Whew! Talk about a breast cancer marathon. From the shocking diagnosis to my double boobectomies, the implants of my bionic boobs and subsequent challenges of taking estrogen-suppressing and depressing pills, I’ve finally crossed the five-year finish line. Hang on while I catch my breath.
I couldn’t have done it without you, my readers, my family, and friends who cheered me on every step of the way. This blog has been a life-saver. Literally.
When I posted my first Boob Report in May of 2013, I recounted the shock of learning I had cancer. It included the hilarity of simultaneous scheduling madness by two Evelyns, each on different phone calls and ears. What wasn’t funny was the misinformation that I hadn’t been in for a mammogram for three years. It was enough to freak out with the alarm of a phone call after a routine exam, but three years?
I had my mammogram two years before in 2011 and had skipped a year. This every other year plan had been recommended by insurance companies. Since I had rare lobular cancer, (like skinny fingers as opposed to ductile round tumors) the tumor wouldn’t have shown up on the mammogram the year before. Skipping the year I was diagnosed would have been a disaster. That’s why I recommend getting an ANNUAL mammogram.
Anyway, this started a process of testing. I had no idea how severe my cancer diagnosis would be. I wondered if I would be alive at Christmas. Think of how scary that is.
After the MRI, they discovered the tumor was 19 mm long. Stage one. By a hair. My oncologist said the MRI couldn’t catch the edges of the tumor and to plan on stage two diagnosis since it would be at least 20 mm. I would have radiation and possible chemo.
I planned to get a Wild Rider henna tattoo and rock my bald head.
Then a miracle happened.
After that first blog post, a blogger named Maria at Swimming into My Fifties did something extraordinary. She contacted bloggers via email. Some had thousands of followers.
The day of my double mastectomies, I woke up super-charged, stoked that I’d be rid of cancer by day’s end. I had no fear or doubt. When I met with my reconstruction surgeon before the surgery, I joked about the nipple cupcakes my friends served at my Boob Send Off party.
Annagiulia and Betta
Lots of fantastic friends attended the party hosted by Karin Waters, who later organized my meals.
Little did I know that at the same time, over forty bloggers would host #SusieStrong Day. Some were hilarious. Others were so touching, my tears flowed. Looking back I still get shivers and my eyes well up. No wonder I was so happy.
I knew Maria and the blogging gang took the hashtag to Twitter but I must have only looked at the “Top” feed. Today, I clicked on “Latest” and scrolled back to 2013. There were so many well-wishers! Seriously. I am so lucky.
Many people prayed that day. When I think of all the blog views and how some said they would put me on their church’s prayer chain, there must have been thousands.
I am humbled and eternally grateful to each and every one of them.
The bloggers who still have sites and blogged #SusieStrong posts make up my Bosom Buddy Blogroll. I will be forever indebted and send all kinds of positive vibes and prayers to all of you! If you’re reading this and you wrote a post, let me know.
August McLaughlin made this for me after our blog meet-up in California!
So when my results came in, my oncologist seemed surprised to see my tumor had shrunk a little. I knew why. Now you do too.
I just got another shiver.
So when some people choose to go through cancer privately, I totally understand their choice. Everyone is different. It can be an added challenge to go out in public when some people make well-intentioned but rude comments. I will tell anyone who is in the first or second year of recovery and survival, it gets easier.
AND NOW IT’S OVER!
In five years, I’ve written twenty Boob Reports. This is my twenty-first. Commenters have given me tons of support. I appreciate every one of you!
The fog of the drug is lifting. I have a lot more energy. Ha! Yes, that is possible. I have a few more posts to write and then The Boob Report will become a book some day. In the meantime, feel free to share them with a friend who has been diagnosed. Some will crack you up too!
“Heck, yes, they’re fake. The real one’s tried to kill me!”
Do you fight setbacks with humor?
Twenty humorous and hopefully inspirational breast cancer stories: