In October in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness I will post a daily blog with a reflection about breast cancer. The reflections will stem from something in the play. (All quoted lines are text from the play.)
Day 14: The Switch is on. 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) We visited the breast surgeon five days later only to be told that the chemical and dye tests performed by the laboratory post-surgery revealed extensive cancer in Susan’s lymph nodes. In fact, 10 of the 17 nodes tested had evidence of breast cancer, putting Susan in one of the most high risk categories. The lab was so surprised themselves 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: Another day to have some fun. If your partner is a woman, you can help by also getting familiar with the texture of her breasts. I know, earlier in the month I made the assignment to check out the role of breast in intimacy. This time I’m saying pay attention to breast and the texture so you can share in the role of breast exams with your wife or partner. I suspect you might be willing to check things out more often than she does!
Resource of the Day: Some great guidance on self-care if you have dense breast to reduce the likelihood of cancer and to detect abnormalities early.