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nosurrender

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It was a beautiful day. In fact, the day of the biopsy was one of those stunning days that make you wonder how on earth Labor Day could be the end of summer. It was Friday. My breast surgeon told me that "It was small" and "We won't know anything for a few days." I didn't know then that he already knew it was cancer. The frozen section had come back before I was even awake in the recovery room. I think he wanted to give me a gift, the gift of time to be me for just a few days longer. I will never forget the gift of those last, cancer free days .

A few days later, his nurse called me and told me I needed to come in. Now. I knew it couldn't be good news if he wasn't able to tell me over the phone. But the possibility still hadn't sunk in. I didn't know then what I was waiting to hear truly meant.

I sat down across from him. He turned in his chair to reach for a pamphlet behind him and said, "Let me tell you about your cancer." Cancer. What did he just say? I tried to write down what he was saying. I still have the paper. It made no sense. It was the less favorable kind. You mean there are good kinds of cancer? The survival rates are poorer than those with the "other" kind.

Five years didn't seem like it was in the cards for me. He gave me percentage points and I was not falling into the positive side of them. He said we would know more after the lumpectomy and lymph nodes were tested. But for now, I had cancer. He said to go home and not try to think of everything all at once because we still don't know everything yet. I got the feeling he was not waiting for good news to come out of further testing, but what did I know? I knew nothing about cancer except that people die from it and before they die they are made sick and tortured by scary drugs and they somehow cease being people.

I went to the city to see a specialist a few days later. It was the morning of September 11th, 2001. As I walked the streets in a self-absorbed, terrified daze, planes were flying overhead and ending the lives of thousands of people. Some of whom I knew. Suddenly, my cancer didn't seem so terrifying anymore. I was now afraid of the here and now. How would I get out of Manhattan? How many more planes were headed for the city? Does the NYPD have an air force?

And then there were the buildings. The billowing smoke was bad enough, but then they fell down. Someone said there could be 20,000 people trapped or killed inside. No one knew anything because the smoke and shattered steel was obscuring everything. The notion of "air pockets" was brought up. Surely there were air pockets providing survivors with enough oxygen until we could get to them. St. Vincent's hospital set up a huge outdoor triage to handle all the survivors.

There were no air pockets. There were no survivors. The doctors and nurses stood waiting with determined looks on their faces, but their eyes revealed the realization that they would not be helping anyone that day.

Then they started to come. As I was driving eastbound away from the burning city, the westbound lanes were at a complete standstill. Manhattan was in lock down. No one could enter. So the traffic backed up for miles and miles along the Long Island Expressway. But the emergency lane was clear. And they came. As far as the eye could see, truck after truck from every volunteer fire department on Long Island. There was a job to do and they were on their way. They weren't alone. Mixed in with the bright red of the fire trucks was another color- the bright yellow of the Catepillars and earth movers and dump trucks. Strangers from the small towns that occupy Long Island dropped everything and they were coming. Coming to help anyone who was in the pile. Nothing mattered except that we all stood together.

I changed that day. As I looked at the smoke that hovered over Ground Zero from a safe distance of a bridge heading home, I realized how lucky I was. I may have had cancer, but I had a chance to fight it. I didn't care how grim my prognosis was. I was going to fight it with everything I had.

I knew no one with cancer. I had no where to turn. But I had a computer. I was just getting accustomed to the internet then. I made a post on a breast cancer support board. Suddenly, like that beautiful line of volunteer fire fighters and construction workers, the responses came. I was told I wasn't alone. I was told what I needed to do. Strangers became my sisters. The fight became easier because I wasn't a lone soldier, I had an army.

From the darkness comes the best kind of hope. From misfortune comes the opportunity to become blessed. Helplessness can turn into strength and more. It can become a calling. It can make you into someone you weren't before.

That is what cancer did for me. In gratitude for the sisters who answered when I reached out into the dark, I did whatever I could to be like them. So I reached out to those newer than me. The seed was planted and I answered that call I could hear in my listening heart that it was my turn to do for others what was done for me. And in return? I have become a happier person. I have a great sense of peace inside me. I have friends, sisters, twins, all over the world now. They have touched my life and mean more to me than anything else has. I love my Band of Sisters and I have never felt alone or lonely since our hands were joined.

I didn't know back then what it meant when I heard the words, "Let me tell you about your cancer." But I do now. It means hope. It means love. It means strength. It means compassion. It means my family has just increased by at least two million.

The books and internet said, "Women with triple negative breast cancer have a poorer prognosis and will die sooner." So I wrote my own book. I started my own website. I fought a brand new cancer five years later for over a year and have been scanned to reveal No Evidence of Disease.

Let me tell you about your cancer... You can do this. You can make it through the horror of diagnosis. The surgeries are easier than you think. I have had all of them, I know. Seventy percent of all breast cancer is cured by surgery alone. Chemotherapy is not as bad as you are imagining it to be. I have had seven of them. I know. The number one side effect of chemo is: It Works. And then one day you will turn around and see it is all behind you and your life is waiting for you. You don't cease being a person. In fact, you become a person who contains multitudes. You may feel battered and beaten up, but you are courageous and strong. Stronger than you ever thought you could be.

As I walk around this life now and meet people who don't know about my cancer and they talk about the trials and tribulations of life and how afraid they are, I am quiet. I have a secret. They don't know what I know and what you will know when you are done with this. Like Clark Kent, we know that people may think we are like everyone else, but in reality, we can leap tall buildings in a single bound, decipher a pathology report as if it is our native tongue, and we can face just about anything.

If I remember that first meeting with my breast surgeon correctly, I am not supposed to be here right now. Well, he did give me negative percentage points. I didn't know that I would be blessed to fall into the positive few percentage points he also mentioned. I have been lucky, God has been good to me. I have lost many friends who I miss every day. But for some reason I am here. When you hear your "chances" and are given stats and percentage points, remember that you, too, can be on the positive side of those points too.

Twenty thousand people could have died in the World Trade Center, but because of the hard work of the heroes that came to their aid, they escaped. The windows and doors of the lobbies were shattered so everyone could get out. We lost three thousand, but tens of thousands made it out alive. Too many people die of cancer and it is infuriating and heart breaking. But millions also survive. And they are living wonderful lives- wiser, stronger, grateful lives.

Always look forward. Do what they ask of you. Never, ever give up hope. And above all, No Surrender.

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Karen1956

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Reply with quote  #2 

Gina - this is beautiful - you have such a way with words.  Hugs, karen



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G,

Thanks so much.  You just don't know how much your words mean to me and all the other ladies on this site.  Your words have made me crawl out of bed some mornings when I thought I wanted to just curl up and die.

Hugs,

Sonja 
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Dearest Gina,
I have read your post over and over again.  Last count: 21 times.  You are a gifted, brilliant writer.  This one brings happy tears, and sad tears for the beautiful people we lost that unforgettable day, 9/11/2001. 
 
I have deep, spirit memories when one of our country's worst nightmares occurred.  My MIL lived near the area where the plane crashed in Somerset, Pa.  She called to tell us about it before we had any idea about the magnitude and disasters going on at the time.  It was one of those moments in my life, (few), I began to cry, and cried for months (maybe years).  That single event haunts humanity, the planet, our future.  I can't hold back the grief and tears; and I hope it always hits me like a ton of asteroids falling from "outer space, directly into my own heart, mind, spirit, and soul".

Naturally,  my therapy for all things, sad or happy; is to dig into the earth, uncovering the mysteries, geology, archeology, minerals, artistic discoveries hidden beneath our feet;and sometimes these magnificent chunks of earth are simply left in place;  to be admired, studied, trace the place of origin; Igneous, Sedimentary, Metamorphic significant evidence to generate our intellect, existence and purpose for life on our little "Blue Orb": and sometimes a little bit of this, that and the other.  It is amazing to ponder these ancient wonders, and to marvel at billions of years later in time.  
 
An "enormous later" happened on  September 11, 2001; another day, but sadistically re-created into a horrifying experience, a particularly crude and "unwelcome special memory".
 
I'd already been cleaning up the yard (bought our house that previous December);  rocks, stones, boulders from the soil.  What I thought were stepping stones, were actually dynamic shapes and rock formations originally set into the soil to keep the (enormous now) Sugar Maple Trees rooted and stablized;  200 years ago, likely to keep the soil from wash away.  I feel sad sometimes, as it never fails, I've disturbed some insects, worms, and little villages of living creatures.  Carefully, I take long periods of time to avoid disrupting this peaceful, unknown, underground sanctuary.  Most escape, happily; some don't, sadly. 
 
I try "not" to dig, and generally find plenty of splendid sculptures on the surface; Earth, Mother, Father, Brother, Sister, Lovers, Children; and the ancestral Rock Formations, are (in my humble heart) the only "true" art forms.  Nature, the energy, light, water, climate changes, and the amazing Flora and Fauna, continue to dazzle this soul, and I will always believe in eternity, love and everlasting creation.
 
The Rocks Around the Maple Tree, are always changing with the weather, additions, and every little pebble, glistening gem and shapes, holds prayers for all who suffered tragedy, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and likely continue to go "back in time", visiting and revisiting 911 to go back there every day; every time I walk by the tree, (daily), I think of those, such as yourself, who escaped, and live, of those who did not; of the rubble, the Firemen, Police, Emergency Squads, , Rescue Dogs, and long arduous work to bring New York City back to being the Big Apple; populated with heroes and heroines like you, who continuously give compassion, love, and  sacrifice generous pieces of your own life to make our world a beautiful and everlasting paradise. 
 
We Shall Prevail, and Never Surrender!!!
 
Thank you Gina.
 
Love,
Indi

nosurrender

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Reply with quote  #5 
Indi,
That was one of the most beautiful posts I have ever read.
You have captured, once again, every feeling that I associate with the after effects of that day.
The rocks around the maple- I love them. I will tell my high school friend whose husband was on the phone with her when the plane sliced through his floor and the phone went silent. Their children were little then, but they are much more aware now.

I hope we never, ever forget that day. It changed so much for so many. I want the memory of that day to be present, because we will honor the memory of all those we lost that day.

Speaking of that day, it was the most beautiful September day I ever saw. I remember driving into the city and thinking I had never saw a sky that blue before. After the buildings were down, there was the black smoke that rose into the sky, but there was also a pink cloud that hovered over the black. It was angelic looking. Almost as if heaven came closer to the ground to accomodate all the souls on their way there.

Thank you Indi.

I love you,
g


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nosurrender

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Reply with quote  #6 
(((Dear Sonja)))
Thank you so much. I can't tell you what it means to me knowing that we have helped you through this.
You got us now. We are in this together.
Big hugs to you.



Karen, THANK YOU FRIEND.
Love,
g


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deese

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Reply with quote  #7 
Sonja, aren't they something!!!
They got me through...kicking and screaming the whole way!

I love you guys dearly,
Deese 
Bonnie

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Reply with quote  #8 
Gina - Indi,

As we approach another anniversary of that memorable day in our recent history, I, like many others, will never forget the crystal clear blue sky, the news, and exactly what I was doing in my small universe (CharlesTown, WV) at the moments when NYC and our country came to a crossroads. 

Both of your writings are incredibly thought-provoking and beautiful.  We, as a people, and especially as this unique and special sisterhood, are STRONG, and open to the lessons of the events in our lives.   Whether as huge as the "9 11" event affecting the world, or confined to our individual world(s), the lessons are as powerful, just the same.     Mine, I think, came in the form of an incredible amount of love and support "out there," from both expected and unexpected sources, that I have been totally overwhelmed and, like Gina has so openly done, I want to 'pay it forward' and offer that same love and support to those who will face what I have experienced, and support through good times and not-so-good-times.   The roller coaster ride is so much easier when there are hands to hold.

To all of you, thank you for being there.  With lots of love and hugs, B
mrsb

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December 2002 I sat in front of my computer and typed in the words Breast cancer and I cried and found a site where i found love support knowledge and and hope.
On that terrible Sept day I was working at a Staples Call cntre here in Canada where I first heard those words a plane had flown into one of the Towers In NYC.We downed our phones and I sat and cried for you our neighbors, for our children and our world. Today I was in to see my Neurosurgeon and got good news 10% chance of recurrence... no extra treatment needed, just frequent MRI,s. On the drive home my husband and I were talking about 911 and how for ever our lives were changed. I came home celebrating my good fortune and thankful that my struggles and surviving BC had enabled me to cope with the meninigioma diagnosis etc and then I read these beautiful post by you all. I sat here and cried and cried but I also celebrate our strengths, the love for our sisters and the caring which is very evident here. Thank you Gina for starting this board and thanks to you all who take the time to share and Constantine for his wonderful research and wisdom.Gina would you have a problem if I forwaded your post to others off the board.Shelagh
nosurrender

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Someone asked me to bump this- So here it is You can do this girls!

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StacyL

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Reply with quote  #11 
I'm so glad I got a chance to read this. I felt like I was there with you Gina - you are a wonderful writer.
I remember exactly what I was doing when I saw the tragedy on the Today show. It was the first day my dh felt our baby move inside me before he left for work. I turned the T.V. on when he left and saw "a horrible dream" I was in shock.
nosurrender

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Thank you, Stacy. What a memory for you, the first time your baby moved...
I guess we could start our own version of
"Where were you when the world stopped turning...?" song.

Hugs to you,
love
g


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Jennine

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Reply with quote  #13 
Indy,
 
It's a gift getting to know you. I have never spoken to you but I have read your posts and know you have touched so many, including me.
 
I live on Long Island about 40 minutes from NYC. I knew a few people  who perished that day.They left the earth but are safely home now. I too was admiring that beautiful September day, it was a perfect day, the sky, a deep crystal blue, the temperature, a perfect 70 degrees.
 
I used to live further out east and would go to a town beach, Overlook Beach. Even though I live closer to the city and further from that town, I still travel there when I want to go to the beach. It's my favorite place here on the island, it's my sanctuary. The town goes through great lengths to keep the town beach beautiful and they do, it's a great place for everyone, and great for the kids. The town of North Babylon has a 9/11 memorial, they lost so many of their own..they wanted a place to honor those lost on that horrible day. I went out there after my biopsy, I didn't know whether or not I had cancer so my mood was kind of melancholy. I walked over to the memorial and walked around over and over...there are many faces imprinted on the plaques dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives but what I noticed even more were the flowers, flags, and personal items family members left at the site. Little children left hand prints for their daddy's and Mommy's and notes for their loved ones.
 
I have to say, there is a level of sadness there..but when I looked at the faces on those plaques I realized the impact those souls left on the earth. So much love, they have loved and are loved so very much. Their legacy, what a treasure. I smiled at them as if they could see me...and you know what? I believe they can..
 
God Bless,
 
Jen

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StrongGirl

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This is my first post here.  I just read your letter "Let me tell you about your cancer."  Thank you.  Thank you.  I found out I am triple negative three days ago.  I was just getting my head around the "You have breast cancer, but you caught it early."  Mastectomy was going to take care of this, but now I probably have chemo in my future.  I had to fight my HMO and insurance company this week to boot.  I went from the deepest pit to exuberant within the same three days.  My second opinion surgeon is the one who actually explained ER/PR/HER2 to me and told me what my status was and what it meant, and how genetic testing would beneift my decision-making before surgery (single or double?).  My first physician still hasn't talked to me about my hormone receptor status, or mentioned any genetic testing.  When was he planning on telling me?  When was he going to share that I might need chemo?  He still thinks I am scheduled for a mastectomy in a few weeks with him.  But I just made a momentous decision yesterday morning - I switched primary care networks with my insurance plan.  Now I can see the surgeon and team I want to see, the one who gives me thorough information so I can make the best decision for me - not leading my care but partnering with me.  I feel like a weight has been removed!  I feel I can face this journey now knowing I will get all the information I need, not just what is relevant at this moment in time.  I really am an intelligent woman and I won't freak out if you lay it all out for me!!  I'll need time to process it all, but give me a chance to make a completely informed decision!!  OK, I guess I didn't know I needed to vent.  Thank you for listening.  I am so glad I found this forum.  I look forward to learning at everyone's feet.


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nosurrender

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hello Strong Girl,
I just answered you on your other post. I wanted to welcome you here too.
We are here to hold your hand and guide you through this journey. We have been down this path and know where all the pot holes are and will steer you around them.

Awesome job being an advocator for yourself- That is the way we WIN this battle!

Remember, take things one moment at a time, don't project too far in the future. Just take it one step at a time until you get your plan in place- then you will feel back in control again.

Great big hugs to you,
g


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Jennine

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Reply with quote  #16 
Hi Stronggirl,

Welcome to this wonder place I call "home". I was diagnosed March 25th of this year and in the beginning went on other websites to gather information and find others with the same diagnosis as me. I wanted to know what to expect and I wanted to hear from other women how they were doing. I needed to hear they were ok because that meant I was going to be ok too.  My sister found No Surrender and I have been grateful ever since. You will find the most wonderful ladies (and men) on here..I felt welcome right from the start.
I'm 45 years old and had an IDC, triple negative, and they staged me 1c. I too was told it was early disease and I was not too worried until I read everything I could about triple neg. They told me I needed chemo, 3 docs told me the same thing and recommended the same treatment. So, I had my surgery, which was a lumpectomy with Sentinel Node Biopsy and had 5 lymph nodes removed. Then I did my chemo, started in beginning of June and ended in October. I am now doing radiation treatments, which will be 6 weeks total and I have already completed 1 week.  
All I can tell you at this point is I am doing good, yes..I was freaked out in the beginning, but I did well. Chemo was not pleasant but it WASN"T the worst thing in the world either. I was able to function and because of the steroids, I had energy. I did loose my hair, but it's growing back now, just like it always was, thick and wavy.  So, all in all, it wasn't so bad.
The hardest part for me was the unknown. I learned as I went along and realized worrying didn't do anything but stress me out. So why worry? It dawned on me after the fact..of course.
I was with my youngest son when I got that phone call from the doctor. She told me to sit down, but I didn't. She told me to drive home first, I told her no, then she told me not to loose sleep. She said, this year will be hard for you, but next year will be better. I am starting to believe she is right, next year will be better and I will be stronger and wiser then ever before!
What I'm saying is, I did it, I'm still doing it. I did my homework and it payed off and I have a feeling you will do yours too. I am pretty new into this,  meaning I am not out of treatment yet. But if you need someone to talk to I would love to help.
I know exactly how you feel.
But know this, you will endure!! It is good you caught it early, it's great your going to be treated at this early stage, so you have that in your favor, big time!!
Just ask, everyone here will come to your aid, that's a given..

Take it strong lady, one day, if not one moment at a time..

Jen

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Hi Jen:

I am thrilled to meet you!  I am glad to hear about your journey, because it appears we have much in common.  I, too, am 45.  I live on the West Coast with my wonderful hubbie, daughter (13) and son (11).  So glad to hear that the not-knowing/decision-making time I am in right now is one of the worst parts and will get better when the battle plan is in place.  I got my hair cut today and thought about how it will probably be my last until after chemo next year.  The hairdresser talked about how nice and thick my hair is.  I just smiled and thought about the terrible truth I was keeping to myself.  I'm glad to hear your hair is growing back like before.  What is it like to have no eyebrows or lashes?  Does ALL the hair on your body go?  My hubbie (is it DH, darling husband?) told me he would shave his head when my hair went.  Can you imagine that Christmas pic?!?  Just like a Saturday Night Live sketch - the Bald Family!  He made me laugh, and I am so grateful for my family, friends and coworkers who always make me laugh - alot!  I know that is good for me.  I work at a high school (secretary) so there is always something crazy and funny going on.  Thank you for sharing your experience with me, and I look forward to getting to know you more as you complete the treatment phase of your journey.  I hope I can be as strong as you are this time next year.  Thank you!

Kathi

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Jennine

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Reply with quote  #18 
Kathi!! I love your name, it happens to be my sister's name too and she is one of my favorite people in this world!

Anyway, I'm happy to help you with anything...any questions you have, please ask...k? Nothing and I mean nothing is a silly question, everything is relevant.

Let's see, I had my first chemo treatment on June 2, 2009. About 10 days after my treatment my hair started coming out. It didn't come out in clumps, not at all, just lots of strands. I had such thick hair you wouldn't believe, I mean strands and strands would come out and it didn't put a dent in the amount of hair I had. So I decided, instead of watching all of that hair come out a little at a time, I would shave it. I didn't shave it bald though, which looking back at it now probably would have been a good idea. The reason why I say that is when it comes out, you scalp tends to get tender and all those little hairs hurt my head and it really made a mess. lol When I think about it now I laugh because it was kind of funny. I would wake up in the morning and find all these little pin needle like hairs all over my pillow. It looked like my dog Jack's hair! Eventually it all came out and my scalp didn't bother me anymore. I did get used to it and after a short time, it didn't bother me anymore. Now, let me tell you, I had long hair all of my life, I LOVED my hair more than anything but I lost it and was proud of myself because I handled it better then I thought I would. I did cry at first, like a baby..but after the tears I remember my husband telling me over and over, "Your hair will grow back Jen, your cancer won't!" I thought, he was right and that helped me cope.
You know, the funny thing is Kathi..my husband said the exact same thing your husband said to you. He told me he was going to shave his head when I went bald. Hey, guess what? He didn't do it!! LOL!! Guess we are the stronger sex after all, huh. But he did say, "well if you would get me a wig I will do it" HA! but really, I didn't want him to shave it and I love him for just saying it even though he wimped out in the end.
Hold on to that man Kathi, I mean literally. I held on to mine and to be honest, I don't know how I would have got through without him. I would have done it, I am sure, but having him with me by my side made it so much more bearable for sure. ;-)
I have three boys, 19,18 and 14. They are my treasures, and, they have been great through all of this too. So positive, all along..lifting my spirits when I was down. Bringing me something to drink when I didn't want to get up to get one, telling me everything was going to be alright when my fear creeped in.  Everyone says these things, especially the ones that love you the most. But those words ring true. Believe them.
I never lost all of my eyebrows, they thinned out, but I never lost them completely. You may never lose all of you eyebrows either. A lady I was in chemo with, never lost hers. Same goes for my eyelashes. I think I might have lost a few here and there, but never lost them completely. Some ladies lose them. I guess it depends on how much you have? I had/have very thick eyebrows/lashes, so maybe that is why, I don't know.
Now as for hair everywhere else, yep, gone!! But to tell you the truth, I like it! Its also the hair that comes back first, at least it did for me. But when it came back, ummm hummm ya know where, it was so soft. :-) it was kind of cool. I didn't have to shave my legs and under arms for months and no little light hair on my face either, so that wasn't bad at all!
I did lose my period while I was on chemo, again...an individual thing. But it came back just this month and I've been out of chemo a month and a half. They told me because of my age it might not return, well mine did and I was glad, I wasn't ready for menopause.
You will do good Kathi, you'll see. Like I said, and Gina said and all the other ladies who have walked this path have said, you will be surprised  how well you will do. Lean on others, let them cook, and or clean, do errands, all of it. You need your rest, everything will get done eventually.
Try to stay as positive as you can, it helps, remember, worrying only creates stress..for what? You don't need anymore stress.
Once you find all your doctors and you schedule all of your appointments, then you begin to relax a bit knowing you'll be taken care of and cared for.

Brave strong girl you are, and look at the support team you have! Blessed beyond measure huh?

Love and hugs,
Jen



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Reply with quote  #19 
Dearest Jenine:
 
I was hoping to find a message from you!  Thank you for sharing more about your journey.  I was busy on the phone today, cancelling appointments I no longer need with the old surgeon, and making my appointments for after 12/1 when my new care network takes effect.  I am seeing my new surgeon's PS tomorrow, even though it will be out of pocket, because I can't stand the thought of delaying everything so much.  I already feel like I'm taking a risk.  My new surgeon's office manager was so kind today, she penciled my surgery in for two dates: 12/7 and 12/14, just in case we can move that fast.  But, I can't get the genetic testing until after the 1st, and without it, I won't know if I should get a bilateral or not.  Everything I'm reading points to getting the bilateral if I'm BRCA-1 positive.  Did you have a bilat?  How did your decision-making process go?  Did you have immediate recons?  I hate to admit this, but I am very on the fence about whether I want recons or not.  It's just so much to process all this, knowing the time is growing short and these decisions have such a great impact on the rest of my life.  I end up waking up about 4 am and have to work to quiet my mind so I can sleep until the alarm.  Right now I am running off to a parent meeting for my daughter's basketball team.  It is so surreal - right now I feel like I always do and am doing all the normal things I always do, but in my mind, everything has changed!  I feel like I'm in a bubble with a clock ticking.  My body hasn't figured out what's about to hit it yet, but my mind knows, oh yes, my mind knows!!  Well, I'll check back later on after the meeting and family stuff.  I hope to get in a walk, too.  I have already lost 10 pounds since 10/1, the day I changed my lifestyle, and I know eating well and exercising are going to help me with all that is to come.  I think you're on Eastern Time, right?  I'm in California, so it's still early now (5:30).  Thank you again, Jenine.  You are a God-send to me.  I hope this is a good week for you with your chemo treatments.  I am already praying for you, and Gina too.
 
Kathi

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Jennine

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Reply with quote  #20 
Hi Kathi,

Oh gosh sweetie, do I share your anxiety. Hey that anxiety is warranted and totally understandable. I completely understand and know what your thinking..
You don't want to delay one more day, let alone a week or two. I wanted my cancer out of me that same day, believe me.
Ok, truth is, tumor did not pop up overnight. It was manifesting inside of us for a while, how long, who knows? A day or two, or even a week or two, isn't going to make much of a difference. Try to relax, I know, I know, it's very hard, but remember! Worry causes un needed stress honey and we don't need it! Everything will fall into place, just keep doing what your doing..make your appointments, meet with the doctors and you will have a plan in place very quickly. Before you know it you will have your surgery scheduled.
Now, for me, it happened like this,
After I had the sonno, the doc told me I needed a core needle biopsy. After about 2 days she called me with the results. Man...was my head spinning, I didn't know what to do next. All I thought about was getting that damn little tumor out of me! I cried so hard..all I could think about were my kids not having me anymore, the thought of that was unbearable. My little guy (now 14) is so close to me, I call him my right arm man) I could not stand the thought of him not having me..at his graduation, his birthdays, Christmas, summers at the beach, and all of the things we moms get to enjoy with our children) I was devastated, and afraid at the same time. How did this happen? I don't want to leave my family, please God..let me stay..
One night I had an incredible dream and when I woke up I had the most best feeling...like I had a second lease on life. In my dream I was walking through a beautiful forest, peaceful and serene. I walked up to a house and opened the door and stood inside. In front of me was a huge pane window (like the ones you see at aquariums) From the corner of my eye I noticed a black panther with fangs, it was frightening and I noticed it had venom dripping from it's teeth. For a moment I felt trapped like if it came near me it would kill me for sure but just as I had that thought, I noticed the glass in front of me. I realized I was safe and then I heard a voice, very faint, say to me, "don't be afraid, you are being protected"
I just knew I was going to be ok. That panther, lurking in that beautiful forest, couldn't get me because of the protection of the window...what a gift I got that night because it helped me to relax my mind and calm my fears. When my mind wanders in the other direction, and it does, I remind myself of that dream. Have faith I say, if I have faith, I have no fear.
The day after I got the call about the cancer diagnosis I decided to call that office and ask them what I should do next. So I did and she stated very simply what my next course of action should be..and it goes like this..
First you need to find a surgeon, preferably a breast surgeon. You will schedule your surgery and when that is done and you heal, you will have to make an appt. with an oncologist. He will take it from there and direct you from then on out. So, that is what I did and after I had everything in place it went rather smoothly.
After the biopsy, the doctor that preformed the biopsy told me I needed to get an MRI of both breasts, so I did. It showed I had only one tumor. 
I didn't need to have a mastectomy Kathi. I had a lumpectomy with 5 lymph nodes removed.  I had one tumor 1.8cm in my right breast...the upper outer quadrant,  very close to my armpit. The surgeon was confident that he could get all of it and he said, "you won't even be able to tell you had anything done" he was right, my breast looks like it always did. But again, it's an individual thing, mine was close to my armpit, kind of away from the rest of my breast. Before my surgery, the docs did a Sentinel Node Biopsy (they inject dye into lymph nodes near the tumor and when the surgeon opens you up he removes the lymph nodes that lit up because most likely if any cancer cells travel, that is where they will travel first) If the ones he tests are negative for cancer, then he does not take any more out. I had 5 removed and they were all clean of cancer.  I am told this biopsy is fairly new and spares healthy lymph nodes, thus, reduces the chances of developing lymphodema.
After the surgery, when I woke up, my sister was standing over me. She was smiling so I knew it was good news and it sure was. I had NO positive lymph nodes, so as far as they knew, the cancer didn't spread. I had clean margins..which means they were able to remove the tumor and surrounding breast tissue and were able to get all the cancer. When they remove a tumor they check the surrounding tissue and if there isn't cancer in that tissue they call the margins clean.
As far as surgery goes, I got a great report.
Even though I had a triple negative tumor, I didn't have genetic testing done. I did ask my oncologist but he said it was not necessary because I have no family history. My father's sister had breast cancer at 57 and had a single mastectomy), but the hormonal kind. She just got another diagnosis, at 75, but it's so slow growing so she is going to be ok. She wants to do the mastectomy because she wants her breasts to match. I don't blame her, I would do it too.
So, first things first. Make that appointment with the surgeon. Who told you you needed a mastectomy? Is that your choice? What kind of tests have you had so far?
Oh and yes, I am on the east coast, Long Island New York..crazy land over here...so crowded. Have you ever been here? I've never been to the west coast..I always wanted to drive cross country. Hmmm maybe next year..;-)

Love and hugs,
Hang in there Kathi, everything will work out,
Jen
ahh, ok, I just read your post again Kathi and I see you are going to get the genetic testing done before you make your decision.
Do you have a family history?


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