One Year On

So… it’s been a year 13 months since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began treatment. A long, arduous year, the likes of which I hope never to see again.

At the moment, I don’t have the time, energy, or interest to do a full recap. The short version: I found a 2.3cm tumor in my right breast. The tumor (along with a large but not disfiguring chunk of my breast) was removed, along with some axillary lymph nodes (to which the cancer had not spread).

Analysis of the tumor determined that my chance of recurrence would be diminished by chemotherapy as well as radiation, to < 7%. So… I did chemo and radiation. The irony is: if I never get this breast cancer again, I will not know whether the treatment succeeded – or was simply unnecessary.

Thanks to a very understanding and supportive employer (Ericsson) and colleagues, I worked (from home) through all but five weeks of treatment, because I wanted to: it was a lot better for me mentally than taking months off would have been. Ericsson was fantastic about all of it; I wrote about that for the Ericsson Careers blog.

Huge thanks also to a great many people in my life: Brendan, friends, family, and some friends I haven’t even met yet (except maybe on Twitter) – for supporting me emotionally as well physically through all of this. A good support system helps in the darkest times, and I am humbled by the love and generosity of so many. Thank you!

Last  week, I had my first post-treatment mammogram and ultrasound: all clear! Which was a huge relief, though cancer is never really “over.” No test can definitively say that a cancer will never return. And I’m still dealing with side effects from chemo, radiation, and tamoxifen, and will be for some time (with some side effects, possibly for the rest of my life). But, little by little, I can catch glimpses of what normal me (whatever that was) used to feel like.

photo above: first hair styling post-chemo, December 2015

A list of all my pieces about breast cancer (some of them long) is here.

3 thoughts on “One Year On

  1. Richard Straughan

    Dear Deirdré

    I believe a good decade has passed since I cold-called you from England wondering which of the Straughan’s had purchased the domain, and then just we had a delightful conversation, thank you.

    Tonight my youngest son informed me he’d viewed your blog; and now aghast by news your illness and respectful of your dignity of your presentation of your fight against breast cancer, I wish you and yours so well into 2016 and well beyond

    Straughans’, if nothing else, are tenacious; we are the aboriginal to Scotland.

    My Best Wishes

  2. Deirdre Straughan Post author

    Thanks! I had a clean mammogram recently, so for the moment it looks as if the cancer is gone and may never be an issue again (though I suppose I’ll probably always worry about it to some extent). Best wishes to you and all your Straughans as well! Maybe one of these years I’ll visit the ancestral seat and meet our new laird.

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