Things to know about Lumpectomy 

As I’ve already shared here, my breast cancer surgery was a lumpectomy, not a mastectomy. I am pleased that surgically my cancer could be treated with the lumpectomy. However, when people know that I had breast cancer and then realize I had a lumpectomy, sometimes they do say things that I find hurtful, or just wrong. Here are some of them:

1. Did you ever think of, you know, just cutting them off?
I get asked to this all the time, exactly like this, always with the “just”! It drives me crazy. First of all, I can guarantee pretty well any woman who has had breast cancer has thought of having a mastectomy. Secondly, there is nothing “just” about a mastectomy. It is a large and intrusive surgery, often requiring more surgeries for reconstruction. Though I have not gone through it, I can assume it is both physically and emotionally very difficult, even after reconstruction because reconstructed breasts are not the same as natural breasts, or even augmented breasts. Asking this question is both offensive to those of us who have not had mastectomies, and those of us who have. Rest assured all of us have thought about the options, discussed the options with our doctors, and made the best decisions we could with the information we had.

2. You are so lucky that it wasn’t that bad.
The fact that I did not need a mastectomy says nothing about how advanced my cancer was or was not. Firstly, although there are absolutely women that need mastectomies because of the way there cancer has spread or grown or because genetic or other factors greatly increase the risk of recurrence, there are also many women that could’ve had a lumpectomies but chose mastectomy is because they felt it would give them peace of mind (which I can completely understand, even though it was not what I chose). I have met women with both less and more “serious” cases than mine that have had both surgeries. Actually, if breast cancer has spread much beyond the breast, sometimes there is no surgery because there is no use to it (that’s right, there are women with cancer that is considered incurable that have had less surgery than me). Although I certainly do feel lucky that I was able to surgically be treated with a lumpectomy, I do not like when people assume that that means that the cancer was not as serious. It is very minimizing to me. My cancer was stage two, grade two, and made it to my lymph node. Although it was by no means the worst cancer diagnosis one could get, it wasn’t a minor little thing that was just cut out either. 

3. It’s her choice. Last weekend I was speaking to a friend of mine who told me about someone she knows who has had two  lumpectomies, when she discussed the fact that this woman had cancer had come back 11 years after the first, she said “well, was her choice to get a lumpectomy”, putting  blame squarely on this woman for having a recurrence of cancer. This is not fair. Research and statistics show that the risk of recurrence is the same for a lumpectomy plus radiation (which this woman had 11 years ago) or a mastectomy. Even had this woman had a mastectomy, the cancer could’ve come back, in the chest wall or somewhere else. It was not her fault it came back, it was not because she chose a less intrusive surgery, it was just bad luck. If it happens to me, I certainly hope nobody will play with me for taking the advice of my surgeon, mine colleges, and my radiation oncologist and going with a lumpectomy. 

Purple prettiness

I have been eyeing purple bags for a while now. Remember this one? and this one? They are both out of  the running now, both because they are old styles, and because I no longer purchase leather.

While perusing Amazon.ca, I fell in love with this bag. So I bought it, and it came last week. So pleased with it! Here is is, on my shoulder and on my desk. It is a great size to fit everything,has lots of interior pocket,  and an adjustable strap. I think Laurel and Sunset is a new addition to my animal free bag company list!

Getting better

I haven’t posted much in the last few weeks. Mostly because, for a little while, I had nothing good to say.

After I finished radiation my burns got worse for about a week. They were horrible and I was in a lot of pain with broken skin, blistering and oozing. It looked so bad it was seriously hard to believe that it would ever get better, but after about 11 radiation free days it started clearing up, and by last weekend it was almost normal again. It’s amazing how quickly skin that was so damaged looked normal again, but I’m pleased. 

In addition to suffering from the burns, I was very disappointed to learn I did not get a position at work I really really wanted. Now that I’ve had some time to process I realize it wasn’t right for me, not now anyway, and it was a given that I wouldn’t get it but at the time I applied and waited to hear and when I first found out it felt right…so not getting it hit me hard. Especially in the middle of dealing with the burns. Although the two things were not related, it still felt like getting kicked while I was down. Now I’m fine though, and happy to have a current position that I really like-both the work I do and the department I’m in-so I’m focussing on that. 

Anyways, I had a couple rough weeks both physically and emotionally…but I’m back on track now and looking forward to the rest of the summer! 

We visited Zoë at camp yesterday and spent a lovely evening in Haliburton, and are looking forward to visiting a friend’s cottage on the way home. 

Pics: 



books

One thing I hated about chemo was that I could not read. Even though I had time to read, for some reason I could not focus on books during chemo. Now, I can, so I have been reading voraciously to make up for it, both audio books and on my iPad. Here are some little reviews of some recent favourites:

 

1.The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

This was the story of a young boy and his single mother. The boy seems to have some sort of serious mental health issues. Janie loves him desperately, but is also at the end of her rope trying to make ends meet and meet her son’s needs and deal with all his “issues”. The book takes a rather mysterious and supernatural turn that I enjoyed. The book actually is interspersed with chapters from a book of true stories, that I also found fascinating. I wont share the nature of these true stories however, since it would be a bit of a spoiler.

 

2.You by Caroline Kepnes

A creepy first person book about a psycho stalker Joe Goldberg and his victim Guenevere Beck. Scary, creepy, tense and even funny. Like few things I have read before, and utterly addictive. I read the sequel Hidden Bodies right after…it was okay, but I would recommend taking some time between the two books and having a little break from Joe.

 

3.Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I LOVED Monsters of Templeton so I was certainly excited to read another book by Ms. Groff. Fates and Furies is a long and detailed book of a decades long marriage between a successful playwriter named Lotto (Lancelot) and his supportive wife Mathilde, a couple that meet in college. The book is told, from birth until they are in their 40s, first from Lotto’s point of view, and then from Mathilde’s. Similarly to Gone Girl I enjoyed reading different views of a marriage,  and how the same circumstances and same relationship can be sen very differently by the two partners. I also enjoyed the way that no detail in the book was unimportant…charecters came back again and again, and little incidents that seemed unimportant eventually showed up again as relevant.  Most of the characters in the book were unlikable, and there was a definite lack of realism in many of their life’s occurances…but the book was utterly readable and compelling.

 

4.The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE this woman’s books. All of them have such interesting stories and phenomena, but unlike some such books…she explains them and how they work so well, they don’t leave me with a headache. The Sudden Appearance of Hope is about Hope Arden, an utterly  (and literally) forgettable young woman. As a young teen, people just started to forget her. “Out of sight out of mind” is true for her, always. What is a girl who cannot be remembered to do? Steal. Among other things (short affairs, seek companionship however she can get it, bring down international conglomerates). The book was long and complicated…mystery, suspence, a bit of chick-lit, a touch of romance…and so very good.

 

 

Summer pet peeves 

This post is probably going to seem a bit bitchy, don’t care. My blog. My perogative.

Summer seems to always bring out behaviour that irks me, I have pet peeves that are pretty well exclusive to summer. Here are some of them:

1. Bragging. For some reason people that have a lot more money than us like to brag about it in the summer; posting nonstop on Facebook about the cottages, boats, pools, luxery vacations, expensive concert tickets. Far be it from me to say that people should never share the good times, but it takes a certain lack of insight, and level of narcissism, to literally be posting daily about how great your life is and how privileged you are, without recognizing (or caring) how it might impact on those with far less. 

2. Tan. I absolutely hate tans. When I was young I hated them because I was jealous of them, I am very pale and could never tan. As I got older I started to hate them because I thought they were stupid. I hated when people would tell me that I needed a tan, I hated the thought that my skin the colour I was born with wasn’t good enough or healthy enough looking. Eventually I discovered that someone I had been close to in university had died of melanoma, then I started hating tans because I know they can cause cancer. Now that I have had cancer, I hate them even more. I hate them almost as much as I hate smoking. I hate seeing people do something to themselves that could cause cancer, when as far as I know my cancer is a result of nothing that I knowingly did to myself, and I would do anything to avoid this hell. Even more than hating tans, I hate when people complement people on their tans. To me it’s like complimenting someone on smoking. It’s positively enforcing an activity that is proven to be physically unhealthy. When someone comes back from vacation with a tan and I hear everyone talking about how great it is, I have to hold back from being very very rude. 

3.  Barbecue. I hate seeing pictures of barbecued meat, I know that makes me a hypocrite because during my meat eating days I probably posted it sometimes, but I don’t eat meat anymore and seeing pictures of it is upsetting. All I can think of is that it’s a dead animal, and people are eating it. Of course people post pictures of meat meals all the time, but it happens more in the summer, because barbeque! Oddly, actually seeing people eat meat doesn’t bother me as much as scrolling through Facebook having to look at pictures of it. I’m not sure why, maybe because I’m more prepared for when I’m going out with people that I know eat meat, but scrolling through Facebook innocently and suddenly being confronted by a picture of a dead animal really disturbs me.