Friday, June 29, 2007

One Year Ago

This week,

I found a lump in my breast whilst in the shower. I was in the middle of Ngaire's
Breast Cancer fundraiser along with Karen's Kupboard auction.

I always checked for lumps every few weeks. Every since my friend Lynita was diagnosed it made me so much more aware. At least once a week or fortnight I would take the time to check whilst in the shower. Even with no family history of breast cancer and being TOO young I always checked.

That particular week I was prompted to check just one more time but this time pushing a lot deeper. Just running my fingers lightly over my breast didn't reveal anything. My lump almost felt like it was a rib it was so deep in my breast. I wasn't sure at first but after running my soapy hands over again and again I KNEW it needed to be checked. I even had Jason check for me (not that he needed to be asked lol) and he could feel it when pushing hard.

Why didn't I feel it earlier. How could I have missed it. I mean I check so often it's not funny. It was so deep in my breast though that it would have been easy to think it was nothing. Lumpy boobs.


Wednesday morning I headed off to see Dr Anthony. He listened, he believed and he acted immediately (please girls don't ever believe you need to wait a few weeks to see if things change, it could be too late). You need a doctor that reacts straight away. If it's a false alarm then you have reason to celebrate. No harm done. Better to be safe.

A year ago today I went for a mammogram and ultrasound. Jason and the girls came with me for support.

Jason and the girls dropped me off and I went inside Lake Imaging (Trish met me outside and gave me my circle journal of words of wisdom and quotes from Piles Of Scrap, little did these girls realise the strength it gave me that day, almost like they were all there with me). Even back then I knew, a gut feeling that it wasn't good. The lady that did my mammogram showed me my images and pointed out the lump. I remember saying to her, that doesn't look good and she replied NO it doesn't. I remember walking out shaking, trembling and waiting for J to come pick me up (he had taken the girls down the road to entertain them at the shops as no one was allowed in with me). Jason's Uncle Macca (a taxi driver) pulled up beside me to pick up a customer and asked if I was ok. I remember saying, I am fine, without giving anything away. Deep down I was on the verge of tears.

I knew already it wasn't good. I wasn't over reacting, I felt like I just knew. I just wanted to get my results and then deal with whatever life was going to throw at me. I actually felt so much better once I knew where I was heading.

Here is my blog entries from a year ago.

Breast Cancer
I think this is a couple of words that puts the fear of all things into a woman. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by Breast Cancer. They say early detection is the best prevention and I am hoping they are right.Over the last week I have noticed some changes in one breast. Early this week I discovered a lump. This lump is about the size of a 5 cent piece, maybe slightly larger. I check quite regular as most woman should but I cannot remember if I checked last week or three weeks ago. My mind is a bit of a blur right now.Yesterday I went back to my doctor. I had already seen him Monday and he put my changes down to hormonal changes due to coming off a contraceptive injection. Back to yesterday I went back to confirm my worst fears that there really was a lump there and he found it straight away. Due to the other changes he has booked me in as early as possible for a mammogram and an ultrasound tomorrow morning.This is the most scariest thing I think I have ever been through. It even beats childbirth. I have had wonderful support from my family and my scrapbooking buddies from Piles Of Scrap. I am sure the lump will end up being nothing but that really doesn't stop everything going through your mind. You try not to imagine the worst but somehow yucky thoughts slip in.I am trying to remain positive. For those who drop by you will notice the strange woman cleaning and decluttering like a mad woman to take her mind off of things. I have even agreed to let quite a few of Kady's mad tweeny friends come over today just so the day will pass more quickly.Anyway send good vibes my way tomorrow please. I won't find out the results until at least Monday or Tuesday. It's going to be a long weekend.

An Update
All tests are done thank goodness for now. Very scary but not painful and hardly uncomfortable. I had my mammogram and then they called me back to have a magnified view. Gather they wanted a closer look at my lump. They showed me my mammogram images. I have a large white solid looking mass. It seems pretty contained. She said it didn't appear to be a cyst and that I would have to wait until next week for the doctor to tell me the news. She said it doesn't look too good especially with my discharge from my nipple has changed from yellow to blood like over the last few days
(Just want to clarify that the discharge was so tiny it could only be noticed if you squeezed the nipple, it wasn't flowing out iykwim and even then it was a micro dot of fluid). My ultrasound showed a solid black lump. So looks like no fluid. They also checked for blood flow around it.It all seems pretty surreal. Most of the day I have felt fine. During and after I felt very teary during the day and tonight. I think a glass of red is on order lol.I am pretty sure looking at the images (not that I know squat) that it is a tumour but I suppose time will tell if it's benign or malignant. Like I said I am trying to read the results without knowing nothing. For all I know it could be something harmless.I hate the waiting game and wished the weekend wasn't in the middle. I plan on keeping pretty busy to take my mind off of things. Will throw out all my old clothing to the op shop lol that doesn't fit and have a massive declutter.Jason is cooking a nice piece of steak and calamari on the bbq for dinner. Yummo.Thanks for all my lovely family and friends for thinking of me and keeping me in good spirits.

A year has changed me so much. It's a year I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies if I had them. NO one wants to have cancer. The cancer and treatment takes so much away from you. I think the hardest thing I found was the guilt, the guilt on how my family had to deal with this, the time it took in regards to medical appointments, and the money. I hated it. It drains you, changes the way you think and takes away the person or life you once were, BUT at the same time it gives you so much more back. I am so much a better person than before cancer. I am grateful for, my hubby Jason. J was a tower of strength, we laughed and cried together many times, my girls, my sweet girls, I tried to make my journey for them as truthful and lest scary as I could. I was always honest, no matter what they asked and they have been fantastic. My family, both in oz and overseas. Your messages via email kept me going each day. One day at a time. The friends I have made and I sometimes think I would go through it all again in a heartbeat. Not for the cancer side but for all the hundred other reasons. It has honestly been the most unreal journey I have ever made.

I am ALIVE a year later and it really doesn't ever get much better than that (lets hope that continues lol). I have never really dwelled on why me. I must admit it did enter my mind, I did all the right things statistically to NOT get breast cancer and yest I did get IT. It has made me view life so much more different from before and at the same time keeping my sense of humour. Before I was very easy going but until you have gone through this it changes all again and I think I have become even more laid back. It makes me laugh sometimes because so many people tell you they know what you are going through and they try to relate to exactly how you feel. Even though they have never been through CANCER, through chemo, radio and their life laid out before them. One of the things I have had to deal with is the weight I put on through chemo ( I know its trivial ) and yet that weight stopped me from ending up in hospital and kept me thriving. I was so lucky compared to some.

I entered a very early menopause, hot flushes etc (good in winter though, keep you nice and warm, no zits) as well as so many other side effects (my arm from lymph node removal is still quite numb, i have next to no feeling in my armpit) and weird feelings after surgery (in my breast) that continue to change month to month as my body heals even a year on. I still cannot lay on my side comfortably because of my surgery. My left side of my body will never feel normal again but I'm feeling pretty good at the same time. Lately though I have had stirrings that make me think things down stairs are changing. Girls you know that heavy achy feeling. Not sure I want that normality back.

I have made a few online friends, Valerie in America (Val I love you, and would love to meet you and your gorgeous family in real life one day) Beverly and Dawn (we have chatted on our blogs through our journeys), and in real life, Petra (although I have only met you once and spoken to you a few times I love you mate and I am so proud of you) My chemo buddies, Helen (my local rock and friend, confidant and helper in keeping the oncology nurses in stitches lol, we have been together each step of the way), Katrina (sadly no longer with us, oh Trina you had the most charismatic eyes and laugh anyone ever had. Now due to your kindness two other people have sight thanks to you. You were way too young to die), Lorraine (and her wonderful husband), Ina, you thought I was way to young to have breast cancer as I was so much younger than you, gosh did we laugh through radio, we had those young radiotherapists in stitches), and many many other ladies and gents I met in Oncology and through radiotherapy (some sadly are no longer with us), my mates online on the boards in America and Australia and other online blogs I read, Marjory, Stephanie, and so many more.

Cancer has changed my life for the better. Not something I would have ever thought I would say. I know many boob jokes lol

There was always a possibility of dying but that is going to happen eventually to anyone whether you have cancer or you don't. I have always focused on living. I plan to do it well and enjoy it for as long as I have. As my dear Nanny told me only days before she passed away, She said to me Dawn, you are going to live until you are an old lady. I always have listened to my Nan.


Sarah said...

Wow Dawn. One whole year and look at you now.. Well Done. you have stayed so so strong. You are and inspiration...

Thanks for sharing that with us. You are amazing.

Take care

mum said...

Dont know what to say just cried and cried reading all of that.
I cant belive that it is one year since it all started I was with you every step of the way wishing I could have done more and wishing that I could be with you every day.
I remember when nanny was over here on holiday and we picked you up from the airport, she said what a beutiful girl you have there, and when we took you back to brisbane to fly home I cried all the way home, nanny said it is so funny that your first born is always so special I see what she means now.
Even though I have 3 lovely kids she was so right I loved you so much from the day you were born so good and clever crawled at 4 and a half months walked at 8 months had a mouthful of teeth at 9 months.
Tony came next could not have asked for such more for a loving placid little boy, we thought that he was going to be a girl so we did not have a name for him, so we called him manny he was so cute loved him to bits now he is grown up he is still my little manny always will be, a lovely young man so proud of him.
Love you Tony.
Then there is Donna my baby, such a lovely girl so laid back and such a good mum, always helping people.
Donna was a very expensive baby we tried for so long to get her, it took years.
Then we said that is enough we have tried long enough it is not meant to be,a few weeks after that I was pregnent we we so happy.
They are all such a god send to me I would not be with out them.
Love you all so much even though you are all diffrent, you are all very specila and I love you all so much.
As for Dawn what can I say you are one of lifes very special people ,and thank you Jason for looking after her and loving her like you do.
You are one in a million.
Love you to bits.

Anonymous said...

dawn..i think you are a brave girl i have read your blog from the day that you have said that you had the C you have gone in and come out the other side and i say from all of us in the uk HOORAY AND WELL DONE for being so strong love from mick and deb and family xxxx HOORAY

I Scrap therefore I am said...


Can't really find the right words here....

Your post has touched me...and I am sure many other people. Having only found your blog quite recently and not followed your whole journey all I can say is that I am amazed and honoured that I have been able to read what you have written here. It is so real. You sound so strong and so "together", but also honest and vulnerable at the same time.
Congratulations on your continued good health.

Lusi Austin :) said...

Hi Dawn ;) I think the first time I read your blog was the day or the day after you got that news. I remember being very emotional reading that post and here I am a year later being emotional again. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. It is humbling, insightful and encouraging. Congrats and I wish you every blessing and wonderful gift of life!
Love and best wishes,
Lusi x

Lusi :) said...

Oh and your mum's post was wonderful too,,,Jason does sound like a champ!
L x

KimA said...

Your story has made me cry and yet lifts me up and gives me hope. Thanks so much for sharing and being real.


The Clarks said...

WOW 12 months
I remember that day so vividly Dawn I felt so sick for you and so anxious meeting yo at xray, so scared for you :(
But now 12 months on you are doing good GF :)
Hugs to you J and your gorgeous girls :)
You rock and I am proud of you and how you have gotten through this :)

Anonymous said...

WOW it been just over 12 months now Dawn and I remember the day so clearly

Hugs from me to you and your family I know its been hard at times
you make me so proud of how you have gotten through this and continue to do so hugs Elie