Thursday, July 21, 2011

Never say never... (Also known as "Coming Clean")

Cancer will affect 1 out of 3 of you. Period, end and finish. There is no way to avoid it. There is no way to ignore it. And there is no way to say it won't be you. It can be.

Since becoming a LIVESTRONG Leader, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked, by fellow LIVESTRONG Leaders and others, "How did cancer touch you?" expecting to hear that I'd survived myself, and they seem somewhat disappointed when I explain that I never had cancer, but I supported the cause because of others that have died. (In fact, I wrote a whole blog about it, "Wait... You don't have cancer?") I've explained that I ride for people in my life, like my Gramma, my friends and others.

Between you and me, I was extremely proud of myself that I was participating in LIVESTRONG merely as a good Samaritan, standing on the sidelines of cancer.

As a child and a teenager, all I wanted to do was belong. For example, I was furious when I learned that I had 20/20 vision and couldn't have glasses when all my friends had glasses. Of course, the adults around me, as well as my eye doctor, couldn't understand why I wished that I'd had a defect so I could wear glasses. The same thing with my teeth - I never needed anything to re-align my teeth. Not a retainer, nor braces. And I was mad that I couldn't have metal pieces fused onto my teeth, with wires and rubber bands and funny speech patterns. Again, my dentist, parents and others were baffled. I should have been thankful.

With my involvement with LIVESTRONG, I was quite content with being the outsider whose only connection to cancer was through others.

Well, the universe has a very sick sense of humor.

I remember being told by an old friend a couple of years ago that there always seems to be a rain cloud hovering above me. When he implied that it was a flaw, I explained he should see it as a blessing, because I am the lightening rod for bad things. Therefore, the best thing for my loved ones is to stay close to me, because I'll draw all the evils and bad things from them and onto myself.

So, for my loved ones, it's time to thank me. Because you aren't going to be the one in three that are touched directly by cancer. I've got you covered.

On July 19th, after getting what should have been a baseline mammogram the day after my birthday care of a Mobile Digital Diagnostic Unit from the Bennett Cancer Center of Stamford Health Systems at a health fair at my day job's office building, it was confirmed that I have breast cancer. Don't ask me what stage I'm at - I can't tell you yet. Here's what I know so far:

  • Being the overachiever that I am, I don't just have one type of cancer, I have two. I have In Situ Grade 2 Ductal Carcinoma and Invasive/Infiltrating Grade 3 Ductal Carcinoma in the right breast.
  • I have a (newly learned about) family history of breast cancer on one side of my family.
  • It is possible that all the frustrating metabolic problems my endocrinologist and I have blamed on my Hashimoto's Disease could be attributed to this brewing cancer.
  • It appears that this has been caught absurdly early - what is terrifying it to think about what might have happened had I not gotten that baseline mammogram - could you imagine where I'd be in 3 years after lack of diagnosis?
  • I don't know what course of action I'm taking yet, and that won't be figured out for a couple of weeks.
  • I am getting local consultations, and then second opinions at two major facilities on the East Coast, assuming I get an appointment.
Obviously, there is a lot being digested on my part, my family's part, etc. Since I find some strange solace in blogging, I'll likely be posting to the blog about my progress.

But here's what else I can tell you:
  • LIVESTRONG has proven to be an invaluable resource - even during these very early stages of diagnosis. The support, references, programs to date, and it's still so early on, is remarkable.
  • I have told my doctors that I don't give a damn where I'm at with my treatment, I'm still running ROCK the RIDGE in September and I am going to ride the LIVESTRONG Challenge in Austin. Because I have to do what I prayed I'd never have to do - I am riding for myself. My son is riding for his Mom. And my daughter is running for her Mommy.
I don't know how, yet, but I'm going to kick this cancer in the ass.


Oh. And don't send me pink ribbons and all that pink blah-bi-dy-blah-blah. For me, pink ribbons are reserved for Mary Kay Stage Calls and awards. I want to earn those.

Send me yellow. Lots of yellow.



  1. Wow. Powerful. You know that you have a whole family of support around and behind you. As a fellow LiveSTRONG Leader, you know what advice I'd give you, so I'll spare you that. We're all rooting for you - and dammit, I'll see you in Austin, too. - Patrick

  2. Dammit, I'll see you in Austin. ;)

  3. you go, girl. and omg, there were so many less dramatic ways you could have made me stop procrastinating the damned mammogram! i've not done livestrong, but was involved with susan g komen this past year (don't worry, won't 'send' you pink) and there were a ton of us there for others. so many of the cards people wore with 'i'm walking for'''' statements made me want to cry. cancer sucks. or as you so eloquently put it, fucancer. Time for a cure already.

  4. GET THE MAMMO! And keep an eye out for those "freebie" mammos if your insurance doesn't allow it. And to hell with the "recommendations" to wait. Can you imagine if I'd waited until I was FORTY! I'd be writing a Requiem instead of a blog!

  5. Hi Rica,

    I think to you and to your family. I wish you lots of courage and strength.

    Kind regards,


  6. You were scanned two days ago and already have a diagnosis? Wow.

  7. The biopsy was done on 7/14, but the results came in 2 days ago. The original mammo was done in June.

  8. and the biopsy showed evidence of Stage 2 and Stage 3 cancer?

  9. It showed GRADE 2 & GRADE 3... that gradation shows what percentage of cells are abnormal vs those that are healthy. It goes on a scale of 1-4. Staging can't happen until after surgery. (Who is this?) Let me know if that helps clarify things.

  10. Was confused on Grade vs. Stage. Thank you.

    Also very familiar with requirement for surgery and other testing to get proper Staging.

    Best of luck.


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