In August 2010, my nearly 50-year-old aunt was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer. During my annual gynecological exam later that month, I demanded my first mammogram, even though at 38 I was below the “recommended age”. I got the mammogram on September 10, 2010. My results were negative…nothing to worry about. And my gynecologist gave me a thorough exam, so, no problem, right? A few weeks later, I noticed my left nipple turning inside out. I went to the doctor on October 15, 2010, for another mammogram, and more extensive imaging. On October 25, 2010 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer, E/P negative, but HER2 positive. BRCA negative as well; I took the test to help decide what kind of surgery to have, mastectomy, double, or just lumpectomy.
My tumor was rather large, about 5 by 6 cm, like the whole breast. The diagnosing doctor urgently suggested that I begin with chemo first to shrink the tumor to a manageable size for surgery, despite my desire to start with surgery—I wanted that tumor out right away. But going with chemo first was best, my tumor shrunk so much it was non-discernible by the time I had surgery, so I chose to just have a lumpectomy. The person who took my biopsy failed to put in a “marker” to show location of original tumor, infuriating my surgeon—who just took tissue as best she could and 4 lymph nodes that were clear. I was left with a horrible dip in my breast where my nipple was—where the tumor began. I’ve opted not to do reconstruction, see that story and the pictures on the The Right Choice For Me – No Reconstruction page.
After all that, I got Staph during surgery which delayed radiation for a few weeks, but I did get it done by the end of July 2011. I never had to skip a chemo infusion for low blood test results, or got too very, very sick—but it wasn’t a breeze or anything—just not as bad as other stories I hear. I did not handle anesthesia well, I was very sick (I barfed!), and I hated radiation. I received my last infusion of Herceptin in January 2012. I did not get the full dose due to the fact it had damaged my heart, but I eventually recovered from the heart issues later in the year. Since then have been on the see-one-of-my-oncology-doctors-every-six-months-plan. Currently I have No Evidence of Disease (NED).
For more personal stories about me, as in why I blog and the story behind my name and the blog name, see Punk Rock (Breast) Cancer and I Got the Female Trouble.
This blog contains my skewed reactions to inhabiting the cancer universe. I am not a fan of the pink ribbon culture, and—warning—my words are going to reflect that quite often. For more on my views, see Take the Mythical Image of the Strong Warrior Breast Cancer Survivor And Bury HER Once & For All.
I have a B.A., not a B.S., and like many, cancer caused me to take a crash course in medical and health science and I am by no means an expert. If any of my posts contain facts related to the disease I will always try to provide a link to where I located the information, with the explicit encouragement that the reader research the facts on his or her own, even go further (and let me know what else is out there if possible). In other words, do not rely on me and my blog as a resource for medical info! Just because I can find info, put it into a blog post, and credit the source, does not mean I completely understand the material. I can only write about my perception or understanding of it (and often, my experiences with it), and my thoughts and reactions to how I understand it.
My reactions will not always be positive and upbeat, I mean hey, I call myself the Cancer Curmudgeon. That does not mean I am not grateful—because I AM VERY grateful for staying alive during cancer, for the drugs (made possible by research dollars from the pink ribbon behemoth) and health care team that keep me that way, and all the support I got and still get. But I do not think being grateful means that I, or anyone, should stop asking for improvements in everything related to the cancer experience: prevention, research, care, cures for Stage 4, how money is raised, etc. I want more concrete cancer prevention methods than the “eat right, exercise, don’t drink or smoke” mantra that also helps prevent practically every damn human disease. The only way to make progress is if patients stand up and demand better. The women who began the breast cancer awareness movement—before it got all commercial and pink—were activists who demanded better cancer care, and they were sometimes militant or angry or cranky. Honor their bravery by continuing to demand “more and better” rather than just “accepting” what has happened!
Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you like it. If just one person reads something I wrote and thinks “yeah, I feel that way too,” then that can only be a good thing, right?
15 thoughts on “About”
Hi — I just followed the thread from my blog to yours, and have been reading posts. Thank you for this lucid introduction to your blog. Your clear-eyed, articulate view of the whole cancer landscape is refreshing. I hear you!
I agree, I just found you as well – love your writing. We’re in this together! #sistersurvivor @CancerBTTB
Yes, it is a good thing. My hat’s off to you, no pun intended. 🙂
Thank you, that is encouraging.
You know I’ve never even thought ppl with cancer wouldn’t like the pink ribbons and the walks and all of that. I really don’t know much but i do know that two special people in the same year has died because of this disease. I go to one of their funerals tomorrow. It’s scary and I am too upset at this point I don’t have it at least I don’t think I do. You just never know who is going to be the next victim. I personally believe its the food and the water ppl think I’m crazy but I’m not. At my job I just heard that at least 5 ppl have it here diff types. One person whom I’ve known for sometime has 3-5 months to live. I appreciate your honesty, I really do. Thank you!
Nice to hear from you jaygsmith08, I am glad you are looking around and reaching out, especially at this difficult time. My blog tends to be more or less just musings (or rants) of a breast cancer patient–not much on medical info. If you have time, check out chemobrainfog or the sarcastic boob’s blogs; both have links to reliable, credible websites of medical info, and each are better sources for advocating and informing the breast cancer community. Breast Cancer Action and National Breast Cancer Coalition are also good starting points.
Again, so glad you are reaching out while you are being bombarded (it sounds like) with much sad news. I hope you’ve found some comfort here. Keep in touch!
Thanks for your response I will def look at some of the other blogs that you’ve suggested. I’m not that good at navigating this site yet but working on it Lol. I would def love to keep in touch I hope today finds you in a good place.
Thank you for replying I would love to stay in touch with you I hope that today is a good day for you. If you get a reply twice it’s because I’m having a hard time learning to use this blog Lol. Thank you for the information that you provided I will try to find them and was them.
Yes, I’m a guy! What the hell do I know about breast cancer? Thankfully, not much! My Mom died of lung cancer…bad enough…and so far, my wives (3, to date) have never encountered it. I also need to make a disclaimer…I have helped raise money for the ACS!! ooooooooo! lol Look, when I care about an issue (or illness) and think I’m doing something positive to help alleviate it, I feel good! I even stayed out all night at the Stadium last month…brrrrrr…and it took me 2 days to recover! It’s not that I can’t party like I used to…it’s just that I can’t recover like I used to!” 😉
As a person born with a disability (diastrophic dwarfism) and having gone through lots of corrective surgeries, plus the aggravation of being stared at every time I went out in public, (back in the day, my girlfriend’s favorite expression was, “Take a picture, it lasts longer.” I can tell you stories about how I absolutely HATED the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dytrophy Telethon and the United Cerebral Palsey Telethon, even though they raised millions of dollars every year (btw, we still don’t have a cure for either!). In fact, I even organized several demonstrations in front of the NYC hotel where the MD telethon used to be held…until it was moved by Jerry!! lol
The epitome of my (and others’) anger, was the UCP “cripple shuffle”, the moment when Dennis James got the kids walking around stage, to the tune of, “Look at us, we’re walking; look at us, we’re talking, we who never walked or talked before; look at us, we’re happy, we’re smiling and we’re laughing, we’re happy and we’re laughing, thank you from our hearts, forevermore…” yada, yada, yada. What crap, pure and simple! Making the handicapped look helpless and so pathetic, helped foster a sense of guilt in the viewer, who then sent off a check to help relieve their conscience. Meanwhile, it also maintained the “poor little cripple” syndrome that many of us are still fighting today.
Thanks for sharing your life here for all to read! Whether I agree or disagree with you on any issue you write about, is not really my decision. I equate it to right-wingers who demand that you make their choices, not yours…it’s not within their province to choose for you!
Thanks for checking out my blog–I look forward to reading and commenting on more of yours!
Thank you for sharing YOUR story, very eye opening. And no I doubt we’d agree on all issues, although I often want my mind changed when I write some of these posts, it just has not yet happened. Agree on your last paragraph about choices–check out my post If You Don’t Approve of Preventative Mastectomy Don’t Get One, which is kind of about just that!
Will chat soon!
Can relate to your story – diagnosed in November 2013 with Stage 2B triple negative breast cancer at 28. Finishing up chemo, surgery next month, and radiation during the summer. Try to stay positive and active and all that, like you, but sometimes I wish I could yell at people, “Just cuz I’m trying to stay positive and might be making it look easy doesn’t mean it is!” 😉
Wow, great to have found you. Power to curmugdeons.
love your blog name–you may want to check out my post Hamster Wheel. Glad you found me!
I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog word. The rules for receiving this award can be found on my blog using this link: