Sunday, October 08, 2017

2 Years Ago Today

This photo was actually exactly one month after two years ago today - November 8th, 2015.

Two years ago today, I had a mastectomy. I'd had the best trip to Oahu for my 30th high school reunion at the end of July. I think it was just a week or two later that I found a lump. It did turn out to be cancer. It turned out to not be aggressive, so there wasn't a giant rush, but it did need to go. At this hour of night on October 8th, 2015, I was in a hospital bed, uncomfortably trying to sleep on my right side (I've been a habitual left-side sleeper for all of my life, so that was hard) so as to stay off of my suture.

 I'm still absolutely amazed that one month later I was back on the water again. It wasn't a long paddle and it wasn't a fast paddle but oh, it was wonderful. If you ever asked me to list my top 10 most memorable paddles, just off the top of my head, I think this would be one of the first ones I thought of.

Once again, I'm so grateful that for catching it when I did*, for my good insurance, for the great medical team at NYU Langone who were so good that I was barely even scared (the scariest time was actually between finding the lump and diagnosis, once they brought me in to tell me the results, they were so quick to go from "Yes, you have cancer" to why everything was probably going to be fine that the fear level just intantly dropped) - and for the friends and family who helped me get through it (especially Sebago clubmate Barbara who helped me through the whole process, and of course TQ, who took a week off to care for me after my surgery and never flinched at anything, but there were lots of others who helped me through it and I'm grateful to all of you).

I've been known to say that my run-in with breast cancer was more of a hassle than an ordeal, and I'm so glad that was true. I'm not all the way back in shape yet but yesterday I joined friends at the club for a 15 mile paddle with a good number of rolls partway through, and everything felt pretty darned good.

Now next Sunday, Barbara and I will be joining Allyson Howard, a friend and fellow survivor who I met through my Spring dips with the Coney Island Polar Bears, at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, the Coney Island edition. I am the worst fundraiser in the world (I was too shy to even sell Girl Scout cookies when I was a Girl Scout, it's really too bad I didn't understand that grownups LOVE buying Girl Scout cookies - I now hover around people I know who are parents of Girl Scouts in eager anticipation of the next chance to score me some Thin Mints and those wonderful new lemony ones - I really didn't get that when I was the one doing the selling, though) and I jumped into this late, but I'm going to give it a try here. Want to help Team Booby Prize raise some money? Click here! And THANK YOU!

* Note for women friends: Even if you are good about getting your annual mammograms, don't forget the self-exams -- my April 2015 mammogram didn't catch my tumour (there was something on there that in hindsight may have been the early signs, but the science isn't perfect), and I wasn't good about doing my self-exams once a month, which is the recommended frequency, and probably would have found my lump sooner if I had been. As things worked out, I didn't pay for the delay (in fact quite the contrary, I found it the week after I'd gotten back from a trip back to Oahu for my 30th 'Iolani reunion, which was absolutely wonderful and wouldn't have been nearly as nice if I'd been worrying about this), because of the nature of my particular tumour, the treatment probably would've been the same if I'd caught it one or two months sooner, but I was very, very lucky.


Alana said...

You have at least one reader (me) who is guilty of skipping self exam, especially having large, lumpy breasts. Yes, there is no excuse. I wanted to tell you about a trip to Ithaca, New York several years ago to see dragonboat races. One of the teams consisted of women who had had breast cancer (in fact, that was the sole requirement of membership) and they used the exercise of dragon boat rowing to fight certain side effects of mastectomy and to bond in friendship. The recovery can be slower than many of us think, I've found (through friends). Ie day, perhaps, I'll get to see them (alas, I forgot the name of the team) in action once again.

Haralee Sleepwear said...

Your paddling is inspirational Bonnie. Being a breast cancer survivor and in the water so soon after your surgery is truly wonderful. Shining your light for early detection, go you!

bonnie said...

I have a friend here in NYC who does the dragonboat racing with a team of survivors. It's centered in Queens here, so it's a little hard to get to, but she loves it and it really does sound like a fantastic way to help your recovery along in company with people who have been there. Someday I have got to go to the big dragon boat festival they have in Queens, it's held around the summer solstice every year and I would have SO much fun (and the post-event blogging would be a blast)!

More about that!

Thanks, Haralee! Actually Alana reminds me that self-exams aren't that easy for everyone - I did not have any excuse for not doing mine, I just didn't. I was just really lucky my cancer was a slow-moving one.

Roxanne Jones said...

Delighted that you're marking this milestone in such a positive way. Thanks for sharing your story--and reminding us of what needs to be done!

PeconicPuffin said...

So glad that you're in good health Bonnie! And the answer to the question you asked on my blog is Yes (there's a post for it and everything!)

So glad you're well.