August 27, 2007

To all my friends and family:

Thank you all for the love and support as well as the positive thoughts and energy you are sending me. Because I can’t update each and every one of you as often as I would like, I’ve started this blog to share news (and eventually pictures) as I journey through the world of being a cancer survivor. Although it may seem premature to speak of being a survivor before I’ve even had surgery or any form of treatment, I believe that breast cancer is merely a bump in the road of my life. Being surrounded by survivors, including my mother and her sister, my stepmother and a cousin, as well as friends and many other women who have traveled this road, I find inspiration to make the most of the challenging days ahead.

The background:

I discovered a lump on my left breast on July 15 of this year, and after seeing my doctor and having mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies, was told on July 30 that of the two masses easily identified, one was cancerous and one was benign. However, when Brian and I met with my surgeon for the first time, she advised us that there were two suspicious areas shown on the mammograms – another one on my left breast, and one on my right. On August 14 I had an MRI which confirmed that there were indeed additional masses. More biopsies required!

Current status:

As of today, I have a bilateral ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy scheduled for August 29. If I’m lucky, the MRI images will allow the doctor to follow a “road map” to the lumps and get tissue for the pathologists to analyze. If I’m not lucky, they will not be able to locate the masses using the ultrasound, and I will then have to schedule two separate MRI-guided core needle biopsies (the dyes injected to highlight the masses are fairly toxic, and so limits the doctor to doing one breast at a time).

The known-to-be-cancerous lump was originally believed to be smaller than one centimeter, making it a good candidate for a lumpectomy – the second, benign, lump is very close, and would be removed at the same time. However, the MRI showed that the cancerous mass is actually much larger (roughly 3.5 centimeters), so even if it is the only cancer, I will have to have chemotherapy to shrink it in order to have a lumpectomy. If either of the two masses about to be biopsied are cancerous, we will have to consider much more extensive surgery.

The good news is that the lymph nodes appear normal on the MRI – while this isn’t a guarantee, it’s a good indication that the cancer has not spread.

I started physical therapy last week in an effort to build up some fitness prior to surgery and chemotherapy, so that I don’t end up even worse off than I am now. Robin is very happy that taking him for long walks is part of my exercise plan!

So far, my reaction to the whole thing is to find the humor in the situation and laugh about it – Brian has been extremely helpful in keeping me on the laugh track. I don’t think I would be coping so well without him. Please feel free to share some laughs with us.

I don’t expect to post updates every day, but as I find out more and set dates for surgery and treatment, I will let you know. I will also post updates on how I’m doing, or if someone shares a good joke ;-}

Love, Julie

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