It’s been an…. interesting year.

Look around at cancer blogs and what do you often find?  A post one year out from diagnosis.  Well, today is my one-year post-diagnosis day.  And, like many many many people out there in cancer world, I’m not the same person I was one year ago.

So what’s happened in the last year?

I received my cancer diagnosis by telephone on 29 July 2011.  I had triple negative (this means estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and HER2 negative) infiltrating ductile carcinoma.  It was around 3.5 cm along its longest dimension.

I had an average of a medical appointment per day for the next few of weeks.  These included informational meetings, scans, blood draws, physical exams, and so on.

I was enrolled in a clinical trial called ISPY2.

I received 16 rounds of chemotherapy plus 12 weeks of a twice daily experimental drug.  I got stabbed an average of around four times a week.

I lost all of my hair.  ALL.OF.MY.HAIR (some hair loss is a little creepy).  I got foliculitis all over my head (NOT cool).

I had MRIs before, during, and after chemotherapy.

I had a bilateral mastectomy.  I have ten scars from procedures related to breast cancer, including the bilateral mastectomy, the needle biopsies, and the port placement.

I broke my hip and had hip pinning surgery.  I have just one scar from that procedure.

I was neutropenic and anemic.

I was TIRED.

I am permanently post-menopausal.

So, many of the above suck.  No doubt.  SUCK SUCK SUCK!

But, on the upside…

My family rules – Cheryl and Tre are incredible, and I’m lucky to have them both.  Cancer is hard on the family….  but we persevered.  In many ways, I think we are a stronger family now.

I learned that many of my friends are totally awesome.  I learned that some of my friends are not… But the former way out weigh the latter.

MNAngel is an amazing organization.  We participated in a weekly cancer workshop for families dealing with an adult with a cancer diagnosis.  We met some amazing people.  If you are living in the twin cities area and are parenting and have a cancer diagnosis, please consider checking them out.

My probability of recurrence-free survival is like 95% or so… Because I had the complete pathological response.  Without chemo, I’m not totally sure of the probability of recurrence, but it was somewhere in the neighborhood of like 60% or perhaps higher.

I had chemo BEFORE surgery.  This was good because we could track the tumor’s response to chemotherapy and know that the chemotherapy was working.  Also, we had time before surgery, which enabled us to feel confident of the surgical plan.

I won a couple of bike races, including Babes in Bikeland!  That was a major highlight.

I managed to teach my classes.

My colleagues were pretty much awesome.

I rode my bike every day during chemo, except for the few days of a conference I attended in Denver.

There’s more,  but these are the things that come to mind today.

Overall?  Life is good.  I love my family, my friends, my job, the people at my job….  and all of my bicycles.

WHOA – it’s been a crazy year!


About rleepenn

I'm a mom and a chemistry professor, and I love to ride bikes! On July 29th, 2011, I received the news that I have breast cancer. This is my blog....
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2 Responses to It’s been an…. interesting year.

  1. Lynne says:

    Lee, I’m sure many people have said this many times, but I am so happy for you. And yep, Cheryl and Tre are wonderful from what I learned through all your posts and photos. You are lucky, but you appreciate it-so maybe it’s not so much luck after all 😉

  2. emaillikeunderwear says:

    To countless more bike races, and to friends and family!

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