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Going on a medical leave of absence

I have a doctor’s note and everything!

Writting a blog is an interesting experience, I have made many friends through this medium and grown as a writer. I have around 3000 regular readers, in the blogosphere is a drop in bucket, but which I am so grateful for. I debate how much is oversharing and how much to keep back. It’s a fine line.  Rather than just not post for awhile and leave you all wondering what happened. Here it is, the short version is: On October 8th I went in for a surgical breast biopsy and I have DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) in my right breast. The good news is that it’s 100% curable by surgery. The bad news is that means on Wednesday, they are going to remove my right breast.

It totally sucks. I have cried and I’m crying right now. However, as cancer goes, this is pretty straightforward. I will be in the hospital for two days and more or less housebound for two weeks. My breast reconstruction date hasn’t been set since we have to wait for the pathology report to come back negative before we can start.

You may want to grab a cup of coffee now, because here is the long version:

On Tuesday, October 1st, I noticed that I had some blood on my right arm. Thinking it was from a mosquito bite, I searched and discovered some more on my breast. I brushed it off and didn’t think about it until the next day when I was in the shower and found more blood and realized that my nipple was bleeding. As you all know, I don’t go to doctors if I can help it, so it’s a measure of my concern that I immediately  called a few friends asking for a recommendation of a good OB-GYN. Since we are self insured, I simply called the doctor’s office and went to see her that evening.

Doctora Carla Ruz examined me. She reassured me that while the bleeding is not a normal thing, it was most likelya benign condition called  an intraductal papiloma. However, since I hadn’t had a mamogram in 10 years, she thought I should have one and an ultrasound too.  Normally, I don’t go to Star Medica, but it was more convenient since her office is there.October is breast cancer awareness month, that particular irony is not lost on me, the lab had a special package deal on a combo mamogram and ultrasound.  I had my tests on Thursday morning and picked up my results on Friday.

While waiting for Dra Carla, she was attending a birth,I snuck a look at my results. The doctor interperting my scans  circled several spots the size of my thumbnail that she felt were susupicious.  My heart felt like lead when I read.” Grade four, a biopsy is recommended.”  DrCarla was as shocked as we were. She immediately refered me to Dr Gabriel Sanchez, since it was after 8pm, she gave me his cell phone number.

Dr Sanchez listened to me explain my situation. After about my second sentence, I discovered that I had lost my ability to speak Spanish, but Dr Sanchez speaks English. He told me to come to his office at CEM (Centro de Especiales Medicas del Sureste)  and bring my studies the next day at 1 pm.

On Saturday, Husband I left the house with plenty of time and decided to take the Reforma bus and walk to CEM, a pleasant walk. We arrived about half an hour early. As I stood at the desk checking in with Nancy, his receptionist, I realized that my scans were still sitting on the dining room table. Nancy confided that the doctor was running late due to an operation taking longer than planned so I had plenty of time to head home and return.

As we walked across the street to the Hyatt, a FUTV taxi came by. Normally, I prefer a metered taxi, however, I was just happy to snag a taxi, especially midday on a Saturday. We negotiabled a fare of 95 peos for him to take us home and back. I didn’t even quibble or mention that the price should have been closer to $60mxn. The taxista  fancied himself a grand prix driver, we joked that while our destination was CEM it wasn’t  their emergency room. The  45 minute round trip was completed in a breath taking 30. We staggered out of the cab and headed up to the waiting room.

Dr. Sanchez looked at my scans while I changed into the standard hospital gown. I perked up as I overheard him tell Husband,” Those spots are benign, I wouldn’t worry about them”. My relief was short lived as he continued,” However, see these tiny spots. I don’t like them one bit.” At this point, Husband made a comment, which you are also probably thinking, regarding my policy of  one mamogram a decade. Dr Sanchez disagreed, he said that those spots were so small and so recent, that they might not even be a month old.

Due to the tiny size and the way the cells were spread out, a needle biopsy was ruled out. The soonest that I could have my surgical biopsy was in three days at CMA (el Centro Médico de las Américas). Meanwhile, I also had to have some bloodwork done. Except for the tiny detail that I have cancer, my blood work came back that I am exceptionally healthy. Even my breast tumor cancer markers are low, I have a score of 20, which is in the normal range.  All through this process, I was certain that they would tell me that it’s a mistake. I shouldn’t have cancer. I am really healthy, I don’t eat sugar, grains, or much dairy. There is no history of breast cancer in my family.


The lotus blossom is a symbol of detachment- photo courtesy of Wikipedia

As a Buddhist, I realize that I have many lessons to learn on this earth. The one that I am learning now, is that I have to let go of my attachment to specific outcomes. Every step in this journey, I have decided that I knew the answers and how things would go, every single time I have been wrong. It’s been a hard lesson to learn, this giving up of control and I admit to fighting it. I will probably always have to work on detachment, but I have made some strides in that direction.


This is all I can write for now. I will continue later.

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. Theresa, this makes me so sad but I do know that you will be back in fine form very shortly. Take the time you need.

  2. Dearest Theresa, I know how difficult it was for you to write this post and I commend you for doing so. Even while staring surgery in the eye, you are brave and generous. You are a petite woman with a HUGE heart. And you are so smart, you know that right now, there’s nothing to do but hunker down… Be sure that you have many of us squatting on our haunches beside you.

  3. I am a two time survivor – at 27 and 55. I am now 63 and have been cancer free (again) since January of 2006. You can and will do this. Don’t mistake the wrapping for the gift. I will hold you in my prayers. Blessings to you on this journey.

  4. You are in my prayers. Good grief! Breast cancer for you; a heart attack for me. The blog squad is falling apart. But we will both hang in there together. After all, who will create those awful puns together. Quatro cinco, indeed.

  5. Best wishes and big hugs for you as you go through this.
    My sister had breast cancer several years ago and is a survivor.

  6. Theresa,

    Fortunately I’ve been blessed. No one in my family has never had to deal with cancer so I have no way of knowing the thoughts you must be feeling.

    I do know however, that you are not a woman to be trifled with! You will be back on your feet in no time. Remember there are many people sending all good things your way.

    Heal quickly and stay strong.

  7. Just wanted to say Good Luck, Theresa. I have a friend going thru the same fight in Bucerias at the moment – she had to go to Guadalaha for her final journey in the road to recovery! She is doing well and fighting the good fight! I so totally enjoy your blog and your comments on YoListo and wish you all the best in your fight with the monster(C)!! As I tell my friend Tracy – go kick it’s ass! And your story is a reminder to all of us to be self aware!

  8. Theresa
    Just want to say how much I admire your willingness to share your story. Best wishes for a safe and successful surgery. Roger and I are sending prayers, white light and twinkles.

  9. In 2007 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the third diagnosed sister of 5 with no previous history of breast cancer in my family.(since than two first cousins have also had breast cancer. I had a lumpectamy and than radiation. No chemo as my octotype test was a 10 out of 100… However the radiation was a bitch and I walked around with radiation burns and still have the discoloration today. I can feel your pain. It’s so hard to share this medical condition but my prayers will be with you each day. I am now 5 years cancer free and in 5 years I want to hear you say that!

    • The only treatment that I have to undergo is the mastectomy as long as my pathology report comes back negative. The surgical biopsy was basically a lumpectomy. It’s the waiting that is so hard. Thank you for sharing your experience and I am looking forward to celebrating your ten and my five year anniversary together.


  10. I am sorry you have to go through this; but I am also sure that you will come out of it just fine. I have no doubts in my mind about that.
    My thoughts are with you, take care and get well fast.

    • Brenda,
      I fully expect my pathology report to come back negative on the lymph nodes, I also realize that I won’t spring back as quickly as I would like. I appreciate everyone’s good wishes.

  11. I wish you the very best. Several of my friends have been through this and have come out the other side just fine and are living full and happy lives. You will too.

  12. Sending positive energy your way! Yes, it is terrible and frightening and much to worry about, but life returns to normal after DCIS, I can assure you. (Diagnosed December 2000, age 43.)

  13. I am very grateful to be where I am. If I was NOB, I doubt that I could even think about affording the kind of care that I am getting here. There is more to this tale, and I will finish writing either tonight or tomorrow before I go in for my surgery.

  14. Theresa,

    Warm and healing thoughts and prayers are already headed your way. I’ve recently had my own brush with concerning medical conditions and can sympathize. However, the facilities and doctors you’re using are great and medical care in Merida, as I’ve found out more than once, is right up there with the best in the USA.

    I was just looking at your blog when your update popped in. We’re so glad everything was caught early and just know you’ll recover well. All the best!

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