My (Rosabella's) pink ribbon | High Sierra Topix  

My (Rosabella's) pink ribbon

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My (Rosabella's) pink ribbon

Postby Rosabella » Tue Apr 04, 2006 4:16 pm

Hi All!

This month marks a really important milestone in my life, and I’d like to share my story.

I had been faithful about getting my mammograms every year, so in the fall of 2000 I wasn’t too concerned when I found a marble-size lump in my breast. Nothing had shown up in my last mammogram, so I thought it must be just a cyst; it had to be… there’s no history of cancer in my family. I went to my doctor mid-December and mentioned it to him; he checked it and recommended a biopsy. A week before Christmas I got the results – it was a tumor… and it was malignant. (Merry Christmas :( )

With the backlog of surgeries due to the holidays, I had a couple weeks to wait… and wait. I can tell you from personal experience that Dr. Kuebler-Ross’s five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) are not experienced only by the dying – we go thru each of these same steps when dealing with any major trauma. There was a lot of “why me?” “This isn’t fair - I’ve always taken care of myself, stayed in shape, and didn’t abuse my body!”… and lots of tears.

But I did get to the point of acceptance and ready to do what I needed to do to heal myself. I read a lot, swinging from one extreme to the other while considering every option; my surgeon was so understanding and patient and discussed each of these options with me. I was really lucky to have such a great team of Doctors (University of Washington and Seattle Cancer Care Alliance) We decided to plan on doing a sentinel node biopsy (to test the lymph nodes for metastasis) and just a “lumpectomy” for the tumor. Of course, this was all subject to change depending on what they found during surgery, but the surgery went as planned and there was no trace of cancer in the lymph nodes.

A couple weeks later I started the series of radiation treatments. This was NO picnic, but preferable by far over chemotherapy treatments. I finished my radiation in April of 2001. I’ve been on Tamoxifen since then and will be switching to a new medicine this month.

So, here I am… five years later. I’ve got a couple 2-inch “battle scars” and four tiny tattoos (radiation markers) the size of the period at the end of this sentence but they don’t bother me. On the contrary, I see them as symbols of how lucky I was (and am) and as a daily reminder that every day is precious and not to be taken for granted. I see my Oncologist every six months and she says I’m doing great! I do know I was very lucky – so many women have had to go through devastating surgeries and chemotherapy poison… or worse.

So to end this (and ultimately the purpose of this thread) I just want to emphasize to you, your wives, daughters, mothers, etc. how important self-examinations are. I had assumed that my mammograms would find any and all problems, but it missed this one. Mammograms are a wonderful tool; it’s just not the only tool. ….and life is great!

:heart:
Rosie



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Postby Rockman » Tue Apr 04, 2006 5:55 pm

Right On, Rosabella! :)
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Postby copeg » Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:30 pm

Wow...I'm speechless Rosie. My stomach started to churn as I read this. I admire your courage, which is more than I can possibly imagine.
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Postby ERIC » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:28 pm

Excellent post, Rosie.

Self-examinations are critical. And I was shocked to learn not too long ago that lumps are more commonly discovered by intimate partners than by the women who have them. :unibrow: It’s very important that women inform their partners and make sure they too are educated on what abnormalities to look out for.

This message brought to you by Eric's wife, Megan... :nod:
Last edited by ERIC on Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby BSquared » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:40 pm

Thanks, Rosie!
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Postby Snow Nymph » Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:29 pm

Great post! I can totally relate to this! I didn't go thru as much as you, though.

I had an abnormal mammogram last June. I went thru the “why me?” “Not fair - I take care of myself . . . " too. I had skipped a few years of getting mammograms before, thinking it couldn't happen to me. I didn't have any lumps, but the last mammo showed up as an abnormal. So it doesn't always appear as a lump. I had ADH, which is Abnormal Ductal Hyperplasia. I had to wait forever for an open date for the surgery, and finally had a lumpectomy in January of this year. 10 days later I went in for a checkup and was told "you're a free woman". I also have a 1.25" scar which is ugly, but I'm getting used to it. I won't be skipping anymore appointments.
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Postby Allyn » Tue Apr 04, 2006 8:57 pm

Nice to hear that things are going well for you! Glad to hear it seems to be out of your system. I look forward to running into you with my brother (vaughnm) this summer on the JMT.

On a side note, you guys need to make sure you take care of your cancer prone areas (prostrate) as well. I had abnormal levels last year and was shocked to hear that a 1 in 5 chance of getting cancer down there was not so bad. A 20 percent chance in my opinion is not good odds! I have my 1 year check up in a couple of months after a negative biopsy last year so will keep my fingers crossed as well.

Thanks for the update Rosie!
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Postby krudler » Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:08 pm

Whoa...!

My wifes sister was just going throught the same thing. You guys are awesome.
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Postby ERIC » Tue Apr 04, 2006 9:29 pm

Allyn wrote:On a side note, you guys need to make sure you take care of your cancer prone areas (prostrate) as well. I had abnormal levels last year and was shocked to hear that a 1 in 5 chance of getting cancer down there was not so bad. A 20 percent chance in my opinion is not good odds! I have my 1 year check up in a couple of months after a negative biopsy last year so will keep my fingers crossed as well.


Yep. As I understand it, anyone over the age of 30 should be getting that checked out once a year. A buddy of mine had prostrate cancer when he was 28 (YIKES! Thankfully, he's doing ok now...), so I've been traumatized into getting checked out since I was 25. Not the most comfortable thing to have done, but I'd rather be living and doing the things I love than the alternative..
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Postby dave54 » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:07 pm

At the risk of being insensitive and politically incorrect...



More men develop prostate cancer than women breast cancer (1:6 versus 1:8). Death rates from each are about the same (1:33). Yet breast cancer annually receives 10x the research funding as prostate cancer, and virtually no media attention is focused on prostate.

Perhaps we guys need a 'blue ribbon' equivalent campaign.
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Postby Rosabella » Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:01 am

Thank you all for your supportive comments. I was a little nervous posting this but I really wanted to stress the importance of the self-exams.

Trailblazer - thanks, Greg. Yeah, I had already gone thru all of this before I met you in 2003.

Snow Symph - I'm so glad everything turned out well (don't worry about that scar, it will fade and soon it will become just part of that wonderful person you are)

Krudler - best wishes for your wife's sister. If she'd ever like to talk to someone who's gone thru it, please feel free to give her my Email. (sometimes it's easier talking to a stranger about fears, etc. - we tend to feel the need to put up a "strong front" for family/friends).

Allyn - thanks! Looking forward to seeing you this summer!

Megan - Thanks... nice to see you on the board, also :)


Ya know, Dave...I've also been amazed about the huge success of the breast cancer awareness campaign. You're right - unfortunately there are so many types of cancer, and I'll admit I don't know that much about prostate cancer.

But I think the reason breast cancer awarenesss has got so much of the media attention is that women worked really hard to get it there. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has been working on raising awareness for over twenty years, as well as the American Cancer Society. Both these organizations sponsor walk-athons, marathons, and numerous other fund-raising events to raise awareness and funding for research.

Breast cancer is so frightening because not only have so many women died from it, but the treatments were so disfiguring for so long. "lumpectomies" have only recently started to become an option instead of a mastectomy. It was devastating for so many women, to have to go thru treatments, and then to have to deal with radical changes in their bodies that affected their very sexuality - how they saw themselves and and how they perceived their partners saw them. So, women banded together to do something so that their sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends would not have to go thru this. I am proud of what they/we accomplished.
Last edited by Rosabella on Wed Apr 05, 2006 6:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Trekker » Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:02 am

Rosabella, thank you for telling your story, and I admire your courage. I had a close friend who developed a very rare cancer that only 5 years ago was 100% fatal. Thanks to some remarkable developments in the last few years, the long-term prognosis for these individuals is much less grim. Once you or someone close to you is diagnosed, it becomes much more than just another disease that someone you don't know has, more than just statistics. I wish you continued success and many cancer free years to come, and as the years go by, we learn more and more about how to fight these diseases. I used to be involved in molecular biology research, and I remember when I heard a presentation by one of the group that had just identified what is now known as the 'Breast Cancer gene", BRCA 1, back in 1993. We have come a long way since then. You might be interested to know that I just heard on the news today that a study has found that high doses of Vitamin D have been shown to prevent breast cancer; what types, etc. I am not sure. Vitamin D and lack thereof has recently been shown to be involved in many diseases that appear to be prevalant in areas that have low levels of sunlight (e.g. Seattle). Something to look into, and maybe discuss with your Oncologist.

Dave54, as you know, men have a certain macho attitude about things, particularly when it comes to their body. One of the problems with Prostate Cancer has been getting men to do regular checkups, and for those of you who know what the most common form of checkup is, enough said!!! :eek: Not too many guys sit around discussing their Prostate exams, at least not that I am aware of! :o Women as a rule are much more likely to discuss these things, and therefore, as Rosabella has mentioned, formed a much more proactive support network. It's all about lobbying, when it comes to dealing with funding. What IS coming out is that many of the cancers share mechanisms that may be eventually attacked and defeated in similar fashion. Finally, for those really macho men out there, at least get a PSA test! Easy and cheap! :D
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