Kicking Some Cancer Ass

There is no way to gently break the news so I will just go ahead and say it.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer this week.  When I first received my diagnosis, I said these words out loud to myself over and over again making special effort to emphasize each word as if reiteration would dull the shock of it.  “I have breast cancer.”  “I HAVE breast Cancer.”  “I have BREAST cancer.”  “I have breast CANCER.”  I thought if I could actually taste these wretched words as they roll off my tongue, smell the stench as they permeate the air, and feel the sharp pain as they sting my body, my heart and my soul, I would believe it.

It all began about two weeks ago, when I found a lump on my right breast.  I knew when I first felt a hard knot the size of a marble located at 6 o’clock that it was not supposed to be there.  I always wondered if I would be able to discern a normal lump from a “not normal” lump.  Apparently I can.  I say this for all of you women out there that have worried about this as well.  I called my doctor first thing the next morning and they got me in that afternoon.  The nurse practitioner agreed that it was “suspicious”. 

A few days later, right before Thanksgiving on my husband’s birthday, I found myself having my breast smashed between two cold panes of glass as low dose amplitude x-rays were taking pictures.  Not fun.  Then, I was lying on a table with high frequency sound waves traveling into my breast transmitting an image of the area onto a monitor.  Once the technician found the “mass”, as they called it, two small incisions were made and a long needle-like tool stuck into me as the oncologist probed for a sample of tissue both from my breast and a lymph node.  I was there for four hours.  The oncologist said, “Deanne, I will call you after the Thanksgiving holidays with the results,” but I knew.

Thanksgiving in Arizona with my family taking a tour of the National Reserves while waiting for diagnosis.

My cell phone rang Monday evening after the holidays.  Maggie and I were in the car on our way to her tutoring session at the library.  The oncologist asked me if I was alone.  “No, I am with my daughter,” I responded.  She asked, “Would you like me to call you back?” God no, I thought.  I have waited six days. Six days!  I do not want to wait one more f$%@# minute.  “No, I will pull over,” I uttered.  It’s hard to articulate the exact feeling that came over me as I heard her say, “You have breast cancer.”  An extraordinary calmness of sorts transpired.  I believe having my daughter with me kept me strangely strong but I knew at that moment my life was about to change.  I asked a few questions then hung up and drove Maggie to the library. 

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma and ductal carcinoma in situ, high nuclear grade.  That was a mouthful.  I do not know what stage yet.  That will depend on the MRI and whether or not it has spread to my lymph nodes. 1 in 8 women in Orange County are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.  No two cancers are alike and each woman is treated based on their own characteristics.  Apparently, I am in the minority.  Fourty-four and pre-menopausal is considered young.  Most women are diagnosed post-menopausal. 

Initially, I had this bizarre internal shaking throughout my body, like I was bitterly cold and could not get warm as I set in motion the daunting task of telling my husband, my kids, my family and my friends.  I actually found myself apologizing a few times, “I’m sorry Mom.”  I’m sorry Kevin”.  I truly hated delivering such forbidding news.  I did not want to upset the people I love but I knew I could not do this alone.  It is difficult for me to personally admit that I am in a vulnerable position and to ask for help, a bit of the super mom syndrome I suppose. The thing is, I did not need to ask.  My friends and family stepped up to the plate and have been absolutely generous, supportive and all around amazing.  So to all of you, I could not do this without you. Thank you!

 A few of my fabulous friends and our new band picture and new name, Daisy Chain

On Tuesday, the day after the diagnosis and our 19th wedding anniversary, this strange energy swept through my body, an adrenaline rush of sort.  I still went to band practice and park day and soccer.  I had dinner to make for the kids and laundry to do and Kevin and I went for sushi to celebrate.  Life does not stop for such things. 

I was also on a mission to learn everything I could possibly learn.  Knowledge is power and I intended to empower myself.   

Two days later, I crashed and burned.  Sobbing tears finally broke the surface and I cried.  Up to that point, I was bone dry.  I woke up before the sun and birds that morning after a restless sleep and a sick and frightening panic overwhelmed me.  All those words I repeated over and over again earlier, I have breast cancer, I HAVE breast cancer, I have breast CANCER hit me like a locomotive.  The reality finally sunk in.  I may lose my breast, my ovaries or possibly my life.  This is for real.   

These last few days after my meltdown, I have taken charge.  I have been busy talking to insurance companies, making doctor’s appointments, researching on-line, reading books and registering for a macrobiotic retreat in Northern California with a renowned macrobiotic counselor, David Briscoe and his wife Cynthia.  Keeping in style with my non-conventional ways, I am embracing the Eastern methodology of healing.

Today, as I am preparing my macrobiotic meal, steamed brown rice, lightly sautéed kale and azuki beans, I am thinking how lucky I am to be loved by so many and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Because I cannot call each and everyone one of you every day with an update on my latest adventure, I plan to use my blog as a way to keep you all posted on the most recent news.  It will also be cathartic for me, a type of therapy to keep me sane and restore some balance to my life in a very lopsided time for me and my family.

I find it funny, when I first started writing this blog, my goal was to share my adventures and inspire people to think outside of the box, dare to try new things, and stir up a little desire to “grab the world by the lapels…and kick ass”, Maya Angelou’s motivating words.  I believed kicking ass would include such things as surfing, singing in a rock ‘n roll band, and unschooling my kids.  Never in my wildest imagination, and I have a wild imagination, did I think that I was about to embark on my biggest adventure yet, battling cancer. 

As many of you know, these last few years have been especially trying for me.  I used to say, “at least I have my health”.  If this were a text I would put an lol next to it.  I can’t say that anymore.  But I can say that I am a strong, optimistic and positive woman with a love for life.  I plan to be here for a long time.  I have children that need me, a husband that adores me, friends and family that love me, a book to write, a band to get signed and a world to travel so I plan to kick some serious cancer ass.

I’m off now to buy that cute T-shirt at Tilly’s that says, I Love Boobies.  To be continued…

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18 Responses to “Kicking Some Cancer Ass”

  1. Terry Says:

    Oh Wow…….this made me cry…Deanne, I’m so sorry! You are one strong woman!I can’t say I know how you feel because I don’t…….but from a sister who lost a sister 8 years ago to Breast Cancer..You my friend have a great attitude and that means alot! I don’t know what else to say but please don’t ever lose faith and believe in the power of prayers! We will keep you in our prayers…Can’t wait to see you guy’s on the 18.You guys will kick ass!! xoxoxoxo Please let me know if there is anything we can do after all we are friends! xoxoxo

  2. alexzander Says:

    Deanne, I frickin love you. That cancer doesn’t stand a chance. I’m with you.

  3. Mom Says:

    My darling daughter, you absolutely amaze me. I love you so much and will be by your side either in person or in sprit until “we kick some serious cancer ass”

  4. Stacy Says:

    Deanne,
    This is still very surreal for me, although I get that for you it must be very real…We are all over here thinking about you and sending you our most positive energies and thoughts…

    Things will be crazy for you coming up and I don’t want you to feel like you have to call all of us or calm all of us so do what you need to do – blog, text us, call us, answer the phone/text/email/blog comment… if you want to or don’t…if you are not up to it. Please remember that it is time to take care of you!

    Your spirit is incredibly strong and there will be no stopping you…not ever!
    Hugs!
    S

  5. Kim (Friend of Stacy Vivas) Says:

    Hello Deanne,

    We have never met, but I want you to know that I am (along with countless others) praying for you and your family. I never had cancer in my breast, but in my eye! As scary as that was, I kicked cancer’s ass and you WILL too!!! Your blog was beautiful. After reading it and shedding a few tears, I just wanted to drop you a line to say that I will be thinking of you and wish you great health and happiness. May God bless you – always!

  6. John Alvarado Says:

    But you do still have your health, Deanne! And your macrobiotic diet is going to improve your health further so that you, with your health, positive attitude, medicine and prayers of all your loved ones can evict the cancer that has temporarily taken up residence in your body. The mind body connection is an amazing thing. Believe in your strength and you will be strong, believe in your health and it will help you beat the cancer. Love you! -John

  7. Raundi Says:

    Ok Girl, I have never felt so informed about cancer or more in love with you.. I learned so much. You are an amazing woman. I hope everyone re-posts this.

  8. Brian Says:

    Emily and I send our love and thoughts. You are a champion & inspiration.

  9. Mary Says:

    I just got up to face my day which I thought might be difficult (for other more minor reasons). I guess not difficult at all. And then I read your news. Even though I do not see you often or perhaps know you well at this point in life, I have enjoyed getting re-acquainted to your very beautiful and full life through your blogs. I just want you to know that I am in tears also but I have faith that you are very strong (from your posts) and want you to know that you and your family will be in my prayers.

  10. Dana E Says:

    Deanne,
    I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis, and to be lead to your wonderful blog under these circumstances. Two of my friends forwarded this entry to me – one who knows I have cancer and one who doesn’t. I can’t tell you how many times over the past year I too had thought, “Well, it isn’t cancer , the circumstances might suck, but it isn’t cancer, I can deal with it.” Until the day somone says “You have breast cancer”. It kinda puts a wall up – an “Oh, crap- the whole world stops” kinda wall. Working through that wall, tearing it down with the love and support of friends and family is a journey. Full speed ahead I say!

    My friends said you were amazing and an inspiration, and reading the blogs you wrote, I have to agree. You are amazing and you will “Kick some cancer ass!”

  11. roxane stafford Says:

    I can only sigh, your sharing is so powerful, direct, I actually feel dizzy. My heart to yours, Blessings For Strength, Communion and Rock n’ Roll Attitude!

  12. Kelli Brooks Says:

    Deanne,

    I learned of your recent diagnosis from a friend/co-worker at KPMG. I just wanted you to know that I’ve walked in your shoes! I was diagnosed with Stage 2A breast cancer in February of 2007 – when I was premenopausal and only 40 years old! I found a marble-sized lump in my right breast at the 6 o’clock location – just like you. I had a lumpectomy and they found it had spread to one of my lymphnodes. To be safe, all lymphnodes were removed and I started chemo about a month after my surgery. After chemo was over, I did radiation. It’s a long journey – but your strength, your sense of humor and your tremendous support network will make it a successful journey! I’m sending you all the positive vibes in the world! Stay strong!!! If you need ANYTHING, or if I can be helpful to you in any way, just let me know!! XOXO

  13. Colleen Says:

    Deanne,
    You are so inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. With your amazing energy and support from those who love you, you will indeed kick some cancer ass. You are in my prayers, sweetie!!! Hang in there!!

  14. clare Says:

    Deanne,
    What makes you sexy is more than your beautiful face and gorgeous body. You have an electricity that exudes feminine strength and loveliness from your smile to your swagger, through your voice and the brilliance of your fabulous eyes, and no amount of surgery, chemo or radiation can destroy that.

  15. Deanne Says:

    Thank you all for sharing your stories. My heart goes out to you Dana. Stay strong and you will kick some cancer ass too.

    Thank you Kelli, it is so reassuring to hear from someone that has walked in my shoes and healed, gives me hope and inspires me to stay strong and fight.

    And good for you Kim for kicking some ass.

    Clare, I think you made me blush. Wow!

    And all of you that have sent such sweet, supportive, inspiring words, I am so grateful. I truly do not know what to say sometimes to all of the love I am recieving. I feel a bit humbled actually.

    It really is true that you get what you give. It’s strange, but I actually feel pretty darn good and extremely lucky while in the midst of all of this. The Beatles had it right, “All you need is love”.

  16. Gretchen Says:

    I can see you now – researching online all the best options for you that are out there. Soaking in all the information. Your retreat sounds like a good start. We’ll be sending positive vibes your way.

  17. Tracey Says:

    I don’t know you well, but I watched you face off those women on The Talk, you can beat anything.
    I’m rooting for you and know you will win. Stay informed that is always the way I have seen. You are lucky to have such a great family.
    BIg Hug from across the country.

  18. Patricia Says:

    Oh My Gosh, Deanna! You, my Dear, are INCREDIBLY AMAZING! I am not surprised by your beautiful attitude during this journey. I just wanted to add my coment to remind you that you’re not alone in this Great Ass Kicking!! I LOVE YOU! P~

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