Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Since we've already left the tour for last week's sad news about Mike Meador, I'll just go ahead and use this opportunity to tell you another story about why you can never take anything for granted.

Shortly after returning from our British Isles vacation this year, I spent a week going around to all the various annual health check-ups I do at least once a year —general check-up, dental, ob/gyn, annual mammogram, vision. All the usual routine boring stuff . . . except for that spot on the mammogram. If you've been paying attention in October, you might already know that 80% of these spots turn out to be nothing. This year, I found myself in the 20% that are cancer. The big C. The club I never wanted to join. Stunned is the only way I can describe it.
No family history, no hormone therapy, I was sure I was exempt.

After surgery to remove the lump came some good news: it was very small, and it had not spread to the lymph nodes. I'm healing from the surgery and, every day this week, I am having follow-up internal radiation therapy twice a day at the hospital. I come home between treatments each day and do lite versions of my usual daily activities. By Friday, the device that delivers the radiation will be removed after my last treatment and I will be done with the hard stuff. The return rate on this type of breast cancer is very small.

My surgery was done on September 30, one day before the start of breast cancer awareness month. I know, it's a lot of pink ribbons and heavy merchandising all month, but if you take nothing else away from the campaign, ladies, please get those annual mammograms. My spot wasn't there last year. If I had waited two years between mammograms, I don't think my outcome would have been nearly as positive as it has been.

So that's my story. At the end of this week, when the last treatment is done and the device comes out, I'm tossing my apron in the car, picking up my friend Leslie in Valparaiso, and heading out to make marbled papers with Galen Berry at Hollanders, something I've wanted to do for years. More details to come!


  1. Pam,

    So glad to hear of the good outcome from this scare. I had a lump removed 10 years ago and I was one of the lucky 80%, but I still have my yearly mamm.

    I'm taking a bookbinding class at Hollander's on November 7. When is your papermaking going to be happening?


  2. Thankyou for being a) brave in sharing with strangers(like me!) and b) so positive.
    I wish you continued good health.

    Oh, I should say I've been following your blog for quite a while. Lurking, I think!

  3. "Congratulations" doesn't seem quite right (especially since I've never before left a comment on your blog). Just...I'm glad to hear it's turned out this way. Wishing you continued good health.

  4. What an inspiring outcome. Early detection and taken care of so quickly. Thanks for spreading the word about how important yearly mammos are.
    Enjoy the marbling - what fun!

  5. Vicki --
    I'll be taking the paper marbling class on October 30-31.
    Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes and support.
    It means the world to me.

  6. I hope that your path to full recovery is quick and smooth. Big hugs...

  7. Pam, this is a wake-up call for all of us. I'm so relieved to hear your outcome has been positive. Take care!

  8. Thank you for sharing your story. Your seemly acceptance of your situation and practical approach to moving through the ordeal is inspiring. You're gonna LOVE marbling with Galen. His workshops are wonderful and just the ticket for recovering from what you've just experienced.

  9. Dear Pam - As "Anonymous" said, thank you for sharing your story. I am writing this on the day of your much-anticipated workshop, and I think the timing is wonderful. You are an incredible person, and I am grateful I was given the opportunity to meet and work with you a little. You reawakened a long-dormant creative spirit in me, and I will never forget that. Enjoy life! Chris

  10. Thank you , Pam. I was sliding and not being attentive to my mammogram appointment. Your sharing caught my attention. Have an appointment next week. Thank you!!!

  11. Nothing like losing a friend to make us appreciate life. Glad to hear about your good outcome and positive attitude. Congratulations!

  12. Pam - I was just catching up with my blog reading and I read about your breast cancer diagnosis. I hope you are well on the way to recovery. My mother also had a similar diagnosis at 72. She is now 12 years cancer free. Hers was also caught very early. I will be thinking about you. Jolene

  13. Dear Pam - I was just catching up with my blog reading and I saw your post about your cancer diagnosis. I am hoping that you are well on the road to recovery at this point. My mother had a similar diagnosis at 72. She is now 12 years cancer free. I am thinking about you and sending good vibes your way. Jolene

  14. Hi Sweetie
    You are the 2nd person this week that I know that got breast cancer. I'm sooooooooooooo glad you caught it early. I can only imagine what a big deal this has been for you. Will keep you in my prayers for a speedy recovery.