Thursday, July 18, 2013

peas and carrots

i think i'll write a little bit about my tumor.  

it's to the point now (size-wise) where i realized this morning just how difficult (if not impossible) it would have been for me to notice it before it jumped in size.  not impossible in the sense that i don't feel anything there.  but now i know what i'm looking for.  kind of.  see, i never had the hard, circular lump every girl is trained to look out for.  mine was definitely more of a "mass"-- and now that it's a much smaller, less defined mass, i know that at this point in its growth (when might that have been?  february? march?), i would have had to do a lot of investigative work to ever realize anything was wrong (seriously... beyond comparing one side to the other, multiple times, with lots of puzzled looks and shrugs, i would have had to go to the library and done extensive research, and even then it wouldn't have been clear, someone's description on a piece of paper in a book).  even if i had noticed that "it" was an "it", i don't think i would have called the doctor because all one ever hears about is pea-sized lumps.  

what is my point?  i don't necessarily have one.  i just felt like a not complete failure this morning upon realizing this.  but maybe i'm wondering what the solution is to 'problems' like mine.  routine, early mammograms i suppose, but then those pose their own problems (again, i'll refer you to this article) which, on a society-wide scale, probably outweigh the benefits of catching the few people like me.  i understand that and i don't even mind falling through the cracks in support of less overuse of fancy diagnostic tests for routine purposes.  maybe because i know i would have politely declined a mammogram at my age with a paucity of risk factors, had i been offered one for no (known) good reason.  even if i'd had a friend, just like me, who ended up with stage three breast cancer.  it still was out of the question that breast cancer was ever going to happen to me.  some other cancer, maybe.  but breast cancer?  no.  why not?  well... i don't know.  i don't buy skinny jeans the moment they become popular.  or smart phones either.  or read bestsellers the moment they become such.  and so in that sense, i don't get the most common invasive cancer in females worldwide.  ... but... now that i think about it... i did succumb to skinny jeans two months ago... and smart phones (well over a year ago now)... and i did read and love angela's ashes (in december 2000... 20 months after it was last on the bestseller list)... and i did, of course, as we all know, get breast cancer... though i can still count myself in the minority... i am one of the the "ones", of the one in eight u.s. women (neverminding that it was caught in denmark) who will get it ("it" being the invasive, not in situ type).  

so my thoughts?  my advice?  well, if you're a woman, and especially if you're a man, the odds are still with you that if you're thinking like i was, you're right... you will never get breast cancer.  so that's some good news right there.  it still feels like sort of a fluke that i ever got it.  but just know that it's not always going to feel like a little pea-sized lump.  it might feel like a mass of tissue, a little more solid than it feels on the other side.  green tea and flax seeds and omega-threes are not bad things to incorporate more regularly into your diet.  eat lots of vegetables with your meat, especially if you burned it on the grill.  eat more vegetables, period.  and less sugar.  why not?  and move.  just walk, for example, more frequently throughout the day.  and get your vitamin d.  and maybe try this water bottle instead of the plastic ones.  and i'll stop lecturing right now, but there's a lot we can do to make our lives healthier, even if the odds are, at least slightly with us that we won't get cancer.


nina said...

Regan, you did (and continue to do) so many things right! To me, your story inspires comfort to all those who feel they failed their own bodies in some way when they wound up with cancer. It's not your fault! We can all cut back on the stuff we know puts us at risk and we can all stay stronger and healthier, but when illness comes, it just does, showing up at various doorsteps! You can be good at life -- as you are -- and still get sick.

(Though if you smoke and eat crap and sit on your fanny all day, you WILL get sick! So your advice is sage indeed!)

Alicia Bosscher said...

I like the last paragraph! A sweet, non-pushy way to encourage people to take care of themselves...