About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A fish out of water

I had another doctor's appointment this morning.  This time, it was with the gynecologist.  Dr. P referred me for what I thought was a routine GYN exam.  It had been about 2 years since I had a pap test, so I was okay with the referral. Might as well screen for cervical cancer while I'm fighting breast cancer, right?  

The OB/GYN department is a place full of excitement and expectancy.  Pregnant ladies sit in the lobby massaging their bellies. Mom and Dads to be sit there waiting to hear the latest about their baby's growth. Everyone is happy and anxious.  

Then I walk in.  

It's my "tired" day (day 4).  I knew I would be tired, but who needs to be peppy for a pap test, right?  I walk in with my black scarf covered bald head into this place of warm fuzzies and hopeful expectation.

I was definitely a fish out of water.  Whenever I walk into the room in my cancer patient look, I get stares.  I'm used to it. I didn't hide my condition today. This is life.   At least mine.  I know others in the room at seeing me feared that one day it could be theirs as well.  

Fortunately, I was called in pretty quickly.  But even felt like a odd ball with the nurse, who is used to checking pregnant ladies weight and having them pee on sticks.  (By the way, the scale in that department is definitely off!) When we went into an exam room, she checked out my medical record, which goes on and on and on.  She asked me what medications I was on.  I had to laugh out loud.  I told her, whatever it says on the chart is accurate. We just went over it on Friday when I had chemo.  She asked if I was going to need a pap. I told her yes, since it had been a few years.  She told me to undress from the waist down, since my oncologist was the one monitoring my breast exams.  I thought to myself...what breasts?   It was okay with me.  I didn't need to have another medical person tell me how "good" my scars looked. 

The doctor came in and asked about my irregular periods. I explained how since my diagnosis in June I had been irregular, which I chalked up to stress.  But then last month was strange with a few days of spotting and then a week of heavy flow.  She said we should do a uterine biopsy to rule out any uterine cancer, since heavy bleeding is a sign of uterine cancer. She asked if I had had any vaginal births. Sure, I told her I had two.  She said the biopsy would take about 15 seconds, but could be uncomfortable.  Alright, bring it on, I thought.  

She did the pap first, which I didn't even feel.  As she started the biopsy, she asked me about my births. Well that will get me talking! We talked about VBAC and before I knew it she was done. I didn't feel a thing.  I got dressed and was shown to her office. 

From what she saw in my uterus, she did not think I would test positive for uterine cancer. There was not a lot of extra tissue there, which she said can indicate abnormal tissue. I'm not that worried about it, but I'm glad to have a baseline, especially since I expect to be on tamoxifen in the future and that may be lined to uterine cancer. Lovely, huh? To avoid a recurrence of breast cancer, you may increase the risk of uterine cancer. 

I asked if there was any screening test for ovarian cancer. If so, we might as well check that out as well.  She said there wasn't any really good test for that. Later on, depending on whether or not my periods returned after chemo, we may want to either remove them or permanently stop my periods with medication in order to decrease the chance of ovarian cancer. By that point, I wasn't really listening all that carefully.  It is my foggiest day, and I heard her say lets take care of the breast cancer first and then we'll deal with any other issues.  Besides, the chemo drugs I am on are very likely blasting my ovaries as well. If there are any cancerous cells there, they are getting zapped.  

Frankly, I'm at the point where I'd be fine with having my ovaries and uterus just taken out.  What's the point, anyway?   Maybe its the chemo talking.  But at least I wouldn't be worrying about other cancers. 

Today has been a hard one and I've been feeling a little sorry for myself.  Ever since the biopsy, I've been a little sore and spotting. I'm tired, and just wish I could fast forward a few days.  I know tomorrow will be better.  It had better be...it's my birthday.  But even without that, I usually start to trend upward after day 4. 

My prayer requests:
  • That the biopsy comes back as normal.
  • That I bounce back tomorrow. It's my birthday after all.  I don't want to be depressed and gloomy. 
  • That I be able to "deal" with stuff.  I have lost that ability today.  I must be emitting stress vibes because it seems to be making Jean-Marc more fussy and difficult than normal. I need to be able to be patient and chill.  I don't like feeling the way I do today.  
  • That my energy level comes back tomorrow.


  1. Allow yourself an off day once in a while. Don't hold yourself up to a standard of perfect cancer survivor-ness, yk? stomp and whine for a bit and tomorrow will be a new day.


  2. Hope all is fine w/ biopsy! I always felt the fish out of water thing most intensely at the gynos, too. It's all so hopeful & happy.
    Today will be different - hopefully a little better - but at least different.