Friday, February 10, 2012

Pink is my new favorite color.....

I always said that I would never start a blog. In fact, I am not sure how I got here. I never thought I would be here. I don't want to be here.  Nonetheless, here I am because I need a place to get my thoughts out. You see, I was recently diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. What is that? That is breast cancer. Not just breast cancer but BREAST CANCER. 

How could this have happened? I am only 36..ok 37 next month. I am rather healthy...a bit overweight, but otherwise healthy. I have 3 kids. This isn't supposed to happen to a 36 year old mom with three kids. 

So, how did this all happen? Well, in August 2011 I felt a lump in my armpit. When I had my yearly exam (you know what I mean), I asked the gyne about it. She said it is probably just a swollen lymph node due to stress. Keep an eye on it and we will recheck it later. Well, I believed her. But I didn't go back in 3 months to have it checked. It wasn't until I felt another lump and an "old" (by old I mean 35) mission trek friend announced just after Christmas that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Lump was in the same I thought I should go back. 

Although still convinced it was probably just swollen lymph nodes due to stress, my doctor sent me to do a mammogram. Being only 36 I have never had one of these before. It wasn't too bad. I can't say that I enjoyed having my size 40 H (yes that is correct, not a type O) breasts squeezed, moved around and pushed with 15 pounds of pressure as the sweet older lady doing my exam would say, "Don't Breathe. Don't move" Sure, easy for her to say. I go through that..The doctor in radiology looked at them and said, "Do you think you could do that ultrasound now." Sure.

Let me tell you, an ultra sound on your breast is not as fun as an ultra sound you have when you are pregnant. I kept waiting on a little heart beat to show up on those little masses the technician was showing me. You see. When they did the mammogram, they found that connected to the lymph nodes in the left axillary tail was a lump. A lump that I never really felt because of my nature to be so well endowed. If I wouldn't have gone in to ask about the lymph nodes, if I wouldn't have had this mammogram, I would never know that a lump existed.

At this point, the breast care center doctor was called in and she informed me that they would like to biopsy these spots and could I come tomorrow. This all happened so fast. Mammogram, ultrasound, and then biopsy all in two days.

Nick came with me to the biopsy. They biopsied two areas and drained a cyst. Since one area was a cyst, I began to feel that I the others would come back as cysts or fibroid tissues. I had to sit on this through the weekend, but still felt confident that all would be good. 

I made it through the weekend. I went and worked with my kindergarteners on Monday. I kept myself distracted all day knowing that I would need to call nurse Joan at 3:00. At 3:30, I called her from the parking lot of the school. You would think I would have went home, but at this point I was still convinced that this was nothing. I was more worried that she would tell me that it was fibroids and I would have to cut back my caffeine consumption. I was more worried of not being able to frequent Starbucks. Seems pretty petty now.

I told family, I told my prayer Sisters, I told my kids. But I haven' t told anyone else. But now five days after diagnosis and a second opinion, I am ready to let it out.  I HAVE CANCER. I actually shouted it in the shower today. No one was home, the house was quiet, but I just needed to shout it. And now, I shout it here. 

Next week, I have some blood work, a MRI, a PET (CT) Scan and meet with a team of doctors at OHSU. 

I am ok. Nick has been amazing figuring out insurance stuff and my kids took it pretty well. They really don't know what is going on. They just thought it was particularly funny that I kept saying breast. And I should add that when we told them Nick says "Remember, We are all in this together." The kids and I crack up and instantly start singing  High School Musical. "We're all in this together." Zac Efron would be proud. That' s how we are. Put a spin of humor on it and it all seems ok.

Now, I am going to keep on keepin on. I will work. I will go to my kids sports games. I will smile. This is my life.

Since this has happened, I keep seeing all these great posts and quotes. Here is my favorite one this week.


  1. This is wonderful...not the news, but the blog. It will really help relieve some of the stress. You are in our thoughts and prayers. I'm here for you, just 2 steps ahead of ya.

  2. You are one of the strongest people I know and I am proud to have you for my sister. I am here for you whenever you need me. Do not hesitate to ask me for anything. Love you!!!

  3. Madonna...thank you so much for sharing this. Your written words really do convey much of the emotion and thoughts you must be going through and I feel honored to read them. Please remember, you are STRONG, you WILL overcome this and you are surrounded by those that love you and want to be "there" for you! Please call me if you want to talk and know I am thinking only the best of thoughts for you and your family. Hugs my friend....

  4. Hi Madonna, I'm praying for you, Nick, and the kids. Keep strong, my friend!

  5. Madonna, Nick and kidlets....
    You are in my thoughts and prayers!
    You are amazing and I'm glad I can call you "friend".
    Take care of yourself.

  6. Madonna, this is a great way to get the raw emotion out since there is so much time and waiting we are fighting now with my mom out there in WA too, and I have a friend who started a blog to chronicle her journey to beating cancer and she just started a new blog for her new hobbies, she is in remission and a newlywed at 40 or so, I am adding you to my prayer this right this second, and I will follow your next blog thru your next chapter of life, after you beat this thing. GO PINK!