Monday, October 1, 2018

Breast Cancer Awareness Month and My Story


Did you know that October is breast cancer awareness month? I knew it existed, but I didn't really know which month until a couple weeks ago.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. Yep. Dang.

I wasn't sure if I was going to share anything here, but I shared my medical stories and other things that have happened in my life with you in the past, so I decided to do this as well. For me, it is always very helpful to write what is in my mind. It is sort of therapeutic, I can organize and clear my thoughts. Also, I bet everyone's stories who went thought this is different and unique. I am hoping that what I write will raise awareness of breast cancer and help someone who reads this post.

When I heard the news, my world didn't shatter and crumble. It was rather a quiet and sinking feeling; "I. Knew. It".

After turning 40, I have been diligent about getting mammograms done annually. In January, I got my mammogram done and it was negative. Then, sometime in February, I noticed a discharge from my left side. It was a very small amount of clear liquid with a brownish tint. I thought, "ok, this is new...", I was also noticing a slight difference in texture in the area. As many of you might do, I googled. Once you do that it pulls out so many different articles, and the ones I read said, sometimes it happens. But, I decided to go to my family doctor to just check it out. He ordered me to have ultra-sound and I had it done, but they didn't really find anything. The lady who did my ultra sound was very thorough and nice. She showed me the image and explained what we are looking at. She didn't find any masses, what we saw was fibrous tissue with a bunch of "pockets". She told me to check in 6 month, but if anything changes I should go to the doctor right away. I thanked her and left the hospital, but deep inside, that result didn't sit well with me... I mean, I felt that there was something going on in my body.

Life is busy, months went by, and during that time the discharge continued. Then, one morning at the end of May, I noticed that the discharge changed in color and texture significantly. It was dark brown and thicker.

I called my doctor right away and got an appointment. When they tested the discharge, it contained blood. He referred me to a specialist in the area. I believe I had about a 2 weeks wait, until I was able to see her. I will tell you, that is the worst. I don't know about you, but I am the type that wants to know now. I don't want to wait. If there is anything wrong with my body, I want to know now and take care of it as soon as possible.

When I first met Dr. Tittensor, she listened to me, talked with me, explained what we are going to do to figure things out. Her presence and how she treated me made me feel so much better and I really felt like I can trust her. We did an ultrasound there, but still we didn't have a clear answer to what was going on. She ordered an MRI and also a biopsy to check things out. At the same time, we decided to schedule surgery to remove the bleeding duct, as well as check the area that is a different texture.

The MRI and biopsy results came back... and guess what, it was still "inconclusive"!!!! I was pretty frustrated about all this, also I kept feeling that this is not, nothing, something is going on.

I had surgery to remove the bleeding duct as we planned. During the surgery when the doctor looked at the area, she said it looked abnormal, so she took 8 samples from various areas to test them. For thoroughness sake, she also took 3 lymph nodes. The lymph nodes tested negative. It went well and I had a follow up appointment set up in 6 days. Day 5, I received a call from my doctor... she apologized for doing this over the phone. I think she wanted to give me a heads up and give me sometime to think about what I wanted to do. I do indeed have breast cancer. DCIC (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) What this means is that the cells that line the milk ducts of the breast have become cancerous, but they have not spread into the surrounding breast tissue. DCIS is considered non-invasive or pre-invasive breast cancer. It is considered stage 0. They found cancer in 7 of the samples they took. The doctor suggested to take all of them out and I wanted to do the same. Now that I have this, the chance for me to have cancer in the other breast is 50%. I didn't even hesitate; I just decided to go for a double mastectomy in October.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my post, my initial feeling was feeling of assurance. I finally got the answer I knew all along. I am not happy that I have cancer, but isn't it better to find out as soon as possible and deal with it so I can have the best chance of survival?

I have experienced lots of emotions since then. I don't talk about this often here, but I am a Christian. Ever since I was little, I knew God is real and always there for me. I couldn't explain why, but that is something I felt. As I was praying and talking to my Heavenly Father, I was telling how frustrated I am. "REALLY?! I was born with a disorder and two other rare conditions, and I have been dealing with them all my life, you know, it isn't easy, how much more do I need to take? I thought I met my quota a looong time ago! Wasn't there any other volunteers for this challenge?" TALK. ABOUT. THE. ATTITUDE.

But, my mind quickly shifted and started seeing all the blessings I have been given through out my life and even during this discovery of breast cancer. Yes, it was frustrating how long it took for us to find out what was going on, but how quickly we were able to get things scheduled since May, and I was able to be introduced a doctor I can trust; isn't that amazing?! I am so grateful for my friends and family. I can't even begin to tell how much their kindness and support means to me. Then, my family... I always knew I have such a wonderful husband and children, but this new challenge in life made me realize how blessed I truly am. I know my husband will be there to support me 100% and my children are ready to help more around the house. They started cooking more to practice for the up coming surgeries. Their hugs are little bit tighter and longer. I wouldn't write every single one of them, but I see many of the Lord's tender mercies all along the way.

Once I was diagnosed, I feel like a door was opened to a new world. I learned so much about breast cancer in such a short period of time and started noticing more things. The word "Cancer" is so scary, but with early detection your survival rate is very high. The main reason why I decided to share my story here is that a couple of my friends who I got to know through blogging both shared their breast cancer stories in the past and made me more aware of it. One of them is Andy of A Bright Corner's story; how she found it and where it was is very similar to mine, and when it happened to me, I immediately remembered her post. I am so thankful that she shared her story and it definitely made me more alert! My hope is that by me posting about my story here, it might help someone is someway. It is our body and it is so important to listen to your gut feeling. I have been through so much testing and they all came back negative or inconclusive!! But, when you feel there is something wrong, you need to pay attention to that. Please, please and please do take good care of yourselves, ladies!


Lastly, when I was at the doctor's office, she gave me a small heart shaped pillow. Because their office was busy and delayed, she was apologizing as she handed me the pillow. I thought to myself, "is this part of the sorry gift??". NO. Remember, I was just begging to learn about different things about breast cancer. The heart shaped pillow is for her patients who had surgery to place under the armpit to give comfort while recovering. I asked her if she made it and she said one of her patients, or a volunteer made it. I was touched by a stranger's kindness and at the same time, I had an "AHA" moment. I can make this for others! Since than, I made some to donate and it has been good for me. All my life sewing has been more than just a domestic thing to do, it is how I express myself, it has helped me through my medical journey while growing up, as well as the lonely and difficult times after I moved to the United States. I love creating something fun for my loved ones. Now, as I am making those little pink heart shaped pillows, it is helping me to sooth my soul as well as give me joy that I can do something to lift others who might be going through the same thing even if it's only in a minuscule way.

I attached the pattern for you to download if you want to make some. 1 in 8 women is affected by breast cancer, you might be able to make one for your loved ones or donate to your local hospitals.



Thank you for reading this lengthy post, I appreciate it. Also, don't forget to have your check ups!





29 comments :

  1. Thank YOU for sharing your story! It is so important to talk about this issue and for women to look after themselves. All the very best for your upcoming surgery. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. So sorry to hear that, Sachiko. Thankfully you listened to that inner voice and persisted with finding out what was wrong. You have a wonderful family to support you and I am sure many of us around the world will be praying for you. Big hugs from Australia.

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  3. Friend first know I love you...I have from the moment we met. Second, the way you described getting the news you had cancer (a quiet and sinking feeling, I KNEW IT), was EXACTLY how I felt when I received the call that I was BRCA1+ and would have to make the choice to do extensive screening for the rest of my life or have a double-mastectomy and have my ovaries removed. I chose to have the surgeries...many times during the healing I really question if what I chose to do was the right thing, but almost 5 years later I'm so THANKFUL I did!! Best part is I don't have to wear a bra most days (wink)!! HUGS & PRAYERS

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  4. Hugs, strength, and God's blessings be with you! Cancer is so scary and is so prevalent, not caring who, when or where it shows up. I have several friends who've gone through a double mastectomy and are so happy, they too, found it early. You are blessed to have been aware of your own body changes and made decisions to find out right away. God will sustain you through this!

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  5. I just read your blog post and want to share some words of comfort or support but i don't know what to say except that i am sending positive vibes your way and hope your surgery is successful.

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  6. Your attitude is going to be a huge factor in how you face this! Since you have stated you are a Christian, listen to "Healing is in His Hands" by Christy Nockels. I was diagnosed with DCIS in October 2015 and this song was my mantra. I too opted for bilateral mastectomy. I selected to have reconstruction but took the opportunity to go from a DD to a B/C. If you are going the reconstruction route, I would urge you to work on exercises that strengthen your core and maintain posture. It will help with your healing and overall well being.

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  7. Hola Sachico! Gracias por compartirnos tu experiencia y también por el molde para el cojín. La verdad es digno de admirar la actitud con la que enfrentas esta experiencia por la que estás pasando. Te tendré en mis oraciones y deseo que la cirugía sea exitosa.
    Recibe un fuerte abrazo desde Venezuela.

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  8. God Bless you for sharing your story, Sachiko. I will keep you in my prayers.

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  9. Thank you for the reminder about trusting our own bodies! I am very sorry you are having to go through this!

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  10. I am offering my prayers to you Sachiko. I also believe in God.
    Please know that you are not alone and we can help.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story

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  11. Thank you so much for sharing your ordeal, just like the other blogger shared hers and it helped you realize you aren’t alone. We women have to stick together and help each other!

    All the best with your coming surgery. Take care of yourself and your loved ones take care of you. I look forward to seeing your lovely creations in the future!

    Cheers,
    Laurie

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  12. Thank you for sharing. My mom and gram had breast cancer, my aunt just had a double mastectomy, and a client is currently undergoing treatment. We are all affected in some way by this disease and I feel like the more we share, the more we open up to learning. Sending prayers your way, for you and your family. You are strong and brave!!!!

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I pray for healing for you.

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  14. I'm so sorry about this. You have a good attitude. I'll remember you in my prayers.

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  15. Sachiko, we have never met, but you know my sister, Marnie G. 😊 I am glad you are going to be well! Thank you for the pillow pattern, it is an excellent charity donation project. I have a friend who passed away two years ago from a different kind of cancer, I plan to sew some of these and donate them in her honor. I'll be thinking about you and praying for you this next month . Take care!

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  16. Thank you for sharing this. The information is so helpful as a reminder to listen to what our body is telling us and to not ignore it. Good luck with your surgery and recovery! Hugs and prayers!

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  17. Sachiko, I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis - I know how much you've already had on your plate (platter, really), and this really doesn't seem fair. Your positive outlook, though, and your faith will carry you through. Don't hesitate to ask your neighbors and friends to help, especially if they offer. God humbled me so much during my surgeries by leaving me unable to do everything for everyone else - I had no choice but to ask for help. By doing so, I was able to see God's hand in the fulfillment these people felt while doing what they could for me. Sometimes, it was amusing. I had to call my neighbor over to put my deodorant on for me, as I couldn't move my arm at all myself. We had a good laugh about that! My sons each took on an important task - one did the family laundry (age 11), and one did the meals (age 8, believe it or not). The blessing? They learned to do this at an early enough age that they continued to do their own laundry from then on, and both of them can cook pretty well. One day I wanted my hair up in a pony tail or a braid or something - the boys couldn't do it, my husband refused to try, my dad just gave me a blank look, and the neighbor who helped with the deodorant had only had sons so she didn't know how to fix girl's hair, either. I went down the street to ask my other neighbor, and she went to find her husband - turns out that HE was the one who had always done his daughters' hair when they were young, so he ended up putting my hair up for me. You never know how people can help you out until you ask! And so many people wanted to do something to help, so I started keeping a list of simple things to ask for - it became such a blessing to see the joy in their faces when they would show up to assist somehow, or bring something from the store!
    I wish you much luck on your journey - this won't be easy on you, I'm sure. You will be in my prayers from now on, until things are resolved. Be still, and know He is there.

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  18. Thank you for sharing your story! I will be more aware because of it. I pray for you, and for our Father to hold you every step of the way!

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  19. Thank you for sharing your story. We really do have to trust our instincts and take care of our health.

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  20. We love you, Sachiko! Thanks for sharing your story. We will be praying for you!!

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  21. Sachiko,

    Thank you for sharing this very personal story! I am so glad you found the cancer early and they were able to remove it. Your story will help many, many people I think. Big hugs to you!

    Amber Johnson
    Gigi's Thimble

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  22. Sachiko, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I cried while I read it. Thank you also for reminding us to get checked! I am overdue and at 64, I still need to go. I wish you a quick recovery and I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Love from Cape Cod��

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  23. thank you for this beautiful post! I"ll be praying for your recovery!

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  24. Sachiko - thank you so much for sharing your story and a way for others to provide comfort to women going through breast cancer. Sending love and wishing you the best in your recovery. Thank you for all that you share and do!

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  25. I too was diagnosed with DCIS in September. My bilateral mastectomy is scheduled for Nov. 9.

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  26. God bless you and continue to keep you in the palm of His hands. Thank you so much for sharing your very personal experience. None of us know what is ahead and I value what you have shared so much. Love in Jesus, Louise

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  27. I am thankful for this post!
    I will be making the pillow, thank you for sharing it,
    I found out last week that I have breast cancer, sewing these will be good therapy

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  28. I can't believe no one commented on your post. Thanks for sharing your story. Ladies need to be aware and be there own advocate...and get your mammogram!
    I, too, am a breast cancer survivor. I had a strange feeling area in my left breast that doctors thought was just dense tissue. But, follow-up with ultrasound prompted a fancy biopsy. Then two lumpectomies, with a result cancer still evident. I had a mastectomy and have been cancer-free for just 1 1/2 years. As a friend told me, you become a member of a sorority you never pledged for or wanted to be in when you are diagnosed with BC.
    I love the pillow idea and will be making some for my oncologist's office. Did you use just cotton fabric or was it fleece or flannel? They look softly stuffed as well...not too firm.
    Thanks again and stay strong!

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  29. Thank You so much for sharing, for wanting to survive, for wanting to truly live! You are a blessing to us.
    About the heart pillow, it is bigger than I thought. I imagined this wee pillow that pit in your arm pit. With the 1/4" seam allowance, it is still big. I guess the idea is that each heart lobe fit on either side of your arm? Can you show me a picture of it under your arm?
    Keep sewing, keep sharing, we love you.

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