Six years ago, my mother was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, a non-invasive form of breast cancer. She had her breast removed and that was the end of that — no drugs, no chemotherapy, no radiation. (We’ll ignore the fact that the mastectomy surgery brought with it a systemic infection that nearly killed her or the fact that the IV insertion caused her to lose full use of that arm/hand for years — the mastectomy itself was a success.)
She’s had regular annual mammograms since then. Two weeks ago, she got a call saying that they needed to do some additional tests. Then she had to have a biopsy, which got delayed because she got terribly ill. Today, we’ve found out that she definitely has cancer in the remaining breast. And this time, it’s fully invasive. They won’t know how bad, how far it has spread, or what stage it is until they actually get in there. On the plus side, it doesn’t appear to be huge. On the minus side, it appears to be fast growing. We put on the usual black humour faces we’re known for but it’s a hard sell. Even harder knowing I’m not there and can’t be there. Would that I could set up a huge energy conduit from me to her.
Can’t help but also wonder about the future repercussions for my sister and I: our maternal grandmother died of bowel cancer at the age of 35 — recurring breast cancer in our mother is a bit scary for so many reasons.
Breast cancer links:
- Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation
- Breast Cancer Society of Canada– Includes an animation showing the various stages
- Canadian Cancer Society breast cancer page
- Canadian Breast Cancer Network
- Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance
- Breast Cancer Support Services
- Breast Self Exam – Offers an interesting audio accompaniment
- Rethink Breast Cancer
Some positive snippets from breastcancer.org:
“In general, the personalities of breast cancers that occur in women under age 40 tend to be more aggressive than those that occur most often in women over 40.”
“If your doctor finds cancer in a part of your breast or in tissues of your chest wall entirely separate from where the initial cancer was located, it’s likely that this cancer is new and not a recurrence of the old cancer. This is especially true if it’s been more than five years since your first diagnosis. Developing a new cancer is generally, but not always, more favorable than having a recurrent cancer. “
Also found out today that one of my cousins had a heart attack last week. Thankfully, it was mild and nonfatal, but still…