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A Letter from Dena
Update posted by Dena Anderson On Feb 17

Hi all! Well, here's my story so far:

On November 1st, last year, I went to the doctor's for a surface lump on my left breast. It turned out to be nothing, but the Dr. asked if I have a family history of breast cancer. My maternal grandmother died of breast and lung cancer at the age of 39. Doc says that I should get a mammogram "just in case". I say "OK", thinking it'll be clear and I'll go on with life... Well, that didn't quite happen.

The radiologist found microcalcifications in my right breast. A biopsy was done and confirmed what my gut felt- DCIS. Stage Zero breast cancer. My left breast was clear. I met with a surgeon, Dr. Caughran, about a lumpectomy. She ordered an MRI, to make sure the "margins" were proper for the surgery. It showed a 7mm tumor. I was now facing a mastectomy. I chose to have a double mastectomy. I did not and do not ever want to go through this again if I can help it! (I believe every woman can and should make their own choice on this matter.)

I was approved for genetic testing due to my grandma's early cancer and my own young age. I do not carry the BRCA1/BRCA2 gene/s. One small bit of good news! My husband does his best, which was amazing, to comfort me both when I am numb and when I am a bawling, inconsolable heap of tears and snot.

I chose to have reconstruction, too. So now I had 2 surgeons. Two doctors for my boobs? Okay. My surgery was January 2nd, with spacers placed at the same time. A few days later I woke up to my phone ringing. It was Dr. Caughran. The tumor was Stage 1B invasive, and she dropped the bomb on me, the "C" word. Chemotherapy. Now 3 boob doctors?!

So now I have a port in my upper chest that itches like hell and am through 1 of 4 rounds of chemo. I will get to keep this lovely titanium ornament for a whole year because of other shots I'll need to assure I have thoroughly kicked cancer's ass out of my body. My second round is February 27th. I'm paranoid as all hell that my hair is going to fall out in chunks. I proactively chopped off my lovely locks, losing about 18 inches of wavy "me-ness" and the feeling of beauty that I didn't realize I was so dependent on. I have a cute pixy cut, just in case...

Doc says I can keep the port when she "deports" me (as my hubby jokingly calls it). I haven't decided yet whether to enshrine or destroy it. I've made enough decisions to last the rest of the year, and I'm tired. I fear I will look back in a few months and laugh at what I thought words like sick and tired meant. I'm the brave warrior, pre-survivor, and now have a 4th doctor, a psychiatrist. Well, a 5th, counting my family doctor 


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