Saturday, November 20, 2010

TCDG Banquet

"The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time"
-Abraham Lincoln
Last night was our roller derby banquet. It was one hell of a party - dining, drinking & dancing! As Coach La so rightly pointed out, we had a lot to celebrate. We are one awesome league. Awards were given out and due to our fight against breast cancer, my esteemed league mate, Kim (a/k/a Coffey Break-Her) and I were both named Most Inspirational. I'm proud to share the award with her as Kim is one of the best women I have ever met. She truly understands this battle.
Roller derby is the best thing going on in my life for many reasons. Lets face it, derby is the only year-round amateur sport where you can:

- play in front of paying fans against teams from all over the area
- maintain some anonymity while becoming semi-famous
- “win” the after-bout party
- be surrounded by athletic women – some of whom have great "boutfits"
- let every inhibition you have fly out the window
- have the strongest legs in town
- smell like road kill and vomit simmering on the stove
- make hundreds of new friends – all of whom enjoy life to the fullest

It’s a multi-level, interdependant relationship where I’m constantly evolving. I’m very aware of what physical activity does for my serotonin levels. After practice I always feel better about my life. One of the best things to have happened to me was being given this award. It’s so amazing to be validated by the community you’re immersed in. That thoughtful gesture made me stop and think for awhile and got me to see myself for who I really am. Who doesn’t love having an outlet to shine in and to be appreciated for it? Roller Derby has connected me to a local community of awesome women.
What my league mates don't realize is how much they inspire me. Every derby move is magic because you are making something happen. With inspiration and perspiration, enthusiasm and hard work come results. There are many skills that I hope to improve upon, and watching others gracefully execute them gives me inspiration. The Twin City Derby Girls have some stellar athletes who play at a competitive level that I hunger for. I greatly admire our founding members and local superstars of roller derby. I look up to them in awe, like a kid watching Michael Jordan fly through the air in a slam dunk from the foul line.
It has certainly been my privilege to skate with all the TC Derby Girls. Thank you all for sharing your strength, passion and commitment with me. A big shout out to The 'Paign and Coach Rice for giving me the will to continue this breast cancer battle. I look forward to next season!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hurry up and wait...

The doctors have decided that I may need a mammotome biopsy. My mammogram x-rays will be sent over to the hospital where they will be evaluated to see if the mammotome biopsy can be done. If so, they will schedule it. If not, other options will have to be explored. A breast biopsy using the Mammotome Biopsy System offers a minimally invasive alternative to an open surgical biopsy, the most common method, which can leave scarring and result in disfigurement of the breast. Through the use of imaging methods such as X-ray or ultrasound, a breast abnormality or lump can be detected, even in its earliest stages. Using the same imaging methods, a physician can guide a Mammotome probe into a suspicious area of the breast to gently collect the abnormal tissue through one small, ¼-inch incision. With this system, a breast biopsy can be performed in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia. A doctor can make a precise analysis with minimal pain, scarring and recovery time. The biopsy procedure takes less than an hour, and patients can return to their normal daily activities immediately. The patient lies face down on a special table with the breast protruding through a hole in the table, which allows for a clear mammographic image of the area. The table is connected to a computer that processes digital images. Placement of the sampling device is guided by a computerized system using x-rays. The procedure involves the one-time insertion of a probe directly into the area of the breast that appeared suspicious based on a physical exam or an abnormal mammogram finding. The doctor guides the probe through the use of ultrasound or stereotactic imaging systems. Once inside, the Mammotome gently vacuums out suspicious tissue for analysis.
The entire procedure looks like this: First, the skin of the breast is cleaned. Then, a small amount of local anesthetic (lidocaine), similar to what one might have at a dentist’s office, is injected into the skin and deeper tissues of the breast using a small hypodermic needle. Under stereotactic or ultrasound guidance, the radiologist or breast surgeon positions the special breast probe into the area of the breast where the lesion (abnormality) is located. Afer the probe has been properly positioned, a vacuum line draws the breast tissue through the aperture of the probe into the sampling chamber of the device. Once the tissue is in the sampling chamber, the rotating cutting device is advanced and a tissue sample is captured. The tissue sample is then carried through the probe to the tissue collection area (a standard pathology tissue cassette). After a tissue sample is captured, the radiologist or surgeon then rotates the thumbwheel of the probe, moving the sampling chamber approximately 30 degrees to new position. The entire cycle is repeated, until all desired areas have been sampled (typically, eight to 10 samples of breast tissue are taken 360 degrees around the lesion). When a sufficient number of tissue samples have been collected, the radiologist or surgeon will remove the probe and apply pressure to the biopsy site. An adhesive bandage will be applied to the skin nick. In some cases, a small sterile clip will be placed into the biopsy site of the breast to mark the location in case a future biopsy is needed. This microclip is left inside the breast and causes no pain, disfigurement, or harm to the patient. After the biopsy is complete, the tissue samples will be sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis.
This is what the instrument looks like:

The surgeon tried to reassure me by telling me that 80% of biopsies result in a benign diagnosis. To that, I replied, "Have we met? I always fall into that small percentage!" He just smiled and told me not to jump the gun. This is so emotionally exhausting! When will they learn to listen to me?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why does God hate me so much?

It has been one emotional roller coaster of a day. I really would like to know why God hates me so much! I had my annual mammogram today, which should be half-price since I only have one boob, right? (Be warned, radiologists have no sense of humor!) And of course they found some "suspicious" spots in the remaining breast that were not there last year. Then I learned that recurrences in HER2-positive breast cancer tend to happen in the first year or two. Damn, just when I thought treatment was ending. I have a surgical consult on Thursday. I knew they should've taken them both last year! I have been having a recurring nightmare that I was going to have to continue treatment and now it just might be true! My response to this turn of events was to turn the music up loud, sing at the top of my lungs and dance to the Time Warp!!! I didn't give a damn if anyone saw me! It's a great stress reliever.
I was feeling so good about treatment ending and moving forward with my life. I decided that I needed to "inspire" other survivors and was just approved to be an Imerman Mentor Angel. Imerman Angels carefully matches and individually pairs a person touched by cancer (a cancer fighter or survivor) with someone who has fought and survived the same type of cancer (a Mentor Angel). These one-on-one relationships give a cancer fighter or caregiver the chance to ask personal questions and get support from someone who has been there before. Mentor Angels can lend support and empathy and help cancer fighters and caregivers navigate the system, determine their options and create their own support systems. Imerman Angels was created on the belief that no one should have to fight cancer alone and without the necessary support. At 26 years old, Jonny Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer and began his fight against the disease. Throughout his experience, Jonny was lucky enough to have loving support from his family and friends but had never met anyone his age who was a cancer survivor. He wanted to talk to someone just like him, someone who truly understood, and was intimately familiar with his experience. In short, he was looking for someone who had already beaten the same type of cancer. This was the beginning of Jonny’s vision and in 2003, it became a reality when he founded Imerman Angels. Jonny was at the YSC breast cancer symposium on Saturday at Parkland, so I had a chance to meet him.
Then I learned this afternoon that the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence wants to do a phone interview with me tomorrow regarding their Domestic Violence & Brain Injury Project Coordinator position! YEAH! They are looking for someone with knowledge, skills and at least three years experience working with survivors of DV. Candidates also need knowledge of traumatic brain injury and experience working with individuals living with a brain injury. Also knowledge of root causes of violence against women and oppressed groups; experience coordinating partners for statewide committees; experience managing grants including report writing and successfully meeting required outcomes; experience with a coordinated community response to domestic violence; experience conducting a statewide needs assessment; and, a consistent employment history. The job is based in Tallahassee, Florida and requires extensive in-state and some national travel. Now doesn't that sound perfect for me?! So, first bad news, then good news and now hope for a somewhat "normal" life. So I need your positive thoughts, prayers and best wishes as well as an answer to my question!