October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Australia. It’s also the month in which I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. It hadn’t occurred to me until my husband pointed it out, that the end of the year, and October in particular, generally tends to be a pretty shit time for us. Upon reflection, he is absolutely right:
October 2006 – miscarriage #1
October 2007 – incredibly traumatic, non-stop bleeding during first trimester of Hugh’s pregnancy. During that month, I had no fewer than eight internal ultrasounds (or dildo-cams as we call them in the business). My uterus could’ve started its own youtube channel.
October 2008 – the exception that proves the rule
October 2009 – miscarriage #3
October 2010 – diagnosed with secondary infertility
October 2011 – miscarriage #4 and Dave’s grandmother died
October 2012 – diagnosed with breast cancer
If I was a superstitious type I’d be starting a petition to have October officially removed from the calendar. But rather than giving into the instinct that makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide for the entire month, I am taking back October. I’m going to be sharing stories on this blog from some amazing, interesting and funny women who’ve also had to deal with bastard breast cancer. I’m also going to be sharing my own story in person, at my first ever speaking gig at the Colour of Change luncheon in Toowoomba, in front of around 200 people [gulp], to raise money for BreastScreen Queensland. I’m going to host a morning tea at my workplace, and guilt my long-suffering colleagues into donating money to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, because I am living, breathing evidence that research saves lives. And on 28 October, even though I will be so full of fear that it will take me several minutes to convince myself to get out of my car and walk into the breast clinic, I’m going to have my annual mammogram and ultrasound, because early detection saves lives.
Here’s to you, October.
Let’s hope this October and all the ones that follow are exceptions to the rule.
Yep. Yep. Yep. And yep again.
Awesome post – give October all you’ve got and turn the tide!!
Ps not all bad things happen in October … I was born in that month after all 😉😄😄
Another reason to take October back!!
Oh, I’m so with you. I was diagnosed October 9th 2012, the 25th anniversary of my mother’s death from ovarian cancer (thanks for that, BRCA2). October: NOT my favourite month.
Oh Candy, I’m so sorry October is a shit month for you too. I’m so looking forward to being able to publish your story on the blog during October, so we can take back the month and make it our own.
Another one here diagnosed in October, 2010, two weeks before my birthday. Diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) – inoperable – but I’m still here!
Hi Angela, wow, your story is quite amazing. My cancer was initially suspected to be IBC but turned out to be IDC (LOL at all this acronyms). You are four years on now – is five years the magic survival number with IBC too?
Yep, 5 is the magical number for IBC too. Although I will remain on Zoladex and Arimadex for the rest of my life because they could not operate. My life is one long hot flush, I can’t sleep and my joints ache. However I’m still here for my daughter, who is going through puberty as I remain in a state of menopause. You can imagine what the tempers are like with us both. Poor dear has been living with a sick mum since she was seven.
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So you only have a year to go until the magic five year mark – that is fantastic Angela. I hope you power through the next 12 months. I’m on arimadex too, started mid-year and have to take it for five years. I hate it – joint pain, sleep issues, dry vagina, random muscle issues. I found a medical journal article about a small study done on how to manage the side effects of arimidex. It showed that accupuncture has excellent results for joint pain, and that taking glucosamine and fish oil also helps. I started on Nature’s Way Osteo Flex and it has made a difference to my joints (although my fingers ache as I’m typing this) and I am having fortnightly accupuncture which is also helping. The sleep thing is bloody awful, I find I can’t get to sleep, feel really anxious and wired, and then I go into a deep sleep around 4am and find it so difficult to wake up and get organised. I work full-time and the sleep issues are so hard to manage. Do you do/take anything to try and help with that? My son was 4 when I was diagnosed and it certainly changed his life, but living with a sick mum is far better than living with no mum at all.
Oh, I would like to add that I am still considered stage 3. I didn’t respond to chemo and so went on to curative radiation instead (The most they have ever given anyone). Surgeons still agreed better not to operate, too risky. To much skin damage. Although after the surgeon looked at my skin six months after radiation he said that if I really wanted surgery, he thought my skin had healed well enough to give it a shot.
I am stage 3 too, 3C because of size of tumour (8cm) and 12 of 16 lymph nodes involved. It sounds like you are doing amazingly well considering your original diagnosis. I think it’s true to say that we don’t know what we’re capable of dealing with until we have no other choice.
My magic deep sleep number is 6am!!!!
OMG, seriously, you just made me feel so normal. It’s not just me!! Yay!!