A Cautionary Tale during Breast Cancer Awareness month

October is traditionally breast cancer awareness month. Pink ribbon symbols pop up everywhere. They’re a pretty sight, but bittersweet for me this year. Today on Facebook, I wrote a PSA for all women to get their mammograms and not put them off. It seems a no-brainer, yes? You would think so, but…

A few weeks ago I saw a FB post by a friend who admitted she’d let her mammogram lapse several years, but finally got one this year. I got an actual lump of fear in my throat because of the chance she’d taken so casually. That, and the month being appropriate, I felt a reminder wouldn’t be amiss and posted this:

I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH BREAST CANCER on June 18th of this year after a small mass showed up on a routine mammogram and was still there on an ultrasound a few weeks later. Next, I underwent a biopsy, all the while not expecting anything serious because I had no family history of breast cancer.

The doc’s words were like a stab to my heart, but there was good news mixed with the bad. I’m stage 1A, the mass was small. My surgeon did two lumpectomies in late June and late July. My margins were clear, and I was all set to do 2-3 weeks of radiation. The medical oncologist had other ideas. He saw potential red flags and ran an Oncotype test. The results? I’m extremely likely to have a recurrence within 9 years if I don’t have chemo. So, now I prepare for port implantation and 5 months of chemotherapy (if all goes well), a 3-week rest after, followed by approximately a month of radiation. I’m not looking for pity – it is what it is.

My point is, this can happen to anyone. Are mammograms fun? Hell, no. But my surgeon admitted if I’d only done them every other year instead of every year, I could be looking at Stage 4 and long-term chemo, etc. My cancer cells were aggressive. So, heed my words ladies and get yearly mammograms! PSA over. 🙂

Of course, those small paragraphs don’t touch on my experience thus far, and I’ve not even started chemo yet. I’m not sure I’m ready to post all the nitty-gritty, the emotional ups and downs, the heart-pounding moments when my brain still doesn’t want to acknowledge that I have cancer. Sure, they cut the malignancy out, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t stray cells mutating somewhere in my body as I sit here. Hence, chemo and radiation.

I may post more about this in the future and I may not. We’ll see how I feel about it.

Meantime, I’m going to start posting about another passion of mine: cooking. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll have noticed that at times I included in a post what I was cooking for dinner. As hubby and I have begun a Keto diet for other health reasons, they’ll be Keto friendly, but may include other recipes I’ve developed over the years.

Who knows? I haven’t felt very creative for some time, but I might just publish a cookbook of my own.

About Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn

Carol Burnside is an award-winning author of "Sizzling romance with heart and humor." She almost always has a glass of sweet tea within arm's reach.
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