If you are here, then you know I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2023. Yes, I named my cancer. His name is Clyde. There is no significance to this, just that it helped me deal with it somehow.
I’m using my website as a way to communicate with people who want updates. Recent updates will be on top, older ones beneath. This will be like a public diary but I am going to ask for a few things:
- Don’t give me advice. I am putting my trust with the highly qualified doctors. Giving me diets or treatment advice is confusing.
- Don’t ask me how I am doing. If I want to share something, I’ll put it here. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, it’s just that I do not have the emotional energy to respond to everyone.
- Don’t pity me or feel sorry for me. Everyone is going through something. When I started running, everyone thought I was a badass because I had four kids. When I ran sub 3 marathons, everyone thought I was a badass because of my age. Now I am going to be a badass with cancer. I like adversity, I seem to thrive in it.
- Please don’t tell me to be thankful. Be thankful they caught it early. Be thankful it isn’t worse. Yeah, all that’s true. But then it leaves me feeling like – gee maybe I shouldn’t be terrified. Maybe I shouldn’t ask for help.
- Feel free to leave a comment below. I might not respond, but I certainly will read every one.
JUNE 27, 2023
Today’s random thoughts:
I am tired. I underestimated how fatigued I’d feel.
Also, I identify as a healthy, 41 year old woman.
AND THIS ISN’T FAIR! Want to know what increases your chance of breast cancer? Not being active, obesity, early menstration onset, starting menopause late, using birth control for a long period of time, not having kids, not breast feeding, having first child after the age of 30, alcohol abuse….. I DON’T HAVE ANY OF THESE RISK FACTORS. Some days…Why me?
JUNE 20, 2023
Intrusive thoughts + Cancer = FUN TIMES!
The other day when I was out running, everytime I went past a woman I wondered… do you have breast cancer? Have you had a lumpectomy? Do you have a mass and not know it? Have you had a masectomy? Statistically 1 in 8 women have had it or are currently being treated. I even saw one woman with one THO. I wanted to stop and tell her – hey that was a sign of cancer, but then she’d know I was looking at her….
Thankfully, I am really good at handling these thoughts (thanks childhood!). Don’t fight thoughts, accept them. Don’t judge them. I feel weird, almost embarrassed sharing this, but I know if I have thought it, so have others.
Here’s something else: While on vacation (aka mental health retreat), I’ve tried two new things: mountain biking and backcountry skiing. I noticed it engaged my brain so much that the unwanted thoughts stayed away. I am too busy learning, too focused.
I think I might take a math class when I get back.
JUNE 18, 2023
I’m going to share a little story. In October I went canyoneering for the first time with my son, Jonathan. Canyoneering is like hiking but on steroids. You climb over rocks, stem over water, and use ropes to help you navigate the canyon. I’m pretty short, so I don’t have much reach. At one point we came upon a blocked part of the canyon – rocks had fallen and were in our path. I just could not hoist my body up high enough. Jon kept offering his help, but I didn’t want it.
Why is it so hard for me to ask for help? I’ve never been good at it.
I did ask my friend Tina to help me. Here’s what that beautiful person set up:
* To defray the financial burden of the health expenses she will be charged with, I have set up a GoFundMe page. Please consider donating to alleviate the financial stress this challenge will necessarily entail.
* For the many times post surgery and during radiation when she may feel too run down or tired to cook herself a nutritious meal, I have set up a page on TakeThemAMeal. Please consider taking or sending a meal to ensure that she has the sustenance her body will require to recover from her treatments.
Thank you in advance for supporting Brenda in any way you can during this time. As her circle, we can be the source of help to her that she would be in an instant if the tables were turned. Any and every effort is sincerely appreciated.
JUNE 16, 2023
Today’s thoughts: I feel like my body has betrayed me. It has failed me.
I nourish it with healthy food. I get outside and exercise. I don’t drink much, don’t smoke, or do drugs. Yet, my body has betrayed me.
I’ve been in Montana with my son for a few weeks. Being with my kids is my happy place, especially when we are out doing adventures. I think that is why I promised myself to get outside everyday, despite diagnosis. I want to prove somehow my body hasn’t betrayed me.
I can still run. I can still hike. I can still bike. I just started mountain biking out in Montana. Not sure if this is a defense mechanism or I am in denial.
June 5, 2023
Most of the time I am doing ok. Focusing on what I NEED to do today and not stressing too much. But sometimes, it creeps me out. I am existing with this CANCER inside of me. I get panic attacks because I just want it out. I want to claw at myself and tear it out.
But I don’t, so that’s a win.
MAY 2023 – Path Report
I have a lot of science minded friends. Sharing this for them. In a weird, macabre way, I enjoyed researching what all this meant.
Histologic type: Infiltrating mammary carcinoma, no special type (infiltrating duct carcinoma) arising within areas of duct carcinoma in situ.
Histologic grade of infiltrating carcinoma: Nottingham Grade 2. Glandular/Tubular differentiation: 2, Nuclear pleomorphism: 3, Mitotic count: 1, Total score: 6
Histology of duct carcinoma in situ (DCIS): Nuclear grade: 3, Necrosis: Focally present as comedonecrosis, Architectural patterns: Solid, cribriform, and comedocarcinoma, DCIS as % of tumor: Approximately 80%, Microcalcifications: Present within areas of duct carcinoma in situ.
ER: Positive (100% positive, intensity – strong), PgR: Positive (70% positive, intensity – moderate), Her2: Negative (Score 0-1+)
How did I figure out something was wrong? Maybe TMI for some….
I was training for Boston and I noticed after my last long long run, my nipple was hard and wouldn’t go back to normal. Yes, a permanent THO. I thought maybe I had irritated it. I also noticed that during my taper I didn’t feel the usual RECHARGE. Boston was ok, not great. You know how you have a gut feeling something is wrong? Listen to it.
After Boston it started to hurt, so I made an appointment with my regular doctor. That lead to mammogram, which lead to a biopsy. I’ve always tried to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. I wasn’t surprised with the diagnosis. (By the way, if you have to get a biopsy, be prepared for some wicked bruising). In a sick way, I was glad to see it – physical evidence of the situation I guess.
I got the report when my science daughter and her husband were here visiting and they helped me decipher it. Diagnosis – Infiltrating duct carcinoma and duct carcinoma in situ. CANCER.