One day soon I hope to have a subject to write about other than the formerly captital C word. From now on I designate the word cancer unworthy of a capital letter! But since I revealed my health concerns on Wintersong, I’ve had so many positive replies and helpful information through comments as well as emails, not only have I begun to focus on this in a more positive light, I’ve learned so many things–good things–others not so good–that I feel pressed to share with women worldwide.
WordPress adds links to other blogs at the bottom of each of my posts that are similar to or on the same subject as the one I’m posting so those who’re interested can find them. I’ve found several interesting bloggers this way myself. Anyway, that’s how I came across some information about mammograms that I wish every man and woman would read, even if you’re not a cancer patient yourself.
A Day In The Life is a blog written by a 47-year-young woman in Virginia who was diagnosed with breast cancer BUT not until she accidentally came across some frightening information in a clerical error that seems on reflection to be divine intervention or an angel on her shoulder, whichever way you want to look at it. It was a real eye opener that may push you to be more aggressive on getting a complete mammogram report each time you have one. I am one of those, maybe it’s my generation showing, who never questioned the doctor or followed up after my mammogram. I just waited for the little card that usually came in the mail a week later to say the test was negative; be sure you make an appointment for another mammogram in a year. I’d feel a bit relieved and go on about my life. After this experience, and especially after reading Koryn’s post “Don’t let it happen to you!” I’ll never be so complacent again and I hope you won’t either. To each of my daughters especially I’m asking you, please read this post. When Koryn read the first line on the page she wasn’t to have access to, the situation quickly became no laughing matter! If someone had read and properly responded to that earlier report from two years before, that clearly stated “an incidental mass found behind the areola, more pronounced on today’s images,” and went on to say “found nothing on imaging of the area where I felt the lump . . . findings? Benign. Case closed. And so the clock ticked on,” the cancer she was facing now may–no doubt should have been–not only detected but treatment begun fully two years before! Here’s how Koryn begins her story and here’s that link again:
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2008, I asked HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED? I had faithfully gotten my mammograms every year since turning 40. I had my annual gynecological exams. I went to see a surgeon when I felt a lump. I was told everything was fine. But when I had my first biopsy in September, 2008, and went to get the written pathology report at the nurse’s station, the nurse accidentally printed out all of the lab and x-ray reports I had at that facility for the past 2 years! I told her that was okay, and that I had a long wait in the pharmacy so this would give me some “reading material”. We laughed and I went on my way.
As good as our health diagnostic tools can be, outcomes still depend enormously on humans reading the report fully and the doctors accurately sharing that information with the patient in a timely manner. I’ve convinced myself that there’s probably a huge percentage of reports sent by labs that never get looked at until the day you show up at the office for another appointment, which could be months or even years later. There’s no one person to point the finger of blame to, but everyone needs to be motivated to do their jobs thoroughly and well–especially in the healthcare field!
Now for the positive stuff! My infusion nurse told me as I shared my feelings about losing my hair that she’d seen a lot of patients came through the chemo lab and one thing she’d noticed about nearly all of them: when all the hair is gone, the eyes seem to take on a clarity and vividness, the color intensifying and her word to describe the phenomenon was “beautiful.” It may sound vain, but that conversation began to make me feel better–even looking forward to seeing how my texture and color–maybe thickness too–might change for the better. One could hope.
Then this morning I received a comment from Koryn herself (blog writer mentioned above) after I’d commented on how young she looked to have gone through such an ordeal–and she shared with me that her chemo, which was much more intensive than mine, caused a natural chemical peel of her skin so she had better skin than she’d had in years. Thought that may have accounted for her younger appearance.
Nearly every comment on the wigs focused on wig #2 in the middle, so it’ll definitely be one I keep. Moe and I will still be checking out other wigs, hopefully longer ones that will feel more natural to me, tomorrow afternoon. Look for more wig photos in a day or two. My ideal wig would be an unstyled one that I take to my hairdresser and ask him to cut and style it as much like my current haircut as possible. I have a feeling that may be very costly but it can’t hurt to inquire. Grannymar in Ireland reminded me that a bald head may feel cold at night so one of those fleece caps I hate–and is available free at the clinic–will be added to my baldy wardrobe next treatment–by which time incidentally I expect to be completely bald. I want to add some stylish scarves, too, and learn to tie them so they won’t keep slipping off, and I’d like to have a sports cap with the hair hanging from the bottom, long enough that I can feel it, that I can wear when I go hiking (yes I hope to continue the summer mountain hikes–easy ones!) or to an outdoor casual event and every day. I think that would feel so much less artificial.
I see this post is becoming far too long as usual, so even though I have lots of useful information to pass along to others going through a similar experience, I’ll stop it here. Please, if you haven’t already clicked that link in the third paragraph, do so now. And again, thank you all for the comments that you’ve made. All the emotional and mental support I’m getting from so many mean more than I ever would have imagined before. I’m learning every day.