My story, part 1: “That’s cancer!”

My story.

What is “my story?” I don’t really know. You see, if a story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, I’m not exactly sure where I am in the story. Possibly still at the beginning. My story is still so fresh that sometimes it’s still hard for me to talk about it. But I have — talked about it, that is — just not at one sitting, or in one blog post. It comes in bits and pieces, and even then, I find that certain things are left out, unsaid. It’s not that I mean to be mysterious, deceptive, or a liar by omission. It’s just some kind of emotional survival instinct, I think. I tell what I can. I tell, bit by bit, what I can get through. It’s kind of how I’m getting through my journey with cancer — bit by bit, day by day. A little at a time. If I look at the whole thing, I get overwhelmed. So I break it down, and I take it as it comes. The telling of the story is the same — I break it down, and I tell as much of it as I’m able. It’s all that I can do.

My name is Judy and I was 46 years old when I found out that I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC). I knew that I had a lump on my left breast — not always the case with IBC — and I scheduled an annual with my family Dr. Long story short, from the mammogram, I was sent to a surgeon with the personality of the table that I’m currently typing on who examined my breasts, sat back, and nearly barked at me:

That’s cancer!

That was December 20, 2007.

The short version? From various tests that I went through in basically a fog, from the end of December to the middle of January, 2008, I learned not only that I had Inflammatory Breast Cancer, but that it had metastasized to my liver and there were spots on my lungs that they couldn’t verify were cancer but may have been.

That is the beginning of my journey into the world of cancer, a journey I never would have willingly taken part of, a journey that has changed my life and that of my family forever. It’s certainly not over.

In fact, at the end of this month, June 2008, I’m scheduled to have a CT scan that will probably show that I’m OK to finish up chemotherapy and have a mastectomy of my left breast at the end of July/beginning of Aug.

Come along with me as I face the next steps of my journey, and as I share more of my journey here on this blog. I’ve also shared quite a bit of what I’ve been through on my personal blog, Just Enjoy Him: Ramblings of a Mid-Life Mom.

Stick around here, though, and you’ll get more of the story. Like I said, it just has to be told bit by bit. It’s just how I am. It’s just how I deal with it.

Otherwise, it gets bigger than I am.


12 Responses to My story, part 1: “That’s cancer!”

  1. bcjenster says:

    Thank you for sharing what you can. I look forward to getting to know you and the other ladies here better and when you’re ready to tell another “bit” we’ll be here to listen.

  2. whymommy says:

    That’s certainly fair. This is a big deal, and it’s quite difficult to “sum up” the cancer experience at any stage. Best to you on your scans — I’m looking at my first set at the end of the month as well. I wonder if the more experienced ladies (oh, that sounds awful) on this site would talk to us about the whole “first scan” experience. I just can’t wait for it to be over.

    So glad you’re here!

  3. justenjoyhim says:

    Thanks, bcjenster!

    Whymommy — you haven’t had CT scans before? This will be my third — first in Jan. for diagnostic purposes, then in May, now again in June. I don’t find them that bad; if you have any questions about them, I’ll try to answer them for you.

  4. bcjenster says:

    Whymommy – The scans themselves are a piece of cake. It’s the thought of what they might find. Even when you’re pretty sure they’re going to be clean. I never think I’m all that worried until after I get the “all clear”. Then all that pent up anxiety comes out and I have a mini-break down.

  5. […] here it is, My story, part 1. That’s not even the whole story, part 1, but it’s a . . . . well, it’s a […]

  6. sprucehillfarm says:

    Thanks for sharing part of your story. I know this is helping someone out there. I am looking forward to your next post. 🙂

  7. whymommy says:

    Jenster, that’s it exactly. And for my first set, I just really want to hear that it’s GONE. It’s so weird, feeling that cancer might be lurking around somewhere in there. Ooh, I feel a post coming on.

  8. imstell says:

    Judy – That’s quite eloquent, and exactly true, the “bit by bit, day by day” part. There really is no other way to get through cancer. If one tried to take in the whole thing at once – well, I just don’t think it’s even possible. God’s will on your scans. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  9. Judy,

    I often get too far ahead of myself and then I have to just STOP and breathe. One day at a time – it is hard but sometimes that is all you have energy and capacity for. As for the scans… I was supposed to have mine in October, after fighting with the insurance companies for 5 months ( in which you just want to scream – don’t you realize that I just spent the past 18 months fighting this thing and now you say these scans are not protocol) I finally had them done. I always want to see the tech’s reaction when they do the scans to see if I can “read” some clues. But I can tell you when I got the call – I held my breathe and then she said “all clean”. It is such a GOOD feeling. I want to remember that feeling because I too worry that someday her answer will be different.

  10. Bit by bit… Day by day… That’s how I get through.

    I live from CT to CT. I have them every 2-4 months. There is always something.

    I pretend that I’m coping, but I’m uptight and snap at my poor kids.

    I feel like Susan “after I get the “all clear”. Then all that pent up anxiety comes out and I have a mini-break down.”

    Now I have to get at MRI to check my liver, because we don’t see it so well on the CT without the iodine contrast (to which I am allergic)

    And I echo marybethvolpini frustrations. I just spent a MONTH arguing with my health care provider about an MRI!! I finally got permission! (I told my oncologist that we should start requesting the next one now…)

    day by day…. bit by bit….

  11. Hey, awesome website, I have personal experience with scars and it is great to see people discussing the best ways to minimise their effects on your life.

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