In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I post a blog each day with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections all stem from something in the play. (All quotes are from lines in the play).
Day 18 The Switch is On: “Five days later and we visit Dr. Happy for the first routine, post-surgery exam. Dr. Happy isn’t looking so happy and once again he is reluctant to start. The Chemical and Dye Report is back and the lab say that they in fact there is cancer in the lymph nodes. They test 17 nodes, 10 had evidence of cancer.” The Actual Dance
Yesterday I wrote about the role of lymph nodes in carrying the cancer from the breast primary site to other organs in the body. I quoted the statistic that with breast cancer in the lymph nodes it is 33% more likely to metastasize to other organs in the body than if it is not in the lymph nodes. So when we got the preliminary report based on the visual exam under the microscope during the mastectomy that there was no cancer in the lymph nodes I was cautiously elated. (I know, that sounds like an oxymoron.) Then when we visit the Doctor, he tells us that this was a mistake. In fact the lab was so surprised at the chemical reports that they went back to look again at the slides they looked at during the surgery (they said they saw NO evidence of cancer.) Now that they knew what they were looking for they could tell it was visible in the tissue they removed during the surgery. “They had just missed it.” A few days later we get a new lab report in the mail, with “words on the last page, words that I don’t think I will ever forget. ‘On further review the diagnosis is changed.’” My brief flirtation with the possibility that “everything might just turn our okay” ended abruptly. Once again I “know how this story was going to end.” Susan, well that is her own story. What I can say is she never at any point in this journey indicated either that she was worried or that she doubted her own survival.
Stat of the Day: While having dense breast can increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer four to five fold, it does NOT increase the risk of death according to a study reported by the National Cancer Institute.
Task of the Day: As long as we are talking about high risk of death – I hate that word – might as well make sure that all the paper work is in place. Do you have a medical directive? Is it up to date and specific? Do you both have power of attorney? Has it expired? And take a look at your will – what, you don’t have one? Fix it.
Resource of the Day: If you are getting up to speed on breast cancer, here is a great resource for information on the role of lymph nodes.
The Actual Dance: Performances. Donate.