Friday, June 16, 2017

Fight Like Me

One month ago today, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And when I get a major illness, I do it with gusto!  Not only do I have breast cancer, but I have Stage 3, triple negative, Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC).  I'll go more into the specific medical details in another blog, but triple negative breast cancers make up 15-20% of all breast cancers and IBC makes up less than 5% of all breast cancers.  Basically, I'm an overachiever.

I decided to start blogging again to help bring awareness to the diagnosis of IBC.  IBC doesn't show up as a lump.  It appears as redness on the breast.  It can have swelling, and peau d'orange (skin that looks like an orange peel), or the breast can have an inverted nipple.  The only symptom I noticed immediately was redness on my skin.  I thought I had cellulitis, a skin infection.  When I looked closer, I did have some peau d'orange, but a very small amount.  And I had mild swelling.

The thing is, IBC is SO aggressive, that it often appears between scheduled mammograms. Mine did.  And it's not always detected on mammograms, although mine was.  IBC is diagnosed at least as a Stage 3, ALWAYS.  That's because with the inflammatory nature of this cancer, the cancer cells clog up the lymph channels and lymph nodes.  The spread to lymph nodes is automatically labeled Stage 3 disease.

Breast cancer gets SO much research money, but more needs to be done towards IBC. There's got to be better detection, more discussion, increased education.  And I want to do whatever I can to help that.

But I'm also hoping this blog will be about more than IBC.  It will be about someone living with cancer.  It will be about the support and love that has come my way.  It will be about chemotherapy and surgery and radiation.  It will be about relationships, new and old.  It will be about my sweet girl and how she is handling all this.  It will be about working on an oncology unit while going through treatment myself.  At times, I'm hoping it will be funny, and sweet, and maddening.  But most of all I want it to be real.

When I started blogging years ago, I named this blog "A Journey of Sorts".  I never knew how true that title would be.  But it is definitely a journey, and I have A LOT more to say.

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