Little Blessings

“Sorry I have so little mammo to gram,” I joked with my last mammogram technician. “No worries,” she said, maneuvering my tiny breast onto the bottom plate of the mammogram machine. “We actually see them smaller than this.” I marveled at the possibility as I inched closer to the machine—for the third time—while an image of a female Stuart Little getting a mammogram distracted me from the pain of my own wee little breast being flattened.

With the fact firmly established that my boobs, when I had them, were minuscule, the obvious question then is, “How do you miss 10 invasive lobular carcinoma tumors in a breast that barely fills out a nearly-A cup bra?”

Well, I did. So did my gynecologist and the highly skilled techs who had been reading my mammograms for the six years I’d gotten them.

Two years ago, when I was 46, I was up at Lake Tahoe for a late-season ski trip with my new boyfriend of two months. While taking a shower in our cozy, mouse-infested cottage, I noticed a hard lump in my right breast. It was the size of a Le Sueur early pea. Long story short, the pea was a calcification, but it introduced me to the 10 cancerous tumors that had been growing in the upper left quadrant of my right breast. “Wow. That is one mystical pea,” said my best friend Sharon.

Truly.

That pea alerted me to my cancer before it could spread to my lymph nodes. What followed were an ultrasound, a core biopsy, a double mastectomy, chemo, radiation, reconstruction and everything in between.

And that’s my story in a nutshell.

I wanted to keep this first post short and laser focus on the importance of checking out that small, little voice in your head that says, “something’s wrong.” I did, and I believe it saved my life. Some would say I found my cancer “late,” (heck, I had 10 tumors growing in me), but thanks to the mystical pea and the little voice in my head, I found my cancer at Stage I (no lymph node involvement and the biggest of the 10 tumors being under 2cm in size).

I also listened to that little voice last week when I had some alarming post-menopausal bleeding. (I haven’t had a period since my first A/C chemo-tini in August 2006.) I called my oncologist who ordered me a pelvic ultrasound for next Tuesday. I’ll let you know what they find. They don’t think it’s uterine cancer; they think I have too much estrogen in my body and that the level means I’m actually perimenopausal instead of postmenopausal. Will let you know. Meanwhile, say a little prayer. I’d appreciate it big.

Jenni Ballantyne of The Comfy Place introduced me to Susan of Toddler Planet, so here I am. In the company of all these cool women writers, I feel like I’m sitting at the cancer equivalent of the cool kids’ table. I’m honored to share this space with you.

Peace to you,

Jill

By way of introduction, I’m a 48-year-old working, single mom, whose marketing job and two teen/preteen kids are seriously interfering with her blogging. Time is tight, but I’ll post when I can and respond as soon as I am able. You can also read more of my incredibly compelling story in the 2007 archives at my blog, Reconstruct This…


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8 Responses to Little Blessings

  1. bcjenster says:

    JILL!!! I just came from your blog and realized for some reason Google Reader hasn’t been telling me when you have a new post. I’ll have to look into that.

    Anyway, I’m so glad you’re here. I’m also glad to know your story. I don’t know if you remember or not, but last summer I had estrogen levels through the roof (much longer story than this) and it lead to a total hysterectomy. Damn bionic ovaries!

    I’m headed back to your blog in a bit to catch up.

    Again, I’m so glad you’re here!

  2. Welcome!!

    Some day I’ll figure out how to post too. (now I just comment…)

  3. jillaldrich says:

    JEN! I jst left a comment on your post. You know, I, too, see that Google Reader is listing my last past as December. Hm. Maybe Google decided my writing had slipped and didn’t care to share my newer posts…

    I first read your Frisk the 14th post. I think that was in September 2007, so I didn’t read about your hysterectomy last summer. Dang those bionic ovaries. I think I’m headed your way. My oncologist was stunned at my estrogen levels. I guess that makes us super women, LOL!

    I am just plain delighted to share this space with you.

    Ditto to Rivka with a capital A. Thank you!

  4. Hey Jill!!!! Welcome, I am so glad to see you here. I love your introduction post and I feel all proud and squirmy that you’re here! Seriously I am thrilled you’re here you have such a great attitude and sense of humor, it lifts me out of many a slump and brings a smile to my lips. Looking forward to hearing more from you over here. Speaking of that I better get posting myself, I think I’ve only done two posts (slacker). Take care girl – hugs xxx

  5. Sarah S. says:

    Welcome! Thanks for posting your story. I am off to read your blog. 🙂

  6. jillaldrich says:

    Hey Jenni B. I’m going to agree with the popular sentiment here that cancer is not a gift, but getting to know smart, cool women like you is priceless.

    Sarah S: Thank you. I’m off to read *your* blog and your posts here. Looking forward to getting to know you better.

  7. throwslikeagirl74 says:

    If cancer is a gift, I need to have a serious talk with the giver. Jill – so glad you’re here – I read some of your posts on your blog and love your writing!

  8. jillaldrich says:

    Hey Throws like a girl,

    Thank you. When I have time, I check out everyone’s blogs. Love yours.

    Jill

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