For the most part, I keep my private life private. I’m sure sometimes it doesn’t seem that way, but I’m very careful about what I share and who I share it with. That hasn’t been the case with cancer, though. When it comes to this, I share everything I can because I know I’m not alone in this journey and I hope that by sharing my experiences I can help somebody else either by raising awareness or help somebody going through it by letting them know that hey, I’m here. We’re in this together.
If you’re in my FB reader group, you already know I asked for prayers last week. I never do that. Anyway, prayers were said, positive thoughts were sent, and tests were done. One test turned into two. Two turned into three, and my final results say that I have breast cancer. AGAIN.
WHAT. THE. FUCK?
If you remember correctly, I had a double mastectomy in 2014 and went through chemo treatments and a billion reconstructive surgeries. I thought, as I’m sure a lot of you think, that once you have a double mastectomy you’re clear. Not the case.
According to my surgical oncologist, “people think that a bilateral mastectomy means that the cancer is completely gone. What they don’t realize is that there’s no way of ever taking everything out. Cells get left behind, as well as tissues.”
There’s nothing that tells us with 100% certainty that it was just cells left behind and not that the cancer came back on its own, but because of where this cancerous lump is in proximity to where the last one was, we think that was the case with me.
So, what now?
Well… the next steps are: getting a Petscan and MRI to clear me from any other cancers that may be lingering elsewhere. After the scans, the surgeon will go in and take another sample from the mass and place a wire in there so that it will make it easier for him to find during surgery. Then, I’ll go in for surgery so they can take out the lump and clean the area around it.
Once that’s done, I’ll go see a radiologist and my oncologist will tell me whether or not I’ll need chemo again. —> Please pray, chant, do a rain dance, and send positivity out into the world so that I don’t need either. It’s not that I don’t think I can handle it, but I really don’t want to put my kids through that again.
On a positive note, the lump is much smaller than it was last time, so I’m hoping that if (God willing) all of my scans come back clear, I’ll be able to move on from all of this after the surgery.
Not positive news, but not completely negative either.
As always, I thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and just your presence. I always say this, but I think cancer is one of those things where the patient always feels like they need to reassure their loved ones that they’re okay. I spend a lot more time worrying about my kids, my husband, my mom, my cousins, and you than I do about how I feel about it because I already know how I feel about it.
So, if you’re one of those people who need to know how I’m doing, I’ll tell you. I’m fine. Truly. I had a good cry when I heard the news yesterday. I had another good cry again last night as I thought about my kids and what this could mean for them, and today after my doctor’s appointment I felt more at peace with it all. Like I told a friend of mine yesterday, this is not where I end. This is not where I want to be right now, but I can’t change that. The only thing I can do is keep moving forward. And I will.
PS. I also want to say this: I had a LOT of issues getting these tests done. If I was anybody else, I would have given up and not gone back to the doctor and lived with this cancer without even knowing it was there. If you’re in that situation, please KEEP FIGHTING. KEEP GETTING CHECKED. KEEP CALLING FOR RESULTS. Your health care is your right and should be your priority. Take care of yourself. Don’t get discouraged. It’s not an easy journey, but nothing worth fighting for ever is, and YOU are worth every headache.
Maria Flores says
Hi Claire, I’ve read your Hearts series and fell in love with your writing. This is the first time I’ve gone to your website. So when I stumbled on to your cancer journey it was as if you were talking to me, in 2008 at the age of 33, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I was also told I carried the BRAC 1 gene. My survival rate was ok but it was the possibility of a reocurance within a few years that was breaking my spirit.
I am now almost celebrating my 10-year remission anniversary. I have since been the Chair for the Patient and Family Advisory Council at City of Hope. I also represent the patient voice on 2 other national cancer committees as well as being a patient speaker at COH. Your blog last post about the cancer was in 2016, I believe. So I am hoping you have recovered.
Thank you such formsharing.
Claire Contreras says
Thank you so much for writing to me. I’m so glad you’re doing well. 10-year remission is amazing! 2016 was my last bout with cancer and I’m hoping I’ll be celebrating a 10 year remission anniversary in 2026 and have no issues between now and then. My percentage for reoccurrence was actually very low, which was why it was such a shock when mine came back two years after the original diagnosis. I’m on tamoxifen and feel great now, so I hope that’s a good sign.
That’s amazing that you’re so involved. I love that!