It’s been two years since my docs at the Huntsman Cancer Center gave me a scoot on the butt and sent me on my merry way. But I come back- every six months. And every six months my reserve is tested. I’m given a mammogram or MRI, then asked to sit in a room. If you’ve never had a cancer scare, the best way to describe this wait is – remember when you went to took your first HIV test and the clinic called to say your results are in but that you had to see them in person? You couldn’t get the news over the phone. That time between the phone call and the chat. That’s what it feels like to have an MRI or Mamm now. Before 2009, a mammogram would have been routine. Like getting a flu shot or blood test. Now there’s always that ‘what if?’ And judging from tales of relapses, the ‘what if?’ never goes away.
I read a post on my FB page today. Longtime Salt Lake City news anchor Mary Nichols was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. I felt like I had to respond personally. When it happened to me I knew NO ONE with cancer. My aunt had died of pancreatic cancer in 2002 so I couldn’t talk to her. My colleague Joni heard through the grapevine and reached out to me. I had no idea. Like me, she showed the cancer card on a need to know basis. It helped to just hang out with her for coffee. We would breeze in and out of the subject but mostly it was nice to sit awhile with someone who knew what I was going through.
So I went on Mary’s blog to write this:
Hi Mary- We don’t really know each other but we have a bunch of mutual friends in the industry. I often forget that I have a breast cancer story. It’s the occasional weird look of concern and the way someone asks “how are you doing” that reminds me; or seeing a post like this on FB.
I’m so sorry to hear that you’ll have to go through what I did. It was quite an excruciating process. As a reporter, I too dug and dug, did all my research, even spoke personally with Doctors outside of Utah.
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Breast cancer in 2009, had a lumpectomy and there was no spreading to the lymph nodes (they can’t know until surgery). They say they got it all with surgery but I still went through chemo and radiation based on results from what’s called an oncotypeDX test (developed here in Utah!).
Now, I go in every 6 months for either a mammogram or MRI. So far, still clean. I have my next MRI next week. Anyway, I just want to say that your journey will be personal to you. No matter how hard you search for similarities. So don’t let ANYONE tell you stories of people in their life that have had cancer unless it has a positive outcome. You don’t need it.
Here is the chronicle of my bout with breast cancer.
If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. I get it.