Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm Sorry to Meet you Here

So, you've heard. And, I'm sorry to tell you, you have heard correctly. I have breast cancer. I am 30. This sucks. Let's just get that out of the way right off the top.

I've decided to start this blog for a number of reasons but mostly it is because I live in Korea where almost no one I love or care about actually is and I want to keep everyone who wants to be informed, informed without having to tell that same story 60 times (okay, that is an exaggeration, there aren't likely to be 60 of you, but you get the idea).

I belong to a fairly exclusive club now. While waiting for diagnosis I did a lot of research on the probability that someone like me would get cancer. I found a lot of statistics and they all said pretty much the same thing: I had nothing to worry about. One online test (and of course you can trust everything on the internet) suggested my probability of getting cancer was 0.43%. Despite that, I have cancer. And I know that there are a lot of other young women out there that have cancer so maybe my story can help them feel less crappy - assuming of course they find this blog.

Anyway, let's get down to the business of discussing my tumor, which I have named Ethel. What Ethel doesn't know is I am making speedy plans to get rid of her. She is an unwanted roommate and I have called the cops. Want to know Ethel's details? Well, she is sneaky so I don't know much yet but here is what I do know.

She is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. In breast cancer land, she is pretty common. 80-85% of all breast cancer is IDC. We also know that she seems to be small - probably right around 1 cm. If that is indeed the case, I likely have stage 1 cancer. This is a good thing. It means the odds that our break-up will end with me alive are pretty darn high. We will know more once they start putting radioactive die in me and taking pictures of my insides. After that they will actually start poking around in my boob and the definitive answers will come. Has Ethel invited friends to live in other parts of my breast? Does she have a nasty ex lurking in my lymph nodes? Who knows! This promises to be an exciting week. The doctors seem very calm and reasonably hopeful that the cancer is still just in my boob and not in my lymph nodes.

I met with the Dean on Oncology today. Obviously, I am a person of importance. He said the following, in a way that was not at all rude and very reassuring, "Breast cancer is not a big deal. To the patient, I know that it is a big deal, but honestly it is not a big deal." I wanted to kiss his little old man self for at the same time telling me to get over myself and acknowledging that most people in my shoes are worried.

In the upcoming week I have a lot of tests ahead of me. Some are just to see how I will respond to anesthesia. Korean's are heavy on the diagnostic tests so I have to have an EKG and blood work and a whole lot of ultrasounds. I also have to have an MRI and a PET scan which will help tell if that cancer has spread at all. Once this is all compiled I will meet with the surgeon to discuss options. At this point I favour a lumpectomy but I'm going to do whatever I need to to make sure Ethel has been kicked to the curb. If that means she gets the boob in our divorce, I guess that is the way it has to be.

I will continue to update this as much as I feel able to. It is an easier way for me to connect with people back home given the time difference and the fact that you are all mostly employed people or people dealing with young babies. The bottom line that you should take away from this at the close of my first Boobey Trapped post is that, in spite of cancer, I am doing well. I plan to continue to be my awesome, hilarious self and I invite you to treat me the way you treated me when I didn't have cancer. Let's not change what was already working well. Okay, maybe you can baby me the teeniest bit for the next few months or until I am done my treatment but mostly I'd prefer if we all just continued living our lives as though Ethel had never existed.


PS - I know that is a weird way to spell "Boobey" but "Booby" and "Boobie" were already taken. Live with it. I am.


  1. You are hilarious! What a great post. See ya Ethel. Let's kick her to the curb.

    - Bridget

  2. Hi Laura, I'm so sorry you're going through this. Paul told me that your health care situation has improved and I'm so happy to hear that you're getting better support. Must make a world of difference. Just want you to know that I'm thinking of you.


  3. Laura, you are so inspirational!! This is SO funny!! Xoxo Nat

  4. ... I was so delighted to see your name in my inbox, less excited to hear your news. I have full confidence that you will take Ethel down. I'm glad you're blogging about it (you know how I feel about having things out in the open...). Good luck and thanks for letting me know.

  5. Once Ethel is out of there you should put her in a jar and mail her to your enemies.

  6. Very funny and exactly what I was talking about have the personality to deal with this better than most people I know. ROCK ON!!