Sunday, March 3, 2013

How I Told Everyone About My Breast cAncer...

I have copied and pasted my post on Braden's Caring Bridge Site from February 17, 2010. 

It's the post in which I told everyone I had breast cancer.

I didn't have the energy to call everyone. I did send an email to my closest friends the night before the post. The only call I made was to one of my brothers and I asked him to call my dad. I just couldn't do it.  Everyone found out at the same time, with a handful of exceptions. Not really something I'm proud of, but it is what I had the energy to do.

I remember being mad, just mad...and so worried about how I was going to find time to go to my appointments while Braden was fighting for his life and had a less than 10% chance of survival.  I didn't give a crap about MY cancer, my only heartache and fear was for HIS cancer!

I knew how long and drawn out this process was, and I didn't want to miss a minute with Braden because we were sure he was going to die. I knew I would be in the hospital a lot but I was determined to get up and keep going so I didn't miss a single minute longer than I had to miss!

I was looking through my CB posts tonight and found this one...I hadn't planned on finding it, it just appeared.

I thought it would be an interesting one to share with you!!

We initially thought nodes were not involved, a couple of days after my mastectomy, we learned they were involved so I had a second surgery to remove more lymphnodes. That earned me chemotherapy, a lymphodema risk, and the loss of my long hair. That was what was the hardest for me. Otherwise, GAME ON!!!

It's hard to believe this was three years ago, it seems like yesterday...

...and at the same time, it seems like a millions years ago.

I still stand by my words, focus on Braden and do not blame God. He didn't give EITHER of us cAncer!!

Hugs! :)

Hi Army,
I know many of you worry when I post earlier than I had planned but everything is okay with Braden. I do have news for you though and I thought it might be better absorbed tonight when many of you are at home rather than tomorrow at work. It probably just easier to read it when you have more time.

Five days before we left for Braden’s second MIBG in Philly (beginning of January) I found a lump in my right breast. I went to see my OB before we left, who also felt it. We began all of the testing once we returned from Philly. This Monday, I got the call that the biopsy results were in and it was a malignant mass. It is a stage 1, grade 2, invasive ductal carcinoma. The pathologies came back the day we met with the breast surgeon and it was relatively good news. For those of you who have gone through breast cancer or know someone who has, this tumor is receptive to estrogen and progesterone, and the HER2-neu is negative (level was positive one). The ki67 level was 9% and they want it to be less than 10%. If you are like me and really wouldn’t know what those meant before now, this website was very helpful to me in understanding what this stuff really is.
if you are interested in more info. The bottom line is that the pathologies were favorable for a good prognosis.

I have elected to have a double mastectomy. We don’t think there is cancer in the left breast yet but I do not want to take a chance of developing it later on in life. Once you have breast cancer in one breast, you have an increased chance of getting it in the other one. I will have an MRI next week to help us confirm that the left breast looks okay and get more information about the lymphnodes. Right now we do not believe they look like they have cancer in them. The MRI will tell us more and when they do the surgery they will do a sentinel node biopsy to find out for certain. If you want to pray for something specifically, pray it is not in the nodes. I stand a better chance of not needing chemo if it’s not there. I’m not afraid of chemo but you know as well as I do that I would FAR rather spend my time with Braden and Zach right now than hooked up to an IV pole. We still do not know how long Braden has left and I don’t want to miss a minute. We will figure out what other treatments I need post surgery and with additional genetics information I will be getting as well.

I will meet with a genetic counselor in the hope we can learn other information through testing that will help determine treatment after surgery and whether or not this could be something that the boys could get later. Yes, males can get breast cancer. I do not have a history of breast cancer in my family but I could be the first to start the chain. I will meet with the plastic surgeon and genetic counselor the day after we return from Philly. We think surgery will be in mid to late March. I am aggressively going after this cancer! I am determined to win this battle! I have HAD it with cancer!

Who knows why these things happen. I’ve seen a lot of people put themselves through endless weeks and months of agony wondering why things happen. The truth is, I can ask that question but I’m not going to get an answer in this lifetime so it’s pretty much wasted energy to even wonder. I prefer to focus on enjoying EVERY moment we have today and letting the big questions/decisions be handled by God. I am NOT scared of this cancer. I have spent 2 years terrified for Braden and I’m going to stick with that and continue to be terrified for Braden but THIS cancer does not scare me. It’s tough to explain but when you are told you son who has only lived for five years (2 of those years being poked and prodded, having chemo/transplant/radiation, numerous surgeries and procedures and done to him) now has a relapsing, refractory disease for which there is no known cure, this just doesn’t seem that bad. It is certainly not a preferred diagnosis or future but the word the describes how I feel about things right now is simply determined. I am going to beat this cancer and it is going to be sorry it EVER messed with momma bear.

So how can the army help? First of all, please try to not be angry at God. This is not His work!! Performing miracles like having Braden Hofen with us today, feeling good and acting like a little boy should because he feels well enough to do it IS His work! We have SO MANY BLESSINGS! I know many of you will be angry but I am asking you to instead look at the glorious miracle God has given us. What I have is very beatable! Braden’s is not very beatable but he is STILL HERE! All in all…not bad!! So be thankful for us, appreciate life with us and celebrate each moment. I knew good and well that this was the likely diagnosis when I wrote the post about Braden’s Race on April 18. I was not kidding when I said that I want us to all celebrate together--even if you can’t be here for the event that day--we need to celebrate together. Yup--there’s bad stuff, yup--we are getting plenty BUT no matter what, we are thankful for what we have TODAY! I have said all along that none of us knows how much time we have--LIVE IT!!!!!!!!!!! Take detours and celebrate!! KEEP HOPING AND PRAYING FOR BRADEN! When we go back to Philly on March 2-3, we simply have to get good news again or we are done. We need to focus on that right now--it’s the priority--FOCUS ON BRADEN!! I believe in Braden and I believe in the power of thoughts and prayers and we have GOT to continue ours for him. Please keep spreading the word about Braden and continue to believe in him and in miracles!! I learned how to be brave and how to fight from my 5 year old, I also learned how to live every moment (even the cruddy ones) with joy and gratitude in my heart! We can do this too army--we can!!

Much love to you all!