After four months of chemo and one month of recovery, it’s finally time for my breast cancer surgery. You, my readers, have sent me your kind regards and touching notes of support – they have been truly one of the richest blessings of this life-altering cancer journey. Your presence with me as I have walked this path has been a comfort and joy and I want to keep you abreast (yes, pun intended) of where I am in my treatment process.
As you know, I have breast cancer. My life changed in August when I also received the “two-fer” of both the cancer diagnosis and the revelation that I also carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. (Angelina Jolie and I share this; she is, needless to say, someone of whom I am very fond.) Having this gene mutation means that I had an up to 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer. It also means that I have an up to 50% risk of ovarian cancer: a “beast” I will tackle once my breast cancer treatment is over. My family has always known so little of our history, so the BRCA diagnosis was indeed a shock that no one saw coming. Needless to say, August 2013 was life altering at our house and at my office.
The good news is that I caught my breast cancer very early through a self-exam (so please everyone do them). The more difficult news is that the cancer is an aggressive type called “high-grade triple negative” and my doctors found another small tumor of the same type in my other breast. This is the kind of breast cancer that BRCA gene carriers usually have. Again, more good news is that this fast growing type of breast cancer often responds well to chemotherapy, so my doctors threw the roughest chemo at me for four months and my healthy body survived it. I am thankful.