01 May 2011

Going Public: Anush vs. Breast Cancer -- Round Two

Today is May 1.  It's the eve of my surgery.  It's hard to believe that my annual mammogram was just a little over a month ago.  So much has happened. 

Almost 18 years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  At that time, my children were young, 6 and 12.  I was only 34.   My life was turned upside-down.  Initially, my surgeon said we should do a double mastectomy.  He said at my age (young for this diagnosis), the chances of recurrence were greater, so it would be best to remove both breasts as a preventative.  But the oncologist I went to for a second opinion disagreed.  After reading clinical trials, getting more information, we came to the decision that I would have a lumpectomy and a daily six-week course of radiation therapy.  I did.  And I survived. 

Of course, that wasn't the only treatment.  It took a lot more than that.  The love and care from my family and friends, the endless prayers that were said for me, and the belief that those prayers were being heard and answered.  And positivity.

Eighteen years have past since then.  I've been an advocate for breast cancer issues.  I've walked the walk (literally, countless miles in breast cancer walks)...and talked the talk, dragging friends and loved ones with me.  I've made friends because of breast cancer, and I've lost friends that have lost the fight.  I've been vigilant about my annual mammograms.  And I've been thankful for every single day of my life since then and for every report I get back each year saying that my films came back normal.

This year, I got a different result.  Instead of the "all clear" letter, I got a call back.  They needed me to come in for more views.  The doctor had found an "area of concern".  The further views warranted a biopsy, and within a week, I was diagnosed again with DCIS...same as last time, except this time, there were some areas of infiltration.    The good news:  It's early stage yet.  The bad news:  Because of my past  history with cancer and radiation, I will need to undergo a mastectomy.

That was only a month ago.  Since then I've had to meet with the surgeons, deal with insurance, submit paperwork for my disability leave and FMLA, get my work in order for my leave, have MRI's, and appointments, etc.  Basically, it's been a "Calgon-take-me-away" kind of month. 

I have had to tell my family (of course) and listen to their concerns, fears, hopes, encouragement.  There have been countless prayers said, and I am touched by the texts and emails that I have gotten tonight by friends and family who are lifting me up in prayer and good thoughts. 

Although I did tell my family and a few friends, I decided not to share this news with everyone.   I've debated about it.  Why not?  I suppose it's that "look" of sadness that comes over people's faces when they hear the "C" word.  And then the tone in their voices.  I didn't want that.  If I'm going to fight this, I need to surround myself with POSITIVE ...and only positive.  I need to be in my best game.  But the other part of me wanted to share.  Why?  Because I know that I'm not the only one going through this.  I know that there are women out there who are going through it now (or maybe kids whose moms are...or aunts, sisters, even fathers and brothers)...and don't know if they'll make it.  And I wanted to offer them some hope.

On this eve of my surgery, I decided to go public.  Round Two...I'm ready!  I'm in a different "head" now than I was 18 years ago.  I am stronger in my faith.  I am healthier (despite the cancer), and I've been through it before.  I don't have that "fear of the unknown" thing going on, although I am not looking forward to the pain of recovery.  I am not afraid.  I have hope.  I have love.  I have faith. 


Suzie Shatarevyan said...

And you have family and friends who have your back. You're a godly woman with so much inner strength. You're a hero for many. Sending you positive thoughts, energy and love. God is with you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am sorry you have to go through this, but I know you will kick its @ss. I wish you luck and God speed on all of this.

George said...

Sharing this blog already says everything about you. Anushig, you're a very courageous person. Having the kind of faith that you have is itself a healing process. You have always given hope to othersand strenghtened their faith. Now, you have your family and friends' support all the way. No doubt, God is watching over you!

Anonymous said...

Anush--my heart aches that you are going through this a second time. You are an extraordinary woman, filled with love and compassion for so many. I, along with the many who love you, will be lifting you up in prayer and sending you the caring you give so freely. We will get through this bump in the road. I'm thinking of you today and wishing I could see you to give you a hug and kiss. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers will have to suffice since I am so far away! Xoxo, Carolyn

Star said...

I love you Friend!! From the moment I met you, so many years ago, I KNEW you were the strongest woman I'd ever meet. Your calmness has always been something I've admired and tried to emulate. If there's someone that can beat this, it's you baby!!

Love you madly and will be thinking and praying for you!

See you soon and good luck!!!!