the medics take her back down rather than trying to walk it.  I was actually feeling ok until we stopped.  I wasn’t sure if it was the power of suggestion – you know when someone else gets ill it has a chain reaction effect?  It could have been the heat or it could have been the apple jolly rancher I had popped in my mouth.  I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel and I suspected that once we got moving I would feel better – though I had promised myself that if I didn’t I’d been turning right around and have a chat with the medics.

I was right. Once our fellow walker had agreed to let the medics take her back and the rest of us continued walking I began to feel much better.  By the time we made it back to the Margaritaville stop we were all moving a little slower.  Someone said that the last six miles of the walk on the first day were the worst. They were right.

Mile 20

We look pretty peppy in this picture, but I think that’s just because we were happy to have made it up and back down Copper Mountain.  Besides, there were only six miles to go. Yippee!

As the afternoon wore on, my leg got worse. We kept spraying it with sunscreen, but that really wasn’t helping. Along around mile 24 it was burning so much that I had to slow down and I lost my walking companions. I was bad and pulled out my iPhone and sent Tony a text. I was hoping he could hook me up with a wet cloth I could wrap around my leg for the remainder of the walk.

Before I got to Tony, I passed one of the other members of the Motorcycle Crew.  He very kindly took one of the bandannas off his bike, poured water all over it and gave it to me to tie around my leg. My leg still hurt, but at least it didn’t have the sun beating down on it anymore.

Mile 25

Just after mile 24 I passed an outdoor wedding. I’m sure they loved having a punch of bedraggled walkers traipsing by their ceremony.

Before mile 25 I met Patrick on the path. He told me Tony was at the next intersection. I said great, I was ready to sit down. Patrick told me that Dad said that wasn’t a good idea. I needed to keep moving until I got to the Wellness Center.  He probably saved his Dad a bit of grief. If I had not been forewarned and had tried to sit down at that stop only to have Tony tell me I couldn’t, I’d have probably hit him. As it was I did threaten to hit someone with my very heavy, every expensive camera when they  told me (jokingly) that since I had illegally texted while on the path, I had to go all the way back to the hospital rest stop (just a bit before mile 24) and retrace my steps.  He needs a little instructive training on just what is funny and what is not.

Mile 26

By the time I reached Mile 26 and the Wellness Village, not only was my leg burning (turns out it wasn’t a sunburn, but a nasty case of heat rash), I had three blisters on the same toe and my muscles had decided they hated me.

Tony met me at the entrance to the Wellness Village and walked me over to the Massage Tent. He got me on the list for a ten minute table massage (which is probably the only reason I was able to walk on Sunday), helped me get my shoes off and sent Patrick off in search of ice for my legs. The right leg has a slight case of heat rash, too.  Meanwhile, Jim made a trip to Walmart to find a pair of lightweight, big legged sweats for me to wear on Sunday. The pants I had planned to wear would have rubbed too much against the rash.  There were no sweats in my size, but he did find a pink pair of hospital scrubs which are the most comfortable pants I’ve worn in a long time.

Waiting for my massage.

While waiting for the massage I began to shake. I think it was a combination of my muscles screaming at me and the fact that now that the sun was going down and I was sitting in the shade, I was truly cold.

Once I got my massage (and the massage therapist said I needed to have a full massage soon – wonder if Tricare would  have paid for one if I had gotten her to write me a prescription?), Tony walked me over to the medical tent to have my blisters treated.  Blisters have to be popped so that of course meant NEEDLES.  But really, after the surgeries, blood tests and tattoo, I’m much better about needles than I used to be.  The medic spent most of the time she was treating my blisters telling me to drink more water and to be sure I ate dinner whether I wanted to or not. I really did not want to eat dinner, which is why it’s a good thing I had Tony, Jim and Laurel to look after me.  When the medic was done, Jim brought the car around – there was no way I was going to be able to get my legs to cooperate and let me get on the back of Tony’s Harley.  We got back to the hotel and  I crawled into the shower. It’s a good thing there were no hidden cameras. I was cold, but my legs were very sensitive to heat of any kind so taking a shower was an acrobatic experience.  When I finished I hobbled across the hotel room and crawled into bed – trying to figure out what to do with my legs so that nothing was touching the rash.  No hot tub for me.

Meanwhile, the rest of the gang had run out and picked up dinner. Patrick, Jim and Laurel ate out by the hot tub, but I couldn’t bring myself to hobble out there. Tony stayed with me – to be sure I didn’t fall asleep without eating my dinner.  And that was how the first day ended.  I was exhausted beyond belief, but I was a little proud of myself too. That was the farthest I had ever walked. I’d survived the first day. I refused to think about Day Two.  As Scarlett would say, “I’d think about that tomorrow.”

Check back tomorrow for Day Two’s adventures.

2011 Rocky Mountain Avon Walk – Day One – Part One.

Day One Before the Walk

At The Opening Ceremony

Day One of the walk started off chilly. I had picked up a nice pink and black walking outfit with loose fitting pants. Knowing that the mornings could be quite cold, I added my Harley Davidson Breast Cancer hoodie and thought I was set – until it came time to head out to the Opening Ceremonies. Tony was taking me on the Harley.  Because it was so cold, I had to borrow his rain gear so I wouldn’t freeze on the ride over.  There are no pictures of me dressed that way – just picture a burnt Stay Puff Marshmallow Man (or woman I guess.)

When the Motorcycle Crew arrives at the Opening Ceremonies it’s a big deal. They ride in formation while everyone cheers and claps.  The Motorcycle Crew is a great team – and I’m not saying that because Tony was part of it.  The energy and support they show for the walkers through out the weekend is amazing. Their job is to help direct traffic where the walk crosses with traffic. But they do so so much more.

We started off with a light breakfast. I decided for this walk to not fret too much (or at least to attempt to not fret too much) about calories.  My weight loss still feels very new to me and I often fret about calories.  Not being able to have my cell phone on during the walk, meant that I couldn’t run the pedometer app on my iPhone and wouldn’t really know how many calories I was burning. Of course because it’s an app on my phone, it’s not entirely accurate – but it’s close.  The night before Tony had run out and picked up a pedometer for me so I could track my actual mileage. The walk for the first day is 26.2 miles – but between walking around the Opening Ceremonies, the lunch and rest stops, you actually walk a few more miles than 26.

Tony had loaned me one of his camelbacks so I wouldn’t have to carry a water bottle, though I did have an empty water bottle in my Avon pack for getting Gatorade at the rest stops.  There were several rest stops along the way. Not only were they needed for bathroom and rest breaks, but they helped break up the long walk.  Without being able to listen to a book while walking that left my mind open to wander and think of all sorts of things. And as you all know for me that can be dangerous.

A few people did strike up conversations along the way, partly because Avon Walkers are very friendly in general and partly because of the sign on the back of my pack.

Just a few of the people for whom I was walking.

These are just a few of the people in my life that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Later, I wished I had added Tony’s mom, Patty.  She died from ovarian cancer.  Her mom is a breast cancer survivor. Since the same gene that can mutate and cause breast cancer is the same one that causes ovarian cancer, Tony and I have wondered if maybe if his mom had that gene.  I added myself to the list as an afterthought. It seemed rather vain, but the truth is if I were not a survivor I might not have ever signed up for this walk.

The “and Me” on the sign is what caused most people to strike up a conversation as they asked questions about how long of a survivor (just a few months) and shared their own stories.  I met a woman quite a bit older than me that was a ten year survivor and this was her tenth walk. There were walkers walking for friends, sisters, moms, daughters and spouses.  Everyone had a story.

I set a pretty good pace for the morning portion of the walk. I might have been a little faster, but of course I had my camera and often stopped to take a picture.  I did discover than I can take a picture while still moving, but there were a few landscape/flower shots that did require that I actually stop and think about the shot rather than just pressing the button.

The only wildlife I saw during the walk.

There were a few times I wish I’d had my zoom lens, especially when I saw the sailboats and kayaks on the lake.  But, over all it was a good decision to have left it in the hotel room. My Nikon is a big camera without the long lens.  Even though I had trained while wearing my camera backpack (holds both cameras, flash, the long lens with room for my iPad, a book or two and a water bottle) after wearing it up the Manitou Incline, I had decided it was too heavy for the walk. And it would have been, especially paired with the camel back.

I loved seeing, Tony, Patrick, Jim and Laurel at the intersections and cheering stations.  Tony always had a hug or kiss for me (which of course set off a chorus of comments from my fellow walkers) and Patrick was always ready with a hug as well.  Jim and Laurel made sure I didn’t forget to reapply sunscreen.  Knowing I would see them along the trail gave me small little goals to reach along the walk.

Meeting Tony at one of the intersections on Day 2.

With Patrick at the Day One Lunch Stop

The lunch stop on Day One came earlier than expected. It was well before lunch and before the halfway point.  I was grateful for a chance to rest, but I didn’t really want lunch. Fortunately, I had Laurel to look out for me and make sure I did eat something.  Laurel is an Assistant DA and if one is smart they do what she says.  Once lunch was over it wasn’t long before I reached the halfway point – the Wellness Village.  This was the stop I had been fretting about. I had to be medically evaluated and cleared before I would be given the option of continuing on for the full 26.2 miles.  I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself and not be physically fit enough to do it.  It wasn’t just a matter of being fit, there was also altitude sickness to worry about.  Keystone is about 3000 feet higher than Colorado Springs.

When they cleared me to continue the walk, I almost did the happy dance, but I restrained myself and just continued on.

Day One Halfway Point

I’ll stop here at the halfway point, as the post is already over 1,000 words.  I’ll post more about Day One either later today or tomorrow. There’s just so much to tell. I had actually taken my laptop to the walk with me, because I mistakenly thought I would feel like posting at the end of each day. Ha! Even if I had had the energy, I’m not sure I would have been coherent enough to make a post.

Check back later for more about Day One’s adventures.

Rocky Mountain Avon Walk 2011 Pre-Event Recap

Opening Ceremony

This past weekend I participated in my first ever Rocky Mountain Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  I don’t know if I have the words to describe it. It was amazing.

I took tons of pictures, seriously, over 300. I wont’ drown you in pictures. Instead, I thought I would break the even down into thirds, the Event-eve, Day 1 and Day 2.

I finished my fundraising the night before and so I had to check in at Event-Eve to get my wrist band and a tent assignment if I wanted to camp out in the pink tents. (I opted for a hotel instead.) I’m glad that I went to the Event-Eve. I needed another pair of proper walking socks and an appropriate hat to wear during the walk.

I was feeling a little overwhelmed. The place was very crowded with lots of walkers and crew members.  On the drive to Dillon from Colorado Springs, I had begun to doubt whether I could do it. Truth be told, I had been experiencing doubt for a couple of weeks. A friend had expressed concern over whether I would be able to do it since none of my training walks had even been half the first day’s distance.  The radiation treatments had really played havoc with my training schedule, but up until just before the event I had convinced myself that attitude was a big part of the training and that I could do it.

I was also feeling very grateful.  As I said, I had finished my fundraising just in time.  I saw several people standing around with signs asking for donations or manning tables of merchandise to raise the funds need to complete their goal.  My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who supported my efforts. I couldn’t have done it without you. I was also grateful to the woman who checked me in – she gave me a big hug when she found out that it had been less than six months since my surgery and just about two months since I had completed radiation.

I didn’t put together a team for this walk. I was uncomfortable asking others to make a commitment to not only walk almost 40 miles, but to raise $1,800 as well.  I wasn’t too worried about walking alone. I had planned to listen to a book on Play-a-way to help pass the time. When I checked in, I found out that I wasn’t supposed to wear headphones during the walk (they wanted walkers to be able to hear the bicyclists that would be not so graciously sharing the path with us over the weekend.)  So that had me a little concerned.

I knew I wasn’t really alone. In addition to a lot of love and support from friends and family, my wonderful husband Tony, my youngest son, Patrick and our good friends Jim and Laurel Byrnes accompanied me to the Rocky Mountains. Tony was part of the Motorcycle Crew. Patrick had wanted to walk with me, but you have to be 16 to do the walk, so he then applied to be part of the Youth Crew, but was not selected. He then asked if he could come along and cheer.  Jim & Laurel agreed to drive Patrick to all the cheering spots.  I think Jim had such a good time that he might be on the Motorcycle Crew for next year.

Motorcycle Crew

I opted for staying at a hotel rather than camping in the pink tents at the Wellness Village for a couple of reasons.  One, I don’t sleep well as it is. I sleep even worse when I’m not at home. I figured a hotel would hard enough to get a good night’s sleep in and didn’t want to even bother with trying to get a good night’s sleep in a cold tent. The second reason was that the hotel had a hot tub. I figured I would need it after the first day for sure. (Too bad I didn’t get to use it on the second day – but that’s a story for the next post.)

After a nice dinner at the Red Mountain Grill, the Archer gang went back to hotel for a pre-event soak in the hot tub for me and a pre-event cigar for Tony, Jim & Laurel. (Oh and Patrick got to act like a fish in the hotel pool.)  I thought I was hiding my doubts rather well. I was very calm, but Jim noticed and told me not to worry, I’d be fine. I just smiled, not certain he was right (he was), but I appreciated his faith in me.

View from the hotel.

Pre-walk Soak.

Check back tomorrow for a recount of day two.

Asymetrical Is Normal, But I Might Get Free Lingerie!

As I mentioned earlier this week, my BCN (breast care navigator) was concerned about how swollen I still am, especially since she could tell even though I was fully clothed.  And of course, now I’m convinced I’m hideously misformed/lopsided.  On her advice I called my surgeon. He was out of town, but one of his associates made time in his schedule for me.  (How many men have I now exposed myself to – 13 or more?)

Anyway, this new doctor says that everything looks ok, especially for having only completed radiation less than two months ago.  My skin looks good (thanks to Dove for Extra Sensitive Skin and Elite Lotion) and the incision looks great, too.  Yes,  my left breast is much bigger than the right one. It’s also firmer (which if the other one matched it, might be a nice side effect from the surgery, but think of this way – a fully inflated balloon sitting on the shelf next to one that has lost half the air – yep that happens when you get old.)

According to the doctor, it’s nothing to be concerned about at this point.  Most likely it’s due to a ceretoma (sp?), fluid in the cavity created by the lumpectomy. He didn’t really give me any idea of when, if ever, it would return to normal or something close to normal. So, I guess I’ll just have to deal with walking around very lopsided.  At least it hasn’t impacted my balance.

The good news is that the nurse told me that Tricare will pay for professionally fitted bras so that I can have proper support. Not as good as getting a boob job, but I needed new bras anyway.  After the horrible experience I had at Macy’s in February when I tried to find a properly fitted bra before radiation, I had been putting off going for another fitting.  According to the nurse, Tricare will refer me to someone who specializes in providing bras for women who’ve had breast cancer.

I was afraid that I might have been worried for nothing and the doctor would be irritated with me for wasting his time (and based on past experiences, if the doctor had been an Army doctor, instead of an Air Force doctor that just might have been the case. )  Better safe than sorry, as they say.  I’d rather my doctor smile and tell me I’m worrying too much than have him shake his had sadly and tell me I waited too long to have something checked.

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