The Easy Cancer

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day and came across an update from a friend who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her update is irrelevant for the sake of this blog post but it was something related to her impending treatment. What really got me was one of the replies. It read:

“Hope yours is the easy one.”

When I read this, I whipped out my iPhone and furiously typed out “MUST DEBUNK MYTH THAT THERE IS AN EASY CANCER!”

You see, I had what is probably considered the “easy” kind of breast cancer. But, nothing about treatment or survivorship has been easy. I think a comment like this minimizes everything from the diagnosis, the fears, the feelings, and the strength we draw upon. Cancer is cancer is cancer.

I so totally get that people don’t exactly know what to say when they learn a friend has cancer. So this person’s reply is actually a very typical response. My problem is that it’s rooted in misconception.

There are tons of variables when it comes to a breast cancer diagnosis. Hormone positive breast cancers are thought to be the easiest to treat. Patients with hormone positive cancers have more treatment options and long term hormone-blocking therapies. The prognosis is better for women with hormone positive cancers and thus survival rates are better. Easier to treat does not equal easy.wendy-nielsen-breast-cancer-101-final-01

Comments

  1. Exactly!People would say how lucky I was that I had the “best” cancer. BEST? When they say “You have cancer,” everything that comes after is about surviving. I was accused of being cavalier about my diagnosis but nothing could be further from the truth. I was just well-informed, and had excellent medical advice, something that gave me confidence in the decisions I made (choosing to have a lumpectomy rather than mastectomy also seemed to give people the impression it wasn’t as serious). It’s my nature to be matter of fact and take bumps or landmine in this case, in stride, nevertheless, nothing about it was easy. I found myself beginning to resent the attitude that I was breezing through treatment. Which was almost as annoying as those who made comments about me being so brave and heroic, um, no. I’m a patient not a soldier. I was fortunate that I had good insurance, live where there is high quality medical care and have a large loving support system of neighbors, friends and family. Those things made life easier, not having cancer easier.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      There are so many truths in what you just shared, Lynne! Also, I’ll be featuring another month of stories about life after cancer during October. Did it last year and would love for you to consider being part of the 2014 edition! Email me at wendy@wendy-nielsen.com if you are interested!

    • Di Shepherd says:

      When I was diagnosed in November of 2012 with Breast Cancer, I too was told by the very medical staff who would treat me that “if there was a good cancer to have…I was the lucky one…it was caught early (@Stage 1), so I would be fine…” I kept the diagnosis my secret from my husband and family, friends until I knew my course of treatment and had gathered all the facts as my ammunition for survival. That was never a question! I face life head on and when the going gets tough – I just get tougher! I have a great attitude, faith in God and strong, positive spirit. After two lumpectomy surgeries and the many experiences that go along with and before that; then 36 rounds of radiation…I even now at times feel guilty; distracted from what I had faced …because I “shouldn’t feel”…with such an “easy, good cancer…” -Di

    • teresa donahue says:

      You have written my story…it isn’t easy, it just needs to be lived… But life will never be the same…medications for years, feeling like I am on borrowed time, joining the ranks of the uninsurable, and even with “just” a lumpectomy the body is different

    • Janet Westcott says:

      Thank you for your wise words. I was diagnosed a day ago and am waiting for the results of the biopsies. I am strong, I have an immovable faith in God but I am human and the tears trickle down my face. So many things to process, I don’t know where to start. Please think of me.
      Thanks for sharing

      • Hi Janet – I hope you get a good result back. I had my biopsy 11 days ago and got the call this morning. Invasive Ductal Carcinoma – ER/PR Positive – so the “easy kind”, right? I too have faith in God, an amazing support system, but wow, when you hear those words….I don’t know how to explain the feeling other than I feel like I’m in some kind of fog. Had a mini melt down this morning, but back on the positive side again. What’s to come? The unknown for sure. Please keep me posted – you can email me if you’d like – we can talk this next challenge of life together.

        JustJo61@yahoo.com

        Take care of YOU!
        Beckie

        • Hi Becki, I was diagnosed just over a year ago with the same thing. IDC ER/PR positive but also BRCA2. So I am on the other end of where you are now. Stay strong and positive. That helped me a lot. Along with family and friends. I had a bilateral masectomy last January. Had 16 rounds of chemo and a total hysterectomy in October. If you wish to reach out to me, I am here.
          dfrimet@gmail.com

        • Melinda Martin says:

          I was diagnosed recently with IDC ER/PR. Terrified yes!!!! I’m processing this information better now than I did a couple of weeks ago. I can be walking through the house one minute fine, the next bust out in tears. Waiting on the BRCA tests to come back before a treatment plan is put in place. I know God’s got this because I can’t do it alone. I’m tearful now, I can’t put in words all of the emotions I have felt through the past few weeks.

      • I am also waiting for my results. I feel the same way – strong in faith, but can’t stop crying. It’s scary not knowing. But maybe even more scary when I do know. But God will be with us through it all no matter what. Love to you. Stay strong, sister!

        • I am so happy that I happened upon your blog…..Can’t sleep…I was diagnosed yesterday with the “easy cancer” I haven’t cried yet because I felt guilty I am stage 1. I know the tears will come soon enough. Thank you for taking the guilt away.

          • Sandra…I too was diagnosed on the same day as you. I keep vacillating between feeling blessed and wondering how bad this actually will get. I keep feeling like this was meant to be, and how come I couldn’t avoid it through diet and exercise. My mother is a breast cancer survivor. She came down with it when most women didn’t survive and she’s 85, now. When I broke the news to her, she cried. I told her that I will do whatever I’m supposed to do to get on the right side of this and she said, “I know you will, I’m just sad to see you have to deal with this.” When the doctor asked how I was doing, emotionally, I told her that I’m blessed. No mastectomies, no chemo, no hair loss and vomiting or weakness. I should breeze right through! But, as every day unfolds, I realize that’s just wishful thinking. It’s sort of a state of denial and every day the page turns more toward reality. This is truly a gut punch to all who are diagnosed and regardless of your treatment plan, or your support system or insurance, cancer is cancer and we are all in a fight for our lives. My thoughts and prayers are with you and all who hear the words, “it’s cancer.” God bless you and your family. My plan is to learn to live with cancer, not die from it. That’s up to God.

  2. Sometimes I’m glad people haven’t got a clue – I’m happy for their innocence in that area of pain. Other times I want to grab them and let them see inside my head for just a minute to understand and know better. But there is no easy cancer. There is no easy emotional or physical trauma of any kind. ~Catherine

  3. I’m thrilled you wrote this. None of this is easy for anyone, no matter what stage or age or choice of treatment. I think we all share similar fears, similar pain and to separate it out takes the power out of that.

  4. I do try to keep in mind that people don’t know what to say, but this is NOT the thing to say! I had people say some pretty stupid things when I was diagnosed.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Yes, I am totally cutting this person some slack because people never know what to say. But it doesn’t mean we can’t have the conversation about changing the way people view certain cancers.

  5. Michelle says:

    I had breast cancer at 24 and people would tell me that I was “lucky” to have it so young because it is easy when you are younger. At 24, I was married. At 24, I had babies. At 24, there was nothing lucky about having cancer. And certainly nothing was easy about it.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Thank you for commenting, Michelle!
      I would love for you to consider be part of my October series where I have women share their stories about life after breast cancer. If you’re interested, please email me at wendy@wendy-nielsen.com. :)

  6. While this kind of stuff makes me nuts, it also makes me realize that it’s true that people have NO idea what to say when a friend gets cancer. I think it’s frustrating because you’re right, there is NO easy cancer… My mom had an “easy” cancer… but even though she didn’t have to do radiation and chemo, she still had to have a double mastectomy, had tamoxifen jack up her system, her teeth, her hair, her emotions, has no feeling in her new breasts and lives in fear of getting cancer again.

    yup, super easy.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Yes, yes, yes… that fear of metastatic disease can be crippling. I certainly have my own struggles with it! I think I need to write a post about things people should say when they learn a friend has cancer. I know there is probably one or a million out there already, though.

  7. Hi Wendy,

    I have been following your blog and this post just made me “need” to add my comment.

    I just completed radiation and the end of treatment after a very long year, for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, triple negative. This being one of the most rare and most aggressive types of breast cancer with a fairly low survival rate. So supposedly a not easy one without many treatment options. However the “best” kind that respondes well to traditional treatment. So does the “easy” kind make it any better? NOT!

    You are right cancer is cancer is cancer and none of it is easy mentally or physically. All treatment is hard on our bodies and minds. We are all strong to get through it because we have to be not because we want to be.

    Karin

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Amen, sister! I am so glad you follow and felt compelled to comment today!
      So, do you feel like you are wearing a lead vest now after finishing radiation? I was nearly broken by physical exhaustion during that treatment. It goes away though..just remember that! Also, you might have seen me mention it.. I’d love for you to contribute to my October series about life after breast cancer. If you’re interested, please email me at wendy@wendy-nielsen.com and I’ll get you added to my list of contributors!! xo

  8. From this side, it’s so hard to know what to say. That’s why I’m so thankful there are people like you educating the rest of us. It’s so important.

  9. Thank you for speaking my mind!!!

  10. Are they kidding?! What an awful thing to say! As a Type 1 Diabetic, I get, “Oooh, that’s the bad kind, right?” while yes, I do keep myself alive artificially,& type 2 or 3 you may still make your own insulin, the other types are not GOOD, either!! All I can figure (& hope??) is that people mean well, they just do not know what to say when they hear someone is ill or has conditions.

  11. While I agree with most of what has been said here, I have to say that during my treatment for breast cancer one of my coping mechanisms was to tell myself that while yes, I have cancer, at least it is not a hard one to treat – my cancer didn’t make me ill (except for the chemo side-effects obviously) unlike lots of other cancers that are often only detected after the person affected has become ill, and my tumour was relatively easy to remove, unlike other cancers which could be much deeper in the body. I would never say that my treatment has actually BEEN easy, I have had some horrible times over the past 9 months but I would say that the whole experience was not as bad as I feared it was going to be when I was first diagnosed. Personally, the phrase I hate most when talking about breast cancer to people is when they say” oh no, my Mum/Auntie/Gran/neighbour died of that”. I do agree with Lynne, above, about being labelled as brave because I was to the outside world apparently coping really well, I would argue that going into a burning building to save someones life is brave, all I have done is go through treatment with a determined look on my face instead of pulling the duvet over my head! I too feel fortunate that I live where I could receive prompt and excellent treatment.

  12. There is no easy cancer.I had a 3.5 cm grade3 aggressive comedo DCIS removed from deep,close to my chest wall.It was ”in situ”,I lost over 1/4 of my breast and it is severely indented.Having comedo high grade ,even if still in situ,puts me at very high risk for an aggressive comedo invasive cancer in the same area[near chest wall] within 5 years.I also had a radial scar which adds to my already very high risk of future aggressive cancer.The 3d digital mammo almost missed me,only one pic,one angle showed anything.All the other pics plus 1/2 hour of ultrasound,all done at the hospital,were negative.I was told DCIS in situ can be the best cancer to get but now I am facing a prophylactic double mastectomy ,because not all DCIS is benign.

  13. Teresa Oxendale says:

    My 84 yr. old Father was just diagnosed with breast cancer.
    Men get breast cancer to.
    Nothing with cancer is easy!

  14. i had DCIS in 2010. Five days before treatment, my husband suffered a major stroke.
    Nothing is easy about cancer. In fact, some people told me how lucky I was.
    Funny, I didn’t feel lucky, but am thankful for the fine doctors and treatment I got.
    Cancer is cancer. All is forgiven because those lucky others who never get diagnosed are the lucky ones. They just don’t get it. May they never hear the words, “You have cancer.”

    • Amen! My sister and I were diagnosed 2 weeks apart. Her Jul 7 2015, me July 20 2015. Mine was DCIS, hers was also but was invasive. She had chemo, I did not. There were a lot of comments made about me having the “easy cancer”. A lot of my family deserted me, and my mom acted as if she only had one child with cancer. I was told that me posting survivor comments on my fb was hurtful to her family and that “all I had to do was get my tits cut off and my cancer was gone”. What I went through with my bilateral mastectomy, my physical pain and my emotional pain it certainly has not been easy. Not only did it put me emotionally in a very depressed state, I lived/live with the guilt that my baby sister had it so much worse. I was 44, she 42. I had my surgery in September 2015 and still suffer physical pain and my emotional pain is far from better. She is having surgery next week, Jan 6, and I pray and cannot wait until she can say she too is a survivor!! If all those people only knew what us “easy” cancer people go through maybe they wouldn’t be so insensitive to our feelings. Thanks for posting this!!

      • Allison P says:

        Hi i was diagnosed on July 16th 2015 and alot of the words you have spoken i can relate too. Once i told family and friends and advised them it was stage 2 and i was to have op to remove lump they seem to think this was easy NOT! 20 radiotherapy sessions later i can safely say i hardly hear from anyone now i am waiting to have hysterectomy due to the cancer being a receptor i did not bother letting anyone know unless they called or texted and i told them…to be honest its fair from EASY!

      • Allison P says:

        Hi i was diagnosed on July 16th 2015 and alot of the words you have spoken i can relate too. Once i told family and friends and advised them it was stage 2 and i was to have op to remove lump they seem to think this was easy NOT! 20 radiotherapy sessions later and hair loss i can safely say i hardly hear from anyone now,i am waiting to have hysterectomy due to the cancer being a receptor i did not bother letting anyone know unless they called or texted and i told them…to be honest its far from EASY!

  15. Less than I year ago with the last child in University I did my research and plunked down a large chunk of money to make my boobs “pretty”. Breast feeding was not kind to my body. Today I’m waiting for my masectomy to be scheduled after an unsuccessful lumpectomy. I’m so tired and so angry at (well meaning) people who say things like “in a year from now this will all be over” and “your lucky they caught it early” or “just cut them off…who cares what you look like as long as it is gone”. I don’t feel lucky….these new boobs look amazing…so to lose them now after gaining so much confidence in the way I look just feels like a slap. I don’t feel lucky about taking drugs for the next 5 yrs or any of the things I’m going through. Yes, my cancer (IDC) might be easy to treat…but nothing about this feels “easy”.

    • I chose to have my right implant removed as well along with left required mastectomy. No one told me that implants are temporary. In 10 years you could be back in there having to get them replaced. Love yourself the way you are and use a push up bra like all other women do.
      Reconstruction doesn’t sound very appealing at this point post 5 weeks. I look like a gutted fish, but the pain from surgery, drain tubes and whatever this new roll under my arm is is making me think twice about it.

  16. I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago and all I have been hearing is, “That you are fine” and, “Everyone knows someone who has had breast cancer.” They treat me as if I have a common cold that it will go away. Meanwhile I am scared of what might happen and how I am going to feel after a double mastectomy. I know that I am considered one of the lucky ones because it is considered stage 0, but the fact of the matter is that my breasts have cancer and just because it has not spread to other parts of my body doesn’t mean that I am not still frightened. Currently, I have been going into a nesting mode trying to get as much done as I can before I have surgery. I want to make sure that things are in order for my husband and children, so they won’t have a lot to worry about. There is no such thing as easy cancer because if this was easy I would be feeling a whole lot better.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience and fears, Cynthia. Please keep me updated on your health.

  17. I found a great deal of comfort in all of these posts. Thank you! I had a stereotactic core needle biopsy last week and received the news only a few days ago that the biopsy contained precancerous cells. Now I am preparing for a lumpectomy in my right breast, radiation treatments and 5 years of tamoxifen. Most folks don’t even consider my condition cancer as a few friends/family members argued with me that since they caught it early and there were only a few precancerous cells, it isn’t cancer. I was even told I won the lottery of breast cancer since mine was caught in it’s earliest stages. The lottery? Really? Look, I get that I am lucky because many of you have endured much worse and my heart goes out to you all as you all are my true inspiration. I am also grateful beyond words that technology has advanced to the point where it can be detected very early but if not cancer, I’m not sure what else you would call it, “almost breast cancer,” “may-have-been-breast-cancer-if-I-weren’t-diligent-about-my-mammos,” or my favorite, “you just had a breast-cancer-scare.” Are you kidding me….just a scare? A scare happened after the first two mammograms came back suspicious and I was told to go for a biopsy….when they tell you there are precancerous cells it means they found cells in your body that began to mutate into what could become cancer. In my book that is a bit more than a just a “scare” and “nothing to worry about.” I don’t care what anyone calls it, the diagnosis still takes your feet out from under you and throws you way off center. The fear, the feelings, the disbelieve, are all the same and I can reassure anyone who has not sat in my place, you are as scared, shocked, saddened and angry as if the diagnosis were more serious. It is a big deal – to you – it is a very big deal! My doctor is very confident and positive, and the facts all support that I will physically recover fully, but I can’t say I’ll ever be “fine” as I know already that this has changed me forever. I know every annual mammogram hereafter I will be on pins and needles awaiting the results and that now my daughters are resigned to a lifetime of the same. I completely agree…yes, mine may be easy to treat but nothing about it is “easy.”

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, LC.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I’m so glad to read you found some comfort and thank you for commenting. Please keep me updated on your health! :)

      • Lumpectomy confirmed small area of DCIS (<1cm) but since surgery, my 1st visit with Oncologist found lump in left breast during exam. It seems that once suspicious looking microcalcifications were a discovered on the right not much attention was given to the left. Have MRI scheduled for this week with return visit with Oncologist for results…hoping it is nothing but worried it could be more and worse than on right. Just trying to stay positive and keep it together. New lump aside, I fall into the high risk category for reoccurrence so 5 years of tamoxifen which I started this week, and alternating mammograms and MRIs every 3 months for next 2 years then every 6 months for 3 years. Hearing the diagnosis after surgery was totally surreal and emotionally devastating but I find comfort in knowing that I am among the very fortunate as (right now anyhow) the cancer in the right breast was caught very early and considered just stage 0. I am not a warrior or consider myself a "survivor"…I'm just a regular woman with a regular life who was totally blindsided by a diagnosis I never expected. None of this has been easy. But once I surrendered to the reality of what was happening, allowed my heart to break over it all, talk out my feelings with my closest circle of friends and cry myself out, I was able to rise from the ashes with a new strength and feel better able to handled whatever comes next. (Xanax helps too) my hope is this helps another woman who is treading a similar path and let her know it is ok to freak out and be a total mess over it. It is a total game-changer and as this blog is title, nothing about it is easy. I've learned it is important to take it easy on yourself, deal one day at a time and just breathe….

    • i have breast cancer. Things have been a blur. Today I realized I may die from this. I had a lumpectomy. I am still waiting for results. Chemo next unless I need more surgery. I can not imagine putting that stuff in my body and how destructive that will be. I am scared but strong. I do not know what is next. Try to keep working or retire. If you ask too many questions you get everyone is different. So far, I feel like a statistic. What does it mean if it is not hormonal cancer? It is the harder one. I was not supposed to have cancer. Now my life has changed and I am just a visitor. The biopsy what a nightmare. Cut into you before you are numb. No cancer is not easy.

  18. After I finished my chemo and going through it alone, my husband told me,and I quote, “oh just get over it, everyone gets it, it is like the common cold. Quit your complaining”.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Oh Maria, I am so sorry that’s been your experience. I can certainly relate. Even six years out at this point, I still feel very isolated and often feel like I can’t reach out to those closest to me to talk about my fears or worries because I don’t want to bother them with it. Please feel like you can come here if you need to chat or find me on social media and we can talk.

  19. Miri Froelich says:

    I was diagnosed with triple negative stage one breast cancer which was followed by a bilateral mastectomy with two cleared nodes removed. I had my first chemo on March 10th and been wrecked since that apt. I am truly lucky to be dealing with wonderful and loving medical personal and without there support and belief I can blast through this… I might be going in for another session. The worst part of this has been for realtives to constantly tell me that my mom ‘s death last year was a blessing. I always told her that she is the strongest person I knew. I’d give almost anything for five minutes with my mother. To have her sit down next to me look me in the eye and tell me I am strong and can do anything just like I did for the 15 years we went to her cancers.

  20. Kimberly says:

    I cried when I read this! I was just diagnosed last week and am scheduled for a double mastectomy followed by radiation. There is a %50 chance I may not need chemo. People keep saying things about how nice my “new top” is going to look and how lucky I am that it’s “just a mastectomy”. I feel like murdering the next person who says something ridiculous to me! I know that no chemo would be a blessing (I had Hodgkins Lymphoma 9 years ago so I’ve already been through chemo and radiation), but this isn’t NOTHING!! I know this doesn’t change who I am but I am feeling a huge sense of grief and loss as I prepare to have parts of my body surgically removed!!!

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I’m with you, Kimberly. Thank you for sharing and please keep me updated. If you haven’t looked around the site yet, there is a lot of blog posts to help through the recovery. I hope you find something that eases you. — Wendy

  21. I have just started down this path…. I have been trying so hard to keep a brave face and convince MYSELF that I’ve got the ‘easy’ type. Reading this makes me realize I may have blurred the lines between being ‘brave’ and denial. I’ve tried to stay positive for my family, especially my children, because I know how they respond will be determined by my actions and how information is presented. Unfortunately, I may have made too light of the situation. Not quite sure they understand….

    • This is my situation exactly! I have just started on this path myself. Since I have been told it’s the “easy” kind, I have been able to play down the seriousness and even feel guilty if I start to worry too much. I have to stay positive for my kids so they won’t worry, but the truth is, I’m still very nervous.

  22. I am scheduled for a lumpectomy/node removal this Wednesday….I am still conflicted and wonder if I should have a mastectomy instead. They assure me the success rates are equal. It is early IDC 2.2cmx1…..I’m so tired of people that have no idea what I’m going through say things like but why aren’t you just getting rid of them both and you can get new ones!!

    • I did the same thing. Chose to have a lumpectomy and then worried, if I had made the right choice. I am still waiting on my pathology report to see if I need more surgery. Chemo next for me.

  23. Love these posts! I went to my gyno 7/31/2013 to get something for the hot flashes of menopause, what I got 7 stereotactic biopsies, 2 lumpectomies, a severe case of cellutis in the breast, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, 33 radiation treatments and bilateral reductions with reconstruction. My cancer was stage 1, ER/PR +, onco score of 17. My surgeon told me, easiest, best type of cancer, we cut it out, you have a little radiation and you go on and live the rest of your life. Sounded cool! The mental and physical exhaustion was sometimes overwhelming. And although I am coming up on my 2 year mark, I just seen my oncologist and had a mammo last month and all the fears and apprehension come flooding back every time. No it wasn’t easy, I know others have it much worse, but we have all suffered and continue to do so even though we are ” cured.” I did not have to have chemo, which I am very thankful for, and I was put on every aromatase inhibitor on the market, all with bad side effects. I decided life is too short to live that way, so I refused to try tamoxifen and am not medicating at all. I feel good, and I am thankful for my life and my friends and family. I hope everyone going through the same things, can find their peace, albeit short-lived at times. Good luck to everyone and God Bless.

    • How’s your life going? Are you still cancer free? I turned 47 on Jan. 12th and had the biopsy that day. I was diagnosed Jan. 13. Having a lumpectomy this Thursday. I have “grade 1″ IFDC. Won’t know until after surgery if I have to do Radiation or Chemo. or if I have more cancer elsewhere. Dr. did say this was the “best kind of cancer, if you have to have cancer”. I also don’t want to take any meds. (Tamoxifen) Wondering if those that didn’t take the meds for 5 years are ok.

      Hope all is well with you and your family!

      • wendy nielsen says:

        I’m doing well, Shelia. Thanks for asking. I passed my 7 year anniversary last October. Tell me why you don’t want to take Tamoxifen. I wasn’t a candidate for that drug but have been on an aromatase inhibitor for nearly 5 years now.

      • I am currently 49 and was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 45. I saw ur post and remember looking for the very same information when I was diagnosed Nov-2011with Infiltrating (0.9mm) and In-Situ Ductal Carcinoma (1.75cm) ER/PR+. My BrCa genetics results came back neg and I had an Onco score of 10. My oncologist recommended Tamoxifen for 5 yrs and no Chemo. I had a lumpectomy and after considering the location, size, and clear margins of my cancer, I was informed I could receive the traditional 6 wks of Radiation or the latest MammoSite Radiation therapy. The MammoSite Radiation therapy would be delivered from within a balloon-like device, placed within the lumpectomy site, and would be received twice a day over 5 days. Of course I opted for the 10 sessions of radiation via Mammo-Site vs the traditional 6wks of radiation of the entire breast. Ok for a re-cap…by Jan-2012, I had a left breast lumpectomy, mammo-site radiation and had started my Tamoxifen. I’m thinking ‘YES!’ …at this rate, I’ll be back to my life in no-time…..NOT! After a year of taking the Tamoxifen I began to have irregular periods…I began bleeding/spotting for several months. I saw my gynecologist and discovered the lining of my uterus had began to thicken, requiring a DnC. As all breast cancer patients who take tamoxifen know, there is an increased possibility of developing a more life-threatening type of uterin cancer from taking Tamoxifen. It was decided at that time I discontinue the tamoxifen or continue the tamoxifen and have a total hysterectomy (I discontinue the tamoxifen). Ok, for the next 3 to 4yrs I anxiously go to my mammogram screenings without fail. The stress this brings can be overwhelming at times. Although the thought of a recurrence is always in the back of ur mind…it’s never so much apparent as it is at the time of ur Mammogram. Fast-forward to Jan-2016…yep, u guessed it. I had new calcifications on my mammogram that weren’t present the yr before. After undergoing another biopsy, I was diagnosed with left breast cancer, DCIS ER+. I have since undergone bilateral-mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction and have several more procedures yet to come. I don’t know if my story will help ease your mind or cause you great worry. I do hope my story has helped to inform others of how life-changing this disease can be and in NO WAY should cancer ever be viewed as “The EASY KIND” under any circumstances. My guess is, It’s always considered easy when it’s happening to someone else. My prayers are with you and all who are faced with this horrible disease. May the great minds of this world soon find a cure. Best of luck!

  24. I find myself guilty of thinking this. I got my diagnosis on March 17th of DCIS. Lumpectomy on the 26th. 2.1cm area involved, but 10×9.7x3cm excision area. Nuclear grade 3. But “all” I have to do is 37 radiation treatments and 5 years on Tamoxifen. It’s so much less than what so many other women I know have gone thru or are going thru that I almost feel guilty saying that I have cancer. I even struggle because I since the lumpectomy, technically I don’t “have” cancer any more. I’ve watched my mom go thru two surgeries and two rounds of chemo for ovarian cancer, and she will have to do maintenance chemo for the rest of her life. I have a sorority sister who recently had her 9th reconstruction surgery because of infections and problems with first her expanders and then her implants. What I’m going thru is nothing compared to all of that! I had surgical site pain for several weeks and I’m starting to get some sores and maybe a little fatigue, but that’s it. I know how blessed I am and I guess that’s why I explain it away by saying that if I had to get breast cancer, I’m lucky to have gotten the “good/easy” one.

  25. Melanie Howard says:

    I recently had a mastectomy, I did not have to have follow up treatment, and people said how lucky I was not to have chemo or loose my hair, but I lost a breast, which I think is horrendous enough, people should not comment on things they know little of.

  26. Diane Burns says:

    Well, my path starts next week. I was diagnosed with stage 2, grade 3 aggressive non hormonal breast cancer. Had a MRI on 8/26/15 and a pet scan on 9/18 and the tumor has almost already doubled to 4 cent. Have a few lymph nodes affected. Having my port put in on Sept 29th and 2 days later Chemo starts. After that, I will have a mastectomy. It has been so over whelming. I’m 57 and a grandma to 3 kids that I’m very active with. The hardest part is not knowing if I can keep my schedule with them and work too. I read these posts and I know I’m not alone. The not knowing how “you” will react is the hard part for me. I think I can do this and work, but I just don’t know. With the holidays coming it scares me to thinks that I can’t. I do have a strong support system and I have a very strong faith. Thanks for women who share, it makes it a little less scarier.

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hi Diane,
      I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis. I can tell you that my anxiety was through the roof prior to starting treatment. I didn’t fear the surgery but the thought of chemo and how I would be affected (going into the holiday season, as well) really messed with me. I won’t lie. It was difficult but it also got easier once knowing how my body would react to it. The first chemo was the hardest for me. My advice: stay on top of the anti nausea meds, stay super hydrated and rest. Please circle back and let me know how you’re doing. Also, I have a lot of great posts from survivors you might want to explore: http://wendy-nielsen.com/category/cancer-survivor-stories-and-tips/

      • Diane Burns says:

        Wendy,
        Got up early to go do my first Chemo on Thursday, Oct.1. (I thought it was ironic that Breast Cancer awareness month was Oct. and I was starting my treatment on the 1st) and I was definitely a little scared and nervous. We were one of the first ones there, They found a recliner for me and told me to get comfortable. Of course, I couldn’t I was fidgeting and then I saw the tray coming. I think I turned a little pale and quiet. The nurse was very receptive and put me at ease and explained all the different things before the Chemo even gets started. About an hour in she came with 2 big red filled syringes that I didnt’ have to ask what those were. And I’m thinking “and so it begins”, it kind of brought tears to my eyes, knowing the next 4-6 months won’t be the same again. When all was done, we were on the road for lunch. I still felt pretty good, ate a good lunch, a little shopping then home. Friday I felt a little queasy but managed to work a full day and thought I can do this. Then Saturday came, couldn’t get out of bed, I was so tired and queasy. I slept that whole day and night without eating anything. Then Sunday morning came, I so wanted to go to church, but I didn’t half the strength to take a shower. So back to bed I went. Then the vomiting started, the queasiness, the weakness, thought, I can’t do this. I was hurting so much, my family trying to help me and feeling helpless. Call to the Dr with no return call didn’t help matters. Finally Monday morning and a little ray of sunshine, I felt better. Called the Dr first thing and by the afternoon they had added Ativan to my regiment which really helped. Been doing good ever since. My morning are still the hardest, but I’ve never been a morning person anyway, but the days are good. If it wasn’t for the taste in my mouth constantly I really would be doing good. I pray round 2 goes as good and I will be more prepared for side effects if they come. So as my main fear was the not knowing, I know now, that I can do just about all things, just not as hard, as long, or as much. But knowing I can still keep my grandson a day a week and pick up my granddaughters from school is good enough for me. The Christmas shopping and what not, may not so much. Oh well, there is still on-line shopping.

        • wendy nielsen says:

          Thank you for sharing, Diane. The first round of chemo was my hardest. Stay on top of those anti-nausea meds and have you tried Biotene mouthwash? Might help with the wacky taste buds.

  27. Wait…you mean I could have chosen an “easy” one??

  28. Lindsay T says:

    Thank you all for your posts. Today has been a rough one for me but I feel a little less crazy knowing I’m not the only one that feels that “the easy diagnosis” is not all that easy. I am 26 and was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in late July. I had a lumpectomy in August and started radiation this week. I also started tamox last week. I am reminded frequently about how many bullets I dodged by not doing chemo and not having to worry about freezing my eggs that I started to think “yeah, maybe this was easier than I made it out to be.” But the reality is that it’s not. Radiation is already causing a few side effects, I’m on a constant emotional roller coaster which I think is caused by stress, a sudden change to estrogen free birth control and the medication. And I’m struggling with the fact that my breasts are never going to be the same. Call me superficial but being in my 20’s, that’s a tough pill for me to swallow.

    Don’t get me wrong, I count my blessings everyday. I am alive and I am a better person because of this. But cancer is hard, both physically and mentally and the “easy cancer” is not proving to be very easy.

    Stay strong ladies. Don’t let anyone belittle what you have gone through. You are all amazing.

  29. I’m so glad to have seen this thread as I thought I was the only one who felt guilty for having an easy breast cancer. They managed to get both the DCIS (intermediate) and invasive ductal cancer (stage1) at the first attempt (lumpectomy). They took 8 sentinel nodes and a quarter of my breast.

    I feel guilty as I am constantly being told I am so lucky and I absolutely know I am as all I have left to do is 5 years of Tamoxifen and a course or radiation. I don’t know how much yet as not seen the oncologist.

    If I am so lucky, why do I still feel pain in my breast and why is my breast still numb and sore, why am I terrified that because I am drug sensitive that the tamoxifen is about to knock my life completely out of kilter for at least the first few months whilst my body tries to deal with the hormones.

    If I am so lucky, why am I dreading the radiotherapy which everyone tells me is nothing and at least I don’t have to have chemotherapy and will keep my hair.

    If I am so lucky, why am I feeling so guilty about being so tired and having days where all I want to do is sit and cry. I pretend on a daily basis to my friends and family that I am fine and say that this is nothing and that everything is great.

    I know I am lucky as they have got the cancer and it is no longer in my body and that I can see the end in sight.

    • Sandra, your post was really helpful to me. I hope you are feeling better further along your journey now. You are a couple of months ahead of me and what you wrote struck a chord with how I feel right now x

  30. We found out after a mammogram, ultra-sound, & biopsy 2 weeks ago that it was breast cancer. My choice to do a mastectomy and the surgeon was like we do this quick! So 6 days after the diagnosis I am now missing a boob. I’m recovering at home awaiting the results of what they find.
    I’m floored that this was outpatient surgery but thankful to be able to recoup at home. Just hopeful there is no more treatment required other than reconstructive surgery!
    I pray no one says to me glad I had an easy one!
    L

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Your mastectomy was outpatient? I had a lumpectomy and that was outpatient. I hated feeling rushed out of the hospital. I thought the rule for mastectomies was one day for each breast. Silly, I know. But wow. Hoping you’re recovering. Be kind and patient with yourself.

  31. Day one of the battle with my “easy cancer” beast. Got the call this morning so very unclear on staging etc. What I do know – Invasive Ductal Carcinoma ER/PR Positive. The surgeon is to call tomorrow and we’ll go from there. I’ve just begun and I can tell you already this is not EASY. Telling your children (all grown and on their own) that you have cancer, when cancer has killed almost everyone in our family, is not easy.

    I too am a fighter, have faith in God, an amazing support system, but somehow with all that, I can’t imagine any of this will be easy.

    I’ve been amazed at how much blogs like this one have helped me. Through initial testing, waiting for biopsy results and now diagnosis.

    I wish you all great outcomes as we battle this beast!

    Remember now matter how much “good advise” you get, do what’s good for YOU and take care of all of YOU!

    Beckie

    • wendy nielsen says:

      Hi Beckie,
      Thanks for sharing. How are you doing?

      • Hi Wendy –

        Some days are better than others – guess that is to be expected, yet still very unwelcome. Surgery is scheduled for January 8th for a lumpectomy with a sentinel lymph node biopsy. After I heal they will do radiation (typical) and depending on staging on the cancer, possibly chemo.

        Yesterday was a frustrating day – any day I have a doctor’s appointment or more tests to schedule I get in a funk. I am typically not ever sick, doctor’s appointments are limited to only the yearly stuff, so this has been very overwhelming.

        I can laugh now, but last night it was no laughing matter. I was baking pies for my work Holiday Party (which is today) and coming off of a rough day, I pull out a pumpkin pie, pipping hot and step back onto my dog who had come in the kitchen to check out the yummy smells. Lost my footing and the pie went EVERYWHERE! In my hair, all over the dog (who is white btw), on the counters and the cabinets, on the floor…I just sat down and cried! After a good cry I picked myself up, washed the dog, cleaned up the kitchen, poured a large glass of wine and went and took a bubble bath. This morning I went to the grocery store and bought my pies – Stress free!

        Cancer sure changes your perspective on things. There was a time that there is no way I would have even considered buying a pie, but now, it just doesn’t matter – I just don’t think there is such a thing as bad pie! Let’s Eat and have a very stress-free Merry Christmas!

  32. Thank you for these posts. I was diagnosed on Monday. I have the “easy” cancer and am “lucky.” I know it cpuld be worse. I have seen loved ones suffer from treatment and intimately die despite their valiant efforts. I don’t feel “lucky.” I am scared. Terrified. I just started a new job and moved my family several states a week prior to my diagnosis. I am worried about how my employer will react. I have a law degree and know I am legally entitled to FMLA, but I also know reality is I will be viewed and treated differently. I w orrry about expenses. I worry about side effects of treatments. Lucky is last word I woulld ever use to describe cancer.

  33. So glad I clicked on this site, as I scrolled down reading everyone’s post. I found myself shaking my head (yes) and crying. I was diagnosed last week and it has taken me to another place. I have worried and wondered how did this happen to me better yet “WHY”. Deciding to tell my family has been the biggest issue, I have a big loving family but I know they are going to want to put their lives on hold to help me, and I am not ready for that. My husband and oldest son have been very helpful. I told them but haven’t decided how or when to tell my 8 year olds. Just how do you do that and when., it at all. I have stage 1A cancer and it was found early doing my yearly mammogram. Pray for me and I will for all of you, as I try to look at myself for who I am “Loved”

  34. Was diagnosed Jan 2012 with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. Had chemo, bilateral mastectomy, radiation and an oopherectomy. I’m so blessed that I went 4 years cancer free. Unfortunately this past week I was told I now have metastic breast cancer. I have experienced every emotion known to mankind. The sad thing is people who haven’t had cancer just don’t get it….you can’t just “shake it off”. Cancer changes your life…sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. I’m scared and feel alone as I’m now a stage IV. I don’t mean to be Debbie Downer but I just need to say that I am scared to people that actually understand my feelings. You will all be in my prayers.

  35. Kathy Sonek says:

    At age 40 I was diagnosed with DCIS in right breast. With no family history I was a little shaken but grateful it was caught early on a mammogram. Lumpectomy and 6 weeks of radiation followed. Had barely any side effects from the radiation and was able to carry on as normal. After so many years I became complacent with my routine mammograms assuming that I was done with cancer. Well turning 60 this year and a routine mammogram revealed a similar area of concern in same area as before. The biopsy revealed this time slightly invasive but low grade. My treatment after already having radiation to the area was mastectomy. I was in shock for a minute and then just wanted it done. So less than 2 weeks from diagnosis I had a mastectomy of the right breast with lymphnodes removed. I am4 days post op and feeling surprisingly good. Even made it out to a baby shower yesterday. Still waiting for pathology results to decide on any further treatment but Dr feels fairly certain no spread. I have to say I do feel lucky in the realm of breast cancer. I admire so many women much younger, that are undergoing all this and more while raising young children. I am grateful that there are now so many treatment options. So no, a cancer diagnosis is never easy but there are some treatments that are easier than others. I admire all the women on here who have been through this or are just going through it. You are all brave and strong because we have no other choice b thanks for listening. K xo

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