Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 180: Huh.

Let me start with the headline: I don't have breast cancer.

(Well, as far as anyone knows.)

Nonetheless, I'm also not as squeaky-clean low-low-risk as I thought I was.

Many a time Mrs. Cynicletary and I have laughed off the idea of breast cancer. Not us! we cried, so joyfully. No family history, we breast-fed all our babies and get regular mammos, we are happy healthy girls with happy healthy hooters!

Turns out, positive thinking may not be enough. Or it may be. I'm in something of a wait-and-see place.

I saw Dr. Dixie yesterday for my post-surgery all clear and the results of my pathology report. She removed both nodules, and the tiny one is not worrisome at all. But the bigger one, the marble-sized one, the one that caused all this ruckus in the first place, came back with a diagnosis of lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), "an uncommon condition in which abnormal cells form in the lobules or milk glands in the breast." According to my good friends at the Mayo Clinic:
LCIS isn't cancer. But being diagnosed with LCIS indicates that you have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. 
Since I took grad school statistics, I have a healthy skepticism about such phrases as "increased risk" — give me hard numbers, people!

But in this case, the increase is somewhat significant. A healthy woman with no other risk factors has a 12 percent chance of getting breast cancer. Add LCIS to the picture, and the number increases to 20 percent.

It's still lowish . . . but I don't like it.

(Though as my awesome hairdresser said yesterday, "Frankly I don't like the 12 percent either!")

Yesterday, after getting this news, I felt a little anxious and off all day. I also had a big editing job that I had to focus on, the kids needed chauffeuring hither and yon, and Husband was stuck in holiday traffic and unavailable. A busy day, in other words, offering little time for contemplating my mortality. So when I finally finished my editing job at 7 p.m., rather than sneak in late to zumba (which I know I should have done and which would've helped my mental state on so many levels), I poured a glass of wine and took a hot bath.

And today I'm more chill. People with zero risk factors can still get cancer. People with every risk factor can live to be 100. So much of it is a crapshoot.

I'm meeting with a "risk specialist" after the holidays to discuss my options (one of which is to go on Tamoxifen now. That's freaky, right? But I won't worry about that today), so I am going to put it out of my mind until I meet with him.
He's also the one who did my pathology report and, according to Dr. Dixie, he always finds something.

(Which reminds me of one of my favorite lines written by my friend Perri Klass: "You go to Midas, you get a muffler.")

So there we are. It's all a little unsettling, I'll admit, but for the most part my outlook is positive and upbeat.

As for those other risk factors: OK, I'll step up my efforts to reach a healthy weight, I'll down kale like it's the new Godiva, and I'll make peace with my treadmill now that the frosty air keeps me off the Bike Path . . .

. . . but I will not give up my Chardonnay!!!!

Tamoxifen with a Chardonnay chaser. Awesome.

Off to start concocting Thanksgiving appetizers — I think I'll make the Chicken Enchilada Dip first, yum. And probably by 11, I'll be ready to sample my chosen cocktails. Food report to come!

Happy Thanksgiving, my darling friends. I am so thankful for YOU.

love and kisses,
Lady C

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