Happy Birthday to Me!
Today’s my birthday. I am truly appreciative to be alive. The outcome could have been tragic and very different. Last year on my birthday I was unaware that a 3 inch tumor was slowly growing. Even though I had annual and often bi-annual mammograms, no one identified the huge ass tumor growing front and center in my left breast. Today I reflect on the radical changes physically, mentally, and emotionally as I celebrate my 40-ish birthday.
I don’t look anything like I did before. I lost all my hair through chemotherapy. I gained 20+ pounds then, too. Instead of taking the nausea pills, I ate my way through 4 sessions lasting 3 months. My family “vacationed” in my living room standing watch and assisting me through the horrendous week-long recoveries after each chemo treatment. I lost 10 pounds when both breasts were removed in September. Those DDs sure were heavy! I have mini blue tattoos where the radiation aligned for 33 treatments. And virtually none of my clothes fit. Add that to monthly shots and daily hormone treatment pills (plus the pills to curb the hot flashes), and you see that the last year was tough. Very, very tough. I still cannot look at myself in a mirror. Forget taking pictures. I avoid all cameras. My mental recovery will take longer than my physical recovery.
For nearly ten years leading up to the discovery, I complained about the incremental growth of both breasts. One gynecologist naively told me that continued, unexplained growth happens in some women. Jerk. He should have known that unexplained growth is a precursor to breast cancer. Thankfully he has retired and does not perpetuate such ignorance.
My breasts were dense—extremely dense. Therefore, I endured the vise grip twice a year. I walked out of the mammogram tests feeling safe. I wasn’t pulled aside; I wasn’t ushered into the side room. I got the “A-OK you are cancer free.” Don’t be lulled into the false sense of security.
Twenty percent of all breast cancers are not detected by mammograms. 20%! I attended annual exams where my new gynecologist performed breast exams. The mass moved around. And it hurt. I’ve had over 10 years of streaking pain across my left breast. Two classic signs discounting a tumor. Thankfully, last year I persisted. Shortly after last year’s birthday, I felt the lump. And I knew. Take my word: You know. My heart sank as I made the appointment. But I made the appointment. If you feel a lump, don’t wait for your annual mammogram. Schedule an appointment. Be your own advocate because no one else will.
This year I thank God that I am alive. And I mean it. I also thank Him for setting me on a new path. I enjoy investigating the paranormal. I also enjoy meeting other enthusiasts. I will continue blogging, researching, and investigating.
Currently, I don’t resemble my profile picture. I’m not updating it or changing it. I’m going to wait until my hair grows out and I lose the extra chemo weight. God help me; I will lose this weight! I’ll continue to shrug off the occasional comment, “Gee, you don’t look like The Haunted Librarian.” One day soon I will. Happy Birthday to me! God Bless.