Immediately after my breast cancer diagnosis in December 2010, I become stuck in the “Making-Medical-Appointments-Around-the-Holidays” mire. Unable to get in to see any physicians until early January, I have no choice but to get back on the train to nowhere. And so my husband and I decide not to tell anyone (aside from my two girlfriends) about my diagnosis. Friends and family will just ask lots of questions and we won’t have any answers. Better to wait until we know more. Besides, we don’t want to wreck everyone’s Christmas. Bad enough we have to wreck our own. We'll just keep it all a secret.
I had never spent a holiday on the Isle of Denial before. It wasn’t so bad; kind of like a honeymoon phase. I tell myself there will be plenty of time to deal with everything cancer-related soon enough. So I wrap presents and bake cookies and decorate the Christmas tree just like every year. But I’m not sleeping well. I get up at 3AM, listen for the rain and make Peppermint Pinwheels. Then I study the biomarkers in my pathology report, looking to make molehills out of mountains.
But what I oddly don’t do is any further research, which is not like me. My head seems firmly stuck in the sand. I don’t investigate the findings on my pathology report beyond what I already know to be true: I have IDC (invasive ductal carcinoma); it’s ER/PR+ 95% (estrogen and progesterone receptor positive, meaning the cancer is being fed by my hormones, so taking the premenopausal drug Tamoxifen will suppress this estrogen and interfere with it's ability to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells); I am HER-2 negative (good because HER-2 positive cancers tend to be more aggressive). And my Nottingham Score — a common tumor grading system — is 5 out of 9. These stats simply confirm what my Dr. S. has already told me: that my cancer is likely slow growing. So I really don’t think about “it” that much. I try to continue to forget “it.”
And I try to find some semblance of peace on the merry 'ole Isle of Denial.