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Accepting my diagnosis of breast cancer

Everything happened so fast, not even a week after I saw Dr Carla to when I had my biopsy. Looking back at my notes, I see that there was a period of about five days after the biopsy that I didn’t do anything. That is because I was waiting for the results from the pathologist. I fully expected him to tell me that it wasn’t DCIS and only calcifications. My brain shut off as the Dr Sanchez explained that the cells were definitely DCIS and I had cancerous cells in the margins too.  He assured me that DCIS is 100% curable with surgery.

I decided at that moment that I would have a tram flap reconstruction immediately after my surgery. The first of my expectations that had to go.  Doctor Sanchez said that he didn’t recommend it being done that way. I asked for a second opinion from another pathologist. Two days later, I dropped off my slides and paraffin blocks at Dr Bolio’s lab. He is one of the top pathologists in Merida. I was sure he would  come to another conclusion.

Meanwhile, I went for a chest x-ray and an abdominal ultrasound to rule out any problems in those regions. After stopping for brunch, I went from imaging to an appointment with an oncologist. One of my friends in the IWC is an administrator in the Centro Anticanceroso de la Cruz Roja Mexicana, she got me an interview that same afternoon with Dra Ada who is the assistant to Dr Ceballos,the number one oncologist in Merida. Which means he is probably the number one oncologist in Southern Mexico and most of Central America. Merida is the medical hub for Southern Mexico, Belize, and Costa Rica, the only place better is Mexico City, I believe Guadalajara’s medical care is tied with Merida.

Dra Ada made me an appointment for the next day with Dr Ceballos. Coincidently, I was able to pick up my pathology report that morning along with my x-rays and ultrasound results. I already knew that my abdominal ultrasound was fine because the Doctor administering it told me.

My pathology report made me cry. Not only did he confirm the DCIS, Dr Bolio felt that the quality of the slides was such that I really needed another test to confirm if margins were DCIS or another cancer. Another expectation shot down.

Dr Ceballos examined my incision, he was concerned about how I was healing, he gave me a script for  an anti inflammatory  and told me to use ice. Also he sent me out for a bone scan. He assured me that while I would need surgery and we needed to proceed in a timely manner, we did have time to deal with things like inflammation prior to surgery. I still thought that I would be having my surgery soon.

My bone scan came out negative but a second ultrasound of my breast revealed that I had a hematoma. Fortunately, I had an appointment that afternoon with my plastic surgeon to discuss reconstruction. He needle aspirated about 100 ml or half a cup of blood out of my breast. He had me drop off some blood at the lab to be cultured. Turns out that I had a staph infection  along with the hematoma.

So instead of going into surgery three weeks ago, I have waited a month, so I am ready to be done with this part. A third ultrasound shows that the hematoma is better, my body is absorbing the blood and the staph infection is gone. I know that I am incredibly lucky and it’s all out of my control now. I can’t even begin to think about reconstruction until after my pathology report comes back.

quilted-bed-jacket

Quilted bed jacket

I have accepted that my body will never be the same again, but then again I don’t have the same body that I had when I was a teenager causing industrial accidents either. I am working on things that I do have control over, for example I decided that I needed a bed jacket. So yesterday I made one.

Yes, I know baggy knit shorts and taking a photo in a mirror are not optimal. I was going to take another shot but this one cracked me up. It made me think of the white light that Rainie sent my way. The jacket looks suspiciously like an old bedspread because I bought the double faced quilted fabric in the home dec department.

I used this free vintage pattern, the Cropped Jacket  though I thought about using this one  from Sentimental Baby which is similar.Instead of chalking my pattern directly on the fabric I made a paper pattern. The back is made using a 30 inch bust measurement and the front with a 38, I eased the difference in at the shoulders.  I considered putting darts in the shoulders but decided that they would be too bulky.

cropped-quilt-jacket

A better photo of the quilted bed jacket

I want to thank everyone who wrote me such lovely and encouraging comments on my last post. Normally, I answer every comment, but I am just so overwhelmed right now that I just can’t. Please know that I appreciate everyone’s good thoughts and am especially grateful to all you cancer survivors who have shared your own stories with me.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!

9 comments

  1. Theresa – I’m a long time lurker on your blog. I’m sorry to read of your diagnosis. Best wishes on a successful operation and speedy recovery! I’ll be thinking about you.

  2. Good thoughts/vibrations, along with a couple of swift prayers for your speedy, and total recovery being sent your way…

  3. Hi Theresa,

    I am so glad you are writing about your journey – the support and friendship and positive stories were tremendously helpful to me as I went through my recent event. You sound good and of course the care you are getting is first class. One of the things Paul said to me several times when I needed a boost was “you can do this!” and of course he was right. You can do this, Theresa. I am here for you as are so many others. xoxo

  4. Wow! I’m so sorry to hear this. But I have high confidence you’ll come through with flying colors. I’m sure you’ve read Nancy’s experience over at countdowntomexico.com.

    Just take it one day at a time, and you’ll make it through.

    Abrazos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA

  5. I had never heard of a bed jacket, and now this is the second time I’m hearing of one in two days. Lucille Ball’s daughter is auctioning off her mother’s personal effects because she’s moving from Wilton, Connecticut to Palm Springs. She got about $8,000 for her mom’s bed jacket. She says Lucy wore hers well past the point they were in fashion, and I think they look very smart! Wear it in good health, which I know you’re headed toward! Hugs.

  6. Wonderful to hear that the Staph infection has cleared up. I will be thinking of you tomorrow and saying a few prayers.

  7. Scary stuff my friend. You know I’ll be thinking of you every day until you are well.

  8. A bed jacket… what a great idea. They are an “old fashioned” item but I know you’ll love yours. They are so practical and cozy. As you read this, loving thoughts are coming your way from so many people, near and far. They are meant to cuddle you… just like your bed jacket.

  9. Theresa-you can do this! No one starts out thinking they’re strong enough or brave enough…I certainly didn’t…but we’re all fighters at heart, and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Listen to your doctors, listen to your instincts too, and smile when you feel like crying, cry when you have to, and go easy on yourself. You are beautiful and smart and cancer can’t take that away from you. All of my best thoughts and positive vibes from across the continent!

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