Breast Cancer Awareness

BreastThere’s nothing like actually getting breast cancer to make one fully “aware” of it – but I don’t recommend that route. Trust me on this. Become “aware” NOW.

On Halloween, my gynecologist did a breast exam on me and found a lump – another lump, one of many lumps found over the years which always turned out to be nothing after going for the mammograms and ultrasounds. I wasn’t concerned.

But when I went for the tests this time, the radiologist spent a long time reading my results and when he finally came into the room to talk to me, he advised me to have a biopsy. He sent the report to my gynecologist. When she called me the next day and urged me to see a breast surgeon,using the words highly suspicious and solid mass, I became concerned, and rightfully so. After the biopsy and MRI, I was diagnosed with Infiltrating Ductile Carcinoma.

I struggled to maintain consciousness as I sat on the exam table in the surgeon’s office, watching him point to my films on the light board  His voice faded into the background while I tried to make sense of the build-up he was giving me before he finally uttered the word no one wants to hear, ever.

The only thing that kept me from fainting was the flood of rage that washed over me like a tsunami. How dare this happen to me? I’m ridiculously healthy, I nursed my children, I don’t drink, smoke or swear. Okay I swear like a motherfucker, but you get the picture. Plus, I’d gotten a mammogram every year for the past ten years – except last year.

I had no insurance last year, but I was healthy and I figured it was no big deal to skip a year. What I didn’t know was, given its size, it must have already been there two years ago. but difficult to see on the mammogram. In other words, cancer had successfully evaded detection and took full advantage of the year I skipped. Now the mass is 3 centimeters at best, 5 at worst, and I’m scheduled for a double mastectomy within the next 10 days.

Am I the guest of honor at my own pity party right now? You bet I am. But I’m telling you. Don’t you let your apparent good health make you stupid. Don’t allow a clear mammogram to lull you into complacency. Just because they can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Don’t ignore it if you notice that one of your breasts changes its shape, or  if one breast sags a teeny bit more than the other all of a sudden. Yes, I noticed that about 5 or 6 months ago and attributed it to aging. I was wrong.

PizzaEmotionally, I’m poised on the verge of frantic terror and dogged determination to rid myself of this insidious monster.

In terms of pizza consumption, today was a four slicer.



Posted in Announcements.


  1. Oh, man…forget what I was working on, I am showing up at your party with a case of wine — unless you’d prefer a motherfucking case of bourbon. If you don’t drink it, by god, I will. What a terrifying, totally unfair thing to happen. And you’ve got to have the surgery within 10 days? Did they say why the rush? Have they checked you for metastasis and don’t see any but are afraid it’s about to go that route? Denise, I am so sorry this is happening to you, and, god, I wish I knew what to do to fix it. My heart is with you.

  2. Hi Denise,
    Not sure what to say, but I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I hope your surgery goes well.

  3. Denise, You should be pissed off. I am. You don’t deserve this. But, once you get over the anger and eat enough pizza, be strong and be very positive. You know you will beat this one as you’ve always beaten the odds in everything you’ve done your entire life! Plus you have Carol Elaine Reid in your corner and so many of us who are pulling for you, so you cannot lose! Much love, PHEEEEEEEEEEEEL

  4. Like Elizabeth, I’m stumped for words. And I’m fucking pissed off with the universe for messing with you.


  5. Well, this just sucks. I don’t know what else to say now. I’m sending you a long, private email – as if things weren’t already bad enough.

  6. Aw, Sweetie, you know how I feel… sad, outraged, pissed and determined to walk with you and Carol through this insult and injury. Grrrrrrr……. I want to savagely bite something!

  7. Denise, When I first heard about you having a by-opsy fear rushed in my brain for you. Now after weading what you wrote I know that you will adapt and over come this. You are a very strong women who refuses to give into anything. I will pray for you to have a fast recovery. Let life kick you forward, let your spirt kick the cancer backwards. We are here to help in anyway we can.

  8. Thanks for the spirit boosters you guys. “Positive” isn’t something I do well, but neither am I negative. I’m just PISSED and I won’t HAVE IT!! That’s about as adaptive as I get right at this moment and I guess that will have to do for now.

    Dottster, the good news for you in all of this is: I don’t have smelly curtains. Actually, I don’t have curtains at all. A little light dusting and a couple of your stewed chicken thighs will be more than enough. 😉

    Sherry, I could always count on you to make a mockery of every situation.

    Kelly and Pheeeeeel, I was feeling a little gluttonous about the pizza. Thanks for the permission.

    Fia, it helps to have someone validate my pissed-off-ish-ness. Carry on.

    Kathleen, I am the one who is rushing it. I swear to you, I FEEL the cells dividing in there. As for your offer of hard liquor, don’tchaknow that it’s recommended that cancer patients DON’T drink? Hence…the pizza.

    and Boog – you’re now well on your way to actually deserve the sainthood that some people have mistakenly attributed to you in the past.

  9. Good choice on the double mastectomy. That’s what I would do. That’s the kind of breast cancer my mom had around 20 years ago, that I was telling you about. Stay strong, we send our love. M&P

  10. I’m here. I’m following. And, I’ll continue to be here till the massive-pizza-eating-celebrating-day you write to all of us you’re cured, with a clean bill… I’ve been through this with a ton of women, it’s my pro-bono work… and I’m riding it out with you.

    Big cyber hug and lemme know if there’s anything I can do to help?


  11. I am absolutely numb, shocked, saddened yet very hopeful. You are an amazing woman, with fire and a great support system. (and an AWESOME writer)
    I am with you girl!

  12. Thank you for all the love each of you is sending my way. My good friend Irene, who has gone through this, made me a breast cancer “binder” and inserted a page to write down the names of people who care about me. She said it would help to look at it when I’m at my wits end. I didn’t think I’d have this many names. I might have to print out these messages to remind me of how awesome I’m supposed to be through all this!

    Sandy, stay hopeful. Angela, only 20 years? But 80 is so young. Come on, look into your crystal ball and see if you could double it. Fia, I’ll be waiting for that cape in the mail. It will be much more fashionable than a hospital gown. Paulette, my newest friend, thank you for being here. Mary, my favorite nurse! Wish you were in town. Penny, thanks for the try today. And Kathleen, don’t rip anyone a new one until I get back so I could enjoy it.

    Hugs, D

  13. Only you can make me laugh out loud at breast cancer!
    I will barter lessons in prayer. I could also barter some hypnosis pre-op…for a hair trimming. It’s getting long.

    Brooklyn, your sack nephew is very upset. Me, too.
    Miss you’s.


  14. Just saw this today. Have you had your surgery? I wish you all the best – I have several friends who survived this and are fine. My friend Robin had drugs that did not cause her to lose her hair or get nauseous – if you’re interested I’ll ask her about it. Hang in there, baby. You’ve overcome a lot – I’m thinking about you.

  15. Hey Mair, I don’t get how easy it was to opt out of breast reconstruction, but when I think of losing my hair, it freaks me out. It would be great if I didn’t have to take anything that affected my crowning glory. I guess everyone has a point at which vanity kicks in.

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