When I talked to my surgeon before the lumpectomy she said that breast cancer treatments are a temporary inconvenience. At the time we had no idea what kind of breast cancer it was (HER2+) nor the fact that I had the BRCA2 gene. So I named this blog “A Temporary Inconvenience” with the idea that soon I would be well and go on with my life.
The treatment for my cancer was to get rid of it with a lumpectomy. That’s a temporary inconvenience. Once I found out I was HER2+ that temporary became a year long preventive treatment process. After I found out I had the BRCA2 gene I embarked on some more preventive treatment. I had a hysterectomy last November, 17 months after I originally felt my lump. Temporary was taking longer and longer. I’m still considering a double mastectomy to reduce my risk of more breast cancer but for now I’m taking a break from treatments.
Less than two years ago I was only considered a little higher risk because my mother had breast cancer. She tested negative for the BRCA genes and there wasn’t a lot of breast cancer in her family or my father’s. My father died of pancreatic cancer but both him and my mother were smokers. I have never smoked and have avoided being around second hand smoke ever since I moved out from my parents house.
Since I believed that both of my parents’ cancers were at least partly due to environmental factors I focused on reducing those risks factors. I also worked on having better eating habits and regular exercise. Little did I know I was carrying a time bomb in me (BRCA2 gene).
I think because of my long “temporary inconvenience” it’s been hard to write about having cancer. My fears tell me it is something I want to avoid. If I write about it then I will always be thinking about it. But I have come to the conclusion that avoidance is all part of the grieving process.
Once you are a cancer survivor you have to go through a grieving process because you have lost your “old” self forever. It’s not always easy to come to terms with your “new” self. Some people handle it better than others. I think it all depends on your diagnosis, prognosis, family history, your support group (family & friends), and your personal experience with survivors and non-survivors.
When I was in for a check-up with the surgeon in mid January she wanted me to get an MRI. It was time for a routine check. She told me that the insurance companies were rejecting requests for MRI’s more often and I shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t pre-approve it. When I went to the front desk to have the receptionist fill out the request for pre-approval she said I shouldn’t have a problem. I fit the criteria for high risk patients. That statement hit me like a ton of bricks.
Lately I’ve been twittering http://twitter.com/jlscissors and have found several cancer survivors on there. Suzanne at http://twitter.com/joinourloop had asked me to write a blog post about organizing and managing medical insurance papers for her blog; http://joinourloop.blogspot.com/. It’s been a struggle because it force me to get back to writing about my cancer. It’s hard to avoid doing something when you told someone you would do it.
I’m still trying to find my “new” self. It’s an ongoing process. By writing in here and the guest blog post I hope to move forward with the process instead of avoiding it.