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Sunday, May 19, 2013

It's Only a Boob!

By now, you have probably learned of the incredibly courageous medical choice "superstar" Angelina Jolie made a few months back to undergo surgery for a double mastectomy. I have a friend who made a similar decision recently; my daughter Michele.

They, meaning the excellent team of medical professionals who are managing Michele's medical needs at this time, informed us that it is highly unusual for a person of Michele's age to be diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age. She's 39. There are exceptions of course. The risks increase when there is a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer in the family. Such is the case in our family. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her mid forties and both my aunts died of a form of hormonal cancer later in life.

Now I know for a fact that the mere mention of the dreaded C word rings loudly across the world however, this is important. By being reluctant to speak of the C word in our family, we were not aware of a simple non-invasive test that can be given to check for what "they" call genetic mutations which warns of a woman's or a man's increased genetic cancer risk. If you have a high risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer in your family, please talk to your health care professional about Genetic Testing.

Michele did not have to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. However, given the difficult choice of a lumpectomy or a mastectomy in the affected area, she bravely chose a mastectomy. Her exact words at that crucial moment to both me and the doctors were, "It's only a boob!" "It doesn't define who I am." That was about five weeks ago dear friends and I am here to tell you Michele and her family are doing emphatically well.

I've chosen to share this experience with you today for much the same reason Michele chose to share it with her followers on Facebook; now don't be offended by the following statement. It is meant in reality with a hint of jest, perhaps, it is best I have Michele tell you. This is what she posted on FB.

I woke this morning and went about my normal routine; got the kids off to school, checked Facebook on my phone, played a few games, then checked twitter. I don't "tweet" very much, but I do like to keep up with what's happening in the world of the people I "follow." This morning, of all mornings, I am extremely happy I did. I came across this amazing article that was posted. I am attaching it here and encouraging EVERY single one of my FB friends to read it and pass it on. But first, my story! On March 29th, I was diagnosed with Grade 1, Stage 2 ER+/PR+, Hers2-, Breast Cancer in my right breast. On April 11th, I had a right breast mastectomy to remove the cancer. At the same time a temporary implant was put in to do breast reconstruction. I have had the most amazing support, love, and help. I am so immensely grateful to my little circle of friends that knew. But now, I think everyone should know, not to feel bad for me, or to express sorrow (I am going to be just fine... I KNOW this!) but because I want EVERYONE to be informed. During this entire process my biggest concern has been awareness. Why didn't I know that there was a test to see if I carry the gene mutation which ups your risk for getting breast and ovarian cancer? Why aren't mammograms done sooner? Why didn't I know that if breast cancer runs in your family that you should be getting mammograms 10 years earlier than your family members' diagnosis? I wasn't informed, but I wasn't proactive either. So here it is, the article is written by Angelina Jolie and I think she is truly amazing. I am following her lead and being an example... LADIES, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLAY WITH YOUR BOOBIES!! (PS I found the lump myself.)

In order to insure all that nasty disease was removed during surgery, Michele will begin chemotherapy treatment on May 28th. Much like she has handled this entire situation, she is bravely preparing herself and her family for the next few months of treatment. She has an amazing support system around her. This year they have chosen to take the energy they would normally put into their Relay for Life activities into helping Michele and her family get past these next difficult months. As you can imagine, I too am praying for the path of least resistance. If Michele needs me to return to Idaho for any reason, I will be heading back to Idaho. The doctors assure us though that all will be just fine:)

On a lighter note, I must share with you Michele's plan for "adjusting" the kids to her possible of lack of hair after undergoing chemotherapy. As many of you know, kids just love to play "beauty parlor." I can't even tell you how many "creative" styles they have put my fairly short curly hair in to. Some have been downright hysterical!!! (no chance of me sharing those!) Well, Michele told the kids that they could play "beauty barlor" on her for real! This means both Tabitha and Noah with get a portion of her head of hair to cut, curl or color just as they please. Thankfully, one of her support "sisters" is a beautician who will be on hand to not only "tidy" up things but also record the entire beauty parlor process! Needless to say, as for this part of the treatment, the kids are excited! The are very disappointed in not being able to come back east this year, as we all are, but, we have reassured them that next year not only will they be able to visit but stay longer too!!! Tabi has a "date" with Tiffany's, and Noah intends on visiting Shea Stadium which I think recently has has had a name change but Noah won't mind:)

Which reminds me. While I was in Idaho, I was thrilled to attend the judged gymnastic tournament the kids were in. After two years of a bit of a hiatus, Noah decided to give it a try once more and let me tell you, he came back strong! I cringed though when he did his "tricks" on the rings!!! As for Tabi, she is quite the competitor. She was having a difficult time with her back hand springs right up until the moment of competition. However, not only did she nail them and overcome her other coursed obstacles she managed to take the Gold in her group! We were all very proud! Afterwards she confided to me that she thinks she competes better "when the pressure is on:)"

As for me, I'm hanging on tight and planning my next post. Yes dear visitors, before learning of Michele's health issues, I had intending on rejoining the world of blogging. Fact is, I miss you AND blogging tremendously!!! I need a bit of time to get things in order, Marion, the business and of course the garden which are all in need of much attention! It seems much of my world has been in suspension for the past few months but alas, Spring has sprung here in PA and although it has been much of a fog to me, it seems nature has a plan of its own. I returned from Idaho just in time for this:

Not One Bird's Nest but Three!!!

Here's Mamma with a mouthful of food for the nest in the gutter. As of today, the eggs in front of the shed have not hatched and the other nest is still empty. Why the second nest? I have no idea!!!

As for the garden, it seems the Sweet Woodruff adapted quite nicely under the pines. I know it may get a bit aggressive but the odor from those tiny white flowers are well worth it. And, after all, who knows, one day I may just decide to whip up a brew of some May Wine or Sweet Woodruff Wine for May Day!

With the exception of my Pineapple plant and the scented geraniums, the plants in the house didn't fare as well while I was away. However, I am slowly nurturing them back to their glorious days ever inspired by the floral bouquets of Rose Geraniums that greeted me on my return home:)

References
1. Genetic Testing: What You Need to Know