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I am naive

My histochemical report came back. I am positive for HER2/neu. I had a very aggressive breast cancer. I want to cover my ears and go “nah-nah-nah- I can’t hear you. I don’t want to hear you.” but I can’t. My oncologist refered me to another oncologist for treatment.

Basically, my survival rate is 70% with just the mastectomy alone. If that isn’t scary enough, the fact that I had all that other additional stuff, the hematoma and staph infection means that the cancer had lots of opportunites to break free and go running through my body looking for another playground.  Heck, only 1 to 4 % of people who get breast cancer have pagets, and only 20% have the protein involvement. Viewed in that light, 70% sounds too close to 50% for me to take a chance. With this treatment I get bumped up to 90%. That sounds better.

I’ve decided that having cancer is like being an alcholic, it’s never over. I will be having tests forever and my life will be changed forever. The whole reconstuction trama that I was putting myself through was pointless. Starting Monday, I will be having chemo every three weeks for four months. In addition to the chemo I get therapy for the HER-2 but that goes on for a year.

I was feeling bitter and sarcastic when a friend mentioned the hair loss. “I can’t decide.” I said to her,” Will losing my hair distract people from my missing breast, or will my missing breast distract people from my baldness?” Now I feel like a brute for saying that to her. Good thing I have lots of experience crocheting chemo caps.

The ironic part is that once again, I am lucky, apparently testing for HER2 is not routinely done for DCIS, but my oncologist believes in doing it for every cancer. If I was NOB and dependent up a health insurance plan to make my treatment decisions for me based on solely financial considerations….do I really need to finish this sentence?

I was feeling pretty crummy yesterday, I am not jumping up and down today, but at least I have a plan. I have friends,I have my family, and I have Husband.



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!


  1. Dear Theresa,

    Wow. You have described yourself as stubborn. My personal opinion: Cancer does not have a chance of defeating you.

    Best wishes from a very chilly Oregon

    Ron y Kathy

    • Hi Ron and Kathy,
      I asked the doctor and the cancer is gone. What we’re doing is making sure it can’t get a new foothold or return. I have put out the the no rooms to rent sign. Sorry I wasn’t up to visiting when you were here.


  2. Dearest Theresa…The fact that you openly state how scared you are, is evidence of how brave you are. That may sound like a contradiction but it takes a lot of valor to admit feeling vulnerable and lost. Yet you carry on… I have always known you to be tenacious, and this is one of your many stellar traits that will see you through.

    Before your mastectomy, I remember you asking me what you should do with your blog while you were healing. I told you I thought this was the least of your concerns… “People will understand,” I said. But you have opted to share your experiences. Many would be uncomfortable writing about their very personal pain but you are open and honest about it. You inspire us all.

    I bet there are a lot other people dealing with your same type of cancer (or other ones) who draw strength by reading your posts. You are giving voice to them as well. And isn’t that what writers do?

    Your blog is called, “The DIY page for your life” and do you ever walk the talk. I admire you so much.

  3. Theresa,

    What rotten news! Feeling snarky, grumpy or being sarcastic is to be expected.

    You have a lot to face and to go through, but you will be fine in the end. All the best to you. My prayers continue…

    • Joanne,
      I have a feeling that the oncologist tried to tell me that this might happen, but I just couldn’t hear him. This whole thing has been hard on me but I think I am going to be okay.
      I believe that your prayers help me.

  4. Theresa, I know you are in shock and that’s understandable. Just don’t forget that statistics are just that. There is a spectrum and people are individuals. With your healthy lifestyle, good attitude, and social connections I believe your prognosis will be 100%. I hope you believe it, too.

    Also I know it seems never ending – that cancer will be with you endlessly. But I was diagnosed one year ago with ovarian cancer (Nov. 12) and am – just one year later – healthy, active, finished 6 chemos and the twenty shots in between each chemo, my hair fell out and my hair grew back. I look like your average healthy short haired lady now. In ONE YEAR! And aside from my 6 month checkups I can pretty much forget about it. It will go as fast for you, too.

    I believe what I went through was good for me. It really cemented my commitment to such a healthy lifestyle and made so many of my friendships and my marriage stronger. I am grateful for every day in a way that I didn’t understand before. And I’m not afraid of death, I just would like it to be a ways in the future!

    You are at the beginning of a journey that will be unique and life changing. All will be well.

    xoxo Nancy

    • Nancy,
      I know that statistic are just number manipulated to say whatever the statistician needs to say, I also know that in reality I am really lucky. However, as you point out, I am in shock However, I think I am coming out of it.

      Cangratulations on your cancer free anniversary. You look fabulous by the way. The new hairstyle suits you.

      Your advice is really good and I take it in the generous spirit that it is offered. Thank you for taking the time to write. It may take me awhile to digest, looking back I think my oncologist tried to prepare me for this eventuallity but I refused to listen. Maybe that was my brain protecting me, or me just being in denial. However, I am awake now and fighting.

      I do believe it all will be well and as a dear friend, who is also a cancer survivor told me, eventually you will be able to look back on this. I just need to live one day at at a time and move forward,


  5. Carol greenbaumjudd

    You are a star! Glad to see you are sharing this experience because there are many of us in this club. Check out the cloth hats on line as well. On today, Thanksgiving, I am thankful you are getting through this!

    • Hi Carol,
      With the help and support of all my friends like you, I know that this will be easier than it could have been.

      I will check out the hats. I love hats, maybe I need a bunch. It’s been cold enough for a sweater and leggings today, so a new hat would not be amiss, hair or no hair.

  6. I’ll second Jennifer’s comment. We’re all rooting for you. This news sucks, but then denial is not a particularly effective treatment plan. So kudos for facing this head-on. It sounds like you are in good hands, and those good hands will make sure everything possible is done. And don’t feel too bad about some grumpy times here and there. This is a lot to go through.

    Thanks for keeping us all posted. I really am wishing you the best.

    Kim G
    DF, México
    Until Monday.

    • Kim,
      It just sucks but then sometimes life just sucks. However it’s the only game in town, so count me in to play.
      I believe that everyone’s good vibes, prayers, and well wishes is helping me.


  7. Teresa, never forget that you’ve got your team rooting for you! Want me to send in a legion of the Caballeros Templarios from Michoacan to help you beat those cancer cells into submnission?

  8. Thanks for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us. I am so sorry you are having to go through all this, but I am so glad medical science has come so far. Good luck with all. Carol

    • Carol.
      The doctor who did my bone scan told me that cancer treatment has improved incrediably in the last five years. I have decided to adopt the attitude of the man who fell 30 stories. As he passed each window, he tipped his hat and yelled, “So good so far!”


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