Thursday, January 29, 2009

do you have a breast coordinator?

By now just about every woman who has had breast cancer who knows me has contacted me to give me support. I'm surprised there were so many and I'm so amazed at their stories and support. For the sake of their privacy, I won't mention their names here. But you know who you are and how much I appreciate you. I almost feel embarrassed to give them the details. All of them had much more serious conditions than I had and all had more aggressive treatments. I start to tell them I have "baby cancer" since mine was caught so early. That doesn't sell. "Cancer is cancer and this will change you." The best advise I received was "Surround yourself with people that make you feel good. Even if you can't explain why they make you feel good. Then, walk away from everyone that makes you feel depressed or negative. Don't ask yourself why. Go with what you feel from a person and just do it." That advice put everything in perspective for me and worked every single time. Thank you Mary. You are one of the wisest women I know.

Next stop - a visit to the hospital breast care clinic to meet my health care team. I take the advice of one friend and bring along a woman friend who has survived cancer to listen, ask questions and take notes. So... my husband Jim and my friend Peg meet for the first time and off to the clinic we go. They're about to bond but they don't know it yet.

We're in a room with a nurse who explains quite a few things to us. She tells me to get undressed and that she is going to return with my breast coordinator.

Peg - "Breast coordinator? Well!" doing an excellent fake "well aren't you special" body language wiggle. "I didn't have a breast coordinator. What does a breast coordinator do?"

Jim - "Well Peg, they come in pairs you know. So they have to stay coordinated." I look down at my naked breasts and find myself thinking "No wonder I can't find a bra that fits right. One is bigger than the other. It's all due to the lack of a breast coordinator in my life."

All three of us are laughing so hard we're almost on the floor - which of course is when the nurse returns with the rest of the team. Needless to say, they didn't expect to find the three of us laughing our derriere's off. We tried to explain but they didn't get it.

Peg does an amazing job. She asks great questions, takes notes, TYPES them up and gives them to me. My god. A personal cancer assistant. She was fantastic and I love her for all her support.

My lumpectomy gets scheduled for April 3rd, I'm given the Big Cancer Book and a gazillion business cards and phone numbers and they send me home. The surgery is about a month away. But don't worry, we'll fast forward soon.

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