Friends…Meet a future breast cancer survivor

April 21st, 2011

I called a few select friends to let them know what was going on but my official announcement was done via e-mail to about 60 close friends.

For those of you, my friends, that don’t already know, please forgive me – its been a whirlwind of a week and I just didn’t get around to calling everyone – you know there are so many of you out there. 

So I went in for a breast exam with my GYN on Monday, because lord knows I don’t touch them myself enough to know if something is really wrong!  When I asked the question  “Do I have cancer?” my GYN said “No! It’s not cancer…its fibrocystic something or another….” I kind of zoned out after I heard NO. It should have been a clue that he walked me to the front desk, and didn’t leave my side until his office staff had scheduled my “just to make sure” mammogram. Boy I had no idea…..

I hadn’t a worry in the world when I walked in the breast health center at ARMC on Tuesday, but 4 hours later I walked out after having 9 shots, and 9 extractions from a triple biopsy, not to mention having my breasts smashed flatter than a pancake multiple times in every position possible.  There was something troubling that doctor….but thank goodness she wasn’t shy about examining me.

On thursday right before lunch (nothing like this to ruin your appetite) I got a call that confirmed that I indeed had the big C – and three times over in my right breast.

This afternoon I went to Dr. Cody Gunn, the surgeon, who was such a sport because i brought my husband and my husbands sister in with me. When i told the nurse they were going back with me, she said “Ummm, Dr. Gunn is going to do an exam – are you sure you want other people in there?” I said ever so politely, “yes maam” while inside I was thinking to myself “Uh well my husband sees me naked every day and well I’m sure I don’t have anything she hasn’t seen before”.

He proceeded to poke and prod my already bruised and battered breast, while promising he wasn’t trying to torture me – yeah right, I bet he says that to all the ladies. After all of that, he tells me to get dressed and have a seat and he would be back. Oh no, i wasn’t going to let him leave that quick. The only thing that came to my mind was the following question:

“Doc, give it to me straight. Are you going to have to hack off my boobs?”

He had a disgruntled look on his face, then looked at his nurse and said “Do you think we should go ahead and tell her?” The nurse replied, “Yes, we need to go ahead and tell her.”  Of course i’m holding my breath wondering what awful news they are about to unleash on me. So Dr. Gunn says “Boob is a weekend word. During the week we call them breasts”…..sigh of relief. I’ve found a surgeon with a sense of humor – those are hard to come by. And by the way I got his email address – not an easy task from what I understand but i’m one charming lady!

So here is the down and dirty.

I have invasive Ductal Carcinoma – sounds nastier than it really is. 90% of my cells are positive estrogen receptors – this is good I hear – and 10% of my cells are positive progesterone receptors. The results on HER2 is not back yet.  But two out of three ain’t bad.  If the HER2 comes back positive that will be a triple whammy of goodness.

Treatment is still not set in stone but I definitely get at least one new boob, um, i mean breast – this is monday after all and that does count as part of the week even though i’m still on weekend time. I might end up getting two new ones depending on how the MRI goes that i will have in the next few days. I will have to get chemotherapy so that Brazilian wax i was going to schedule is no longer required. That will save me a few bucks – i’m gonna need it for the wigs i guess.

I have a consult with Dr. Moore tomorrow about reconstruction. Apparently i’m going to walk in the hospital with one set of breasts and walk out with a whole new set all in one sitting! Now that’s technology. The surgery will probably take place within the next week so I will be slightly unavailable and punch drunk for a few days. Gimme a break if I don’t respond to your emails! Chemotherapy will start shortly thereafter, and off and on every two weeks I will be more a pain in the ass to deal with than normal, but other than that – ill be the same stephanie you all know and love.

I say all of this to assure you that I will handle this challenge with the the same vigor that i approach every challenge with. Those of you that are getting this email know I can be a bitch sometimes – that might happen more often than not for a while. But just remember, its nothing personal! And I will of course have a sense of humor about it – laughter is the best medicine right? And please don’t tell me you are sorry for me – this might just be the best thing that ever happened….new breasts, new hair, new perspective and new priorities. But it will suck for a while so just be patient with me – and do whatever I ask, when i ask, and bow to my every whim.


Stephanie Sharp, a future breast cancer survivor