This has been a roller coaster year for me – mostly ups but a few stomach turning downs.
We all remember some, if not all, of our childhood fears. There’s a monster in the closet, under the bed, the boogie man might come and get me.
When we are older there are other things that we fear but one of the biggest and scariest is facing death defying health issues.
On January 14, 2014 I went in for my yearly mammogram. I was a bit more nervous than usual because my younger sister, Sheri had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in late October 2013. My heart skipped a beat when I was recalled for a rescreening and then an ultra biopsy. That was on Monday, January 21 (just 7 days after the first mammogram). I asked when I might expect to hear the results. “In four or five days,” the tech told me, “but if you don’t hear by Friday, definitely call here so you don’t have to go through the weekend not knowing.”
The very next morning, my phone rang at exactly 8:31. A woman introduced herself as a coordinator from the Breast Cancer Care Center of Kaiser in Santa Rosa. I will always remember her next words, “I am very sorry to inform you. You have Breast Cancer.” Wow! Talk about the boogie man and a punch to the gut. Before I could even take in the concept, I was scheduled for an appointment the next day with the entire “Cancer Care Team” including the Radiation Oncologist, the Surgeon, the Chemical Oncologist, and the Plastic Surgeon.
My head was spinning.
The next day didn’t slow anything down. I was informed that the form of Breast Cancer I had was moving very quickly. I did not have an option for a lumpectomy, it was a Mastectomy that I needed. The doc came in intent on doing a double Mastectomy. I wasn’t so sure of that or anything else. All of the doctors stood and talked to me while I sat on that damn table feeling lost, confused, damaged, and completely vulnerable. I only had the disease in one breast, why take them both? My surgeon, an amazing and incredibly skilled woman, heard my question, my confusion, and my fear. Dr. Sauer pulled up a low stool, sat down so she was looking up at me and said, “We don’t have to do a Bilateral but if we just do one and you later develop Cancer in the other breast…they won’t match.” Got it!
I was scheduled for surgery on the 30th of January. They took my boobs before I even had a chance to wrap my head around the situation, before I had a chance to go through the first stage of grief, let alone all five of them as defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
And so it began. The very good news is that I am Cancer free and so is my sister. The unsettling news for both of us is that the treatment is ongoing. For her, five years of meds following radiation. For me, one more procedure to make me whole again – the bionic woman. A long fourteen months of spending way too much time with doctors, needing time to rest and heal, taking away time from the things I love to do…spending time with my family and friends, traveling, cooking, enjoying lovely wines, working with my colleagues on Shootouts, and working out at The Dailey Method in Santa Rosa.
I am back on track if a bit slow to get started. The 9th Cabernet Shootout is scheduled to begin with The Cabernet Challenge happening the last week of March. Wineries may register and submit wines now. The 13th Pinot Noir Shootout is also getting out of the gate with the Pinot Noir Summit scheduled for mid-May. Submit your wines here. Some new and exciting news to follow on the Summit shortly.
If you’d like more information on my Breast Cancer experience or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me