My 80 year old mom (who is more like a 50 year old energy wise) was diagnosed with Breast Cancer during last week. It has been quite the emotional roller coaster ride for our entire family. We all felt overwhelmed by the thoughts “Here we go again!” But today I have good news to report as breast cancer goes.
After spending all day at the University of Michigan meeting with surgeons, radiologists, oncology, etc., mom got great news. Her cancer is Grade 1, very slow growing, a small 1.5 cm tumor, no lymph nodes, no chemo, 90% estrogen positive, and most likely no radiation, however, they won’t know that for sure until after surgery. She will have a wire-guided Lumpectomy in about 3 weeks with no drains. Mom was so relieved about that as she helped me with my drains and hated them! The surgeon indicated it was miraculous mom ever found the lump.
Mom’s parents lived into their 90s, aunts that lived to be 97, and no cancer ever in generations of family members on her paternal and maternal sides. Mom has eaten a healthy diet, been extremely active, and weighs within 10 pounds of her weight when she was in her 20s! If my mom got it, anyone is at risk. Well, we know that, but this makes it more clear to me!
The genetics counselor thinks it is rather a fluke that both of us got breast cancer, but it sure makes me wonder about environmental factors. I had far more reason to have breast cancer as my dad’s side of the family has cancer everywhere. But mom, they have no idea.
Here is what I can pass on to you that I have learned thus far.
1. Breast cancer odds greatly increase with age. As the nurse navigator conveyed to us, breast cancer amps up with age. She said that so many women feel like once they have reached 65 or 70, they quit having mammograms as they feel their odds go down. That is WRONG information. Some older women will tell you they don’t want to look for anything. Relay to them how early stage breast cancer is far easier to deal with than later stage! Know your facts and make every attempt to get the elderly women in your life to get their mammograms!
2. Be sure to be extra nice and appreciative to your Oncologist! You never know when you may need them again! Send them and their staff cards of thanks and appreciation, take simple gifts into their office like candy or cookies or vegetables, or whatever! It is meaningful to them. I made one call to my Oncologist, and he and his staff bent over backwards to help my mom. Make yourself memorable in a positive way to your Oncologist and his or her staff.
3. Remind your moms, grandmothers, aunts and older women in your life (well, younger ones too) to do regular breast exams. Show them how and what to do. My mom accompanied me to my last Oncology checkup in April. On the drive back home, I casually asked my mom if she was doing regular breast self-exams. She said she was not and had not done one in awhile. Later that week, she did one, and found an area of change in her breast which caused her alarm. That is what got her to the doctor! There was a lump underneath that breast change! Thank God she found it when she did!
4. One of the most difficult things about breast cancer is having to figure out what to do. Now that we have been through it, we know. That makes the journey much easier to help someone else. If you are emotionally up to it, reach out and help someone else just starting the journey. Your input will be invaluable to them.
That is what I’ve learned thus far! Thanks for letting me share! I appreciate all of my readers so much! Love to you all!
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