Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hello everyone.  Normally, this is my day to give you a guest blogger but being the procrastinator that I am, I didn’t have anyone lined up in time.  Soooo … since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I’m basically a poster child for that particular disease, I decided to be my own guest blogger.  Feeling a tad narcissistic here, but I’m happy to give you a run down on breast cancer.  I’m also willing to answer any questions you have — no matter how personal.  So, here goes …

So Liz … when were you diagnosed with breast cancer and how did you find it?

May of 1996.  Can’t tell you the exact day, but that’s close enough.  Funny thing is, I didn’t feel a “lump” like they tell you to watch for.  I was 35 years old.  Why the hell would I even be looking for something like that?  No, what I noticed was a dimple in my right breast, about three inches above the nipple.  Didn’t really think anything of it at the time, but since I had an appointment for a routine checkup the next week, mentioned it to my doctor.  She was all over it.  Ordered a mammogram (which is always a treat), and when that didn’t show anything, ordered a needle biopsy … also a treat.  The results were inconclusive, so a CT was done.  Yep … they found a mass.  Deep enough that it was actually pulling the skin, which caused the dimple.  Go figure.

Damn, that sucks.  What came next?

The usual.  Since it was so deep, a mastectomy was done.  I went a year without a breast before I had reconstruction done.  I could have had the mastectomy and reconstruction done at the same time, but being the weirdo that I am, I wanted to know what it was like to be with one breast … and because I wanted to be fully healed before undergoing the reconstruction.  After that, I had a series of mild chemo cocktails.  My weekly appointments became monthly, which in turn become every three months.  When a cancer patient hits the once a year oncologist appointment, you’re pretty much golden.

When did the cancer return?

Seven years later … almost to the month.  Which really pissed me off.  Used to be that if you hit the seven year mark, you’re considered “cured”.  A myth, as I found out.  Once you have cancer, you’re never really cured.  You’re just clean.  You gotta be vigilant and never let your guard down.  My cancer metastasized to my hip, my spine and my liver.  In other words … it returned with a vengence.

Again, that really sucks, Liz.  What has happened since?

Well, I’ve been pretty much on chemo for the last ten years.  Nearly constant.  I’ve gone through so many different chemo cocktails that would work for awhile and then stop that I’m now recycling a lot of stuff I’d been on previously with the hope that this time around it’ll be effective.

I’ve got neuropathy in my fingertips and feet, fatigue up the yin-yang, lost my hair four times, only tossed my cookies once, but never lost my sense of humor.  For anyone going through this, attitude is incredibly important.  You have to have an optimistic outlook.  Sure, I’ve had my moments, but as my sister-in-law, who is also a cancer survivor, says “You have twenty minutes to feel sorry for yourself and then get over it.”  It’s a credo I’ve pretty much lived by.  As you can see by the photo taken at a party during the RT writer’s conference, I try to have fun when I have no hair.

Do you feel optimistic about beating this?

Beat it?  No.  I’m stage four and well aware that the game my oncologist and I are playing is “Let’s see how long we can keep Liz around.”  I’m very pragmatic about my condition but I’ve got too much to do to let this sh*t stop or slow me down.  I have a daughter to raise, a family I love, a job I enjoy, and a writing career that I’m trying to develop.  Who’s got time for cancer?  I do what I gotta go and move on.  There are days when I feel like crap, and days when I feel okay.  I’m well aware that I’ll never be “cured” and I’m at the point where I accept that.

So, that’s my story.  If you know of anyone who has breast cancer … a mom, a grandmother (hell even a grandfather), sister, friend, whoever … go give them a hug and a big, sloppy kiss.  They can probably use it.

Any questions?  Feel free to ask.

About Liz Kreger

Liz Kreger writes science fiction/romances and to date, has two books published by Samhain Publishing ... FORGET ABOUT TOMORROW and PROMISE FOR TOMORROW. Liz is presently branching out to contemporary paranormals and is experimenting with urban fantasy.
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24 Responses to Breast Cancer Awareness Month

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Liz, I wish I could give you that hug and big, sloppy kiss right now.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about a cure. My hope is that someone will develop a cure using cells. Stem cells, designer cells, whatever. Let all these new healthy and strong cells kick the butt out of the cancer cells. I just googled and there does seem promise. It’s possible it might cure you after all. I’m hoping!

  2. Liz,

    I’ve always appreciated and admired your guts and warrior spirit clothed in witty humor. However, I never heard “the whole story” though I suspect you’ve left out parts. I’ve had 4 very close friends who lost that battle and actually quite quickly despite how hard they fought against it. Which is why I also admire you’re longevity.

    I know now why I’ve kept fighting through all the health issues and family issues I’ve endured. Your example has been one of my models to follow. I hold you and yours in my prayers.
    Casey Clifford`s last blog was …Glacial Adventure

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Thanx, Casey. I’ve had people tell me that they admire my spirit and determination. To me … this is just me. I can’t envision handling it any other way. We all have a role model. I think I mentioned in the past that my role model is my younger sister who has suffered from chronic arthritic since she was eight years old. Nary a complaint throughout the years … at least not within my hearing. Like everyone, I’m sure she’s had her moments.

      Yeah, a lot is left out of this interview. There is occasional pain, hope, lots of disappointment and fear. I figure I’ve lasted seventeen years and plan on another twenty years. I put it down to being more of a tenacious bitch than anything. 😈

  3. Liz Kreger says:

    This is where I admit to being a total cynic, Edie. As long as the pharmaceutical companies are making millions on chemo drugs, I truly believe there will never be a concerted effort to find a cure. Why kill the goose that lays the golden egg? See? Total cynic. 😯

    Smaller foundations or colleges? There’s hope from that direction. Far more dedication, which is why our anthology, Entangled, has all its proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I have more faith in their finding a cure than any high dollar drug company.

    I just don’t anticipate that happening during my lifetime. I can only hope that future generations will never have to go through what I’ve gone through.

    Oh, and I’ll take those hugs and kisses anyday. 😆

    • Edie Ramer says:

      Liz, I agree totally about the drug companies. But there are people working on this with cells, and I still have hope one is developed in time to heal you. Or at least that you could be part of their study. 🙂

  4. Misty Evans says:

    Liz, you rock. You keep giving it hell, my dear, and I’ll keep cheering you on. I love that you interviewed yourself! It was good to hear your story and remind others struggling with all types of health issues that you can and do make a difference every day to family and friends by doing what you can do and never giving up. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Always willing to talk about myself, Misty. 😉 A lot of cancer patients tend to downplay things, not wanting to burden family and friends. This could be a mistake. Makes you look like superwoman when you’re really not. I’m totally guilty of this. Did it for years. So now, when I feel the fatigue and the generally crappiness, its hard to take it easy. I gotta learn to baby myself ‘pon occasion.

  5. CateS says:

    Thanks for sharing… My MIL is still surviving after 10 years of a diagnosis of lung cancer… 2 different forms… It’s active again and there’s only a really crappy treatment that she turned down because of the quality of life involved.. that was over a year ago… she’s had her gallbladder out 6 weeks ago and a hip replacement about 18 months ago…
    And we all know that there’s no one left in the world who hasn’t had a family member deal with this stuff…
    Cheers for you and your plan for the next 20 years…!!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Bravo to your MIL for surviving this for ten years, Cate. That’s an accomplishment.

      I remember talking to someone at the clinic … oh, years ago. She said that once someone has had a fifth recurrence, they may as well give it up. She’s never heard of anyone living much past a fifth recurrence. Well, that didn’t help me feelin’ better when I hit my fifth recurrence. Then again, at this point I couldn’t even tell you how many recurrences I’ve had. I think I’m on my twelth or thirteenth. Lost track a long time ago.

      So there are exceptions in every case. 😎 Incidently, my MIL was diagnosed over 50 years ago and is still going strong.

  6. Amy Remus says:

    Liz, you remind me in your blog posts that it is all about you handle what life throws at you. My mother-in-law finally lost her battle this past Friday after 16+ years of fighting what started out as breast cancer. My MIL always taught us that it is okay to feel your emotions of being sad, fearful, etc, but you deal with them and then take life by the horns and make the best of it. She did that with her kids and grandkids. She also helped my own mother through her lung cancer surgery, chemo and radiation. My mom is the opposite and wanted to throw in the towel after hearing the news. I can’t imagine what she felt but am glad my MIL was there to offer encouragement and hope to my mom. While I know my mom appreciated our support and encouragement we haven’t been through it and my MIL had. I am thankful for people like my MIL and you, Liz, who are willing to be open about what is going on with you and for those that have questions. I know my MIL touched so many lives of the people just by talking to them and giving them hope to make it another day. Most of it was just in her everyday actions and outlook on life. Thanks for the post today. You will be in my prayers as well!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Well, crap, Amy. You got me in tears. So sorry to hear that your MIL lost her battle. She sounds like one hellava woman and exactly the type of woman to help your mom. You’re right. You can give all the support and sympathy you can, but until you’ve walked that road, you really don’t understand. I didn’t when my SIL was diagnosed five years before me. Like your MIL, she was there for me when I was diagnosed. She knew what I could expect even though at that time I was clueless.

      I’m glad your mom found the strength not to throw in the towel. I’ve had people tell me that there was no way they could ever go through something like this … but y’know what? I’ll bet people will find that they’re a lot stronger than they know. One of the dumbest things I ever heard was a woman saying she’d never go through chemo because she’d lose her hair. What?!? Give me a flippin’ break. Loss of hair is the least of the issues. As I said above, I’ve lost my hair four times, my eye-lashes at least twice and haven’t seen my eyebrows in five years. Small price to pay.

  7. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Liz,

    Honor the bitch within! She’s keeping you alive and I for one am delighted!

    Keep the faith and keep the fight going. You could have one more year or thirty more years, but you know something – that’s the same for any of us.

    The trick is to make each and every day count. 🙂

    Big hugs.
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Maddy’s Floor is on Free for 2 days!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      “Honor the bitch within”? Love it, Dale.

      You’re right. You really don’t know how long you have. Hell, I always figured I’d get hit by a bus before cancer would catch up to me. 😯 Sometimes making every day count is tough because you’re just too damned busy.

      I’ve been asked why I don’t just quit my day job and concentrate on recovery. No can do. Gotta have that reason to get up every morning and drag my sorry butt out the door. There are so many things out there designed to keep you going. Family and friends do it for me. 😉

  8. Judy Beatty says:

    My prayers are with you. I have friends and family who are going through what you are, and I am believing for each of you that you will find complete and lasting peace with God’s help, and that you will find a miraculous healing in your body(s). I pray for a big, miraculous year for you. One that can only come from your Maker. Big hugs, heart-felt blessings, and a chocolate cupcake with a huge mound of your favorite frosting on top.

  9. Liz,
    You inspire me so much with your attitude, courage and fight!
    Thank you for being so open and willing to share your story. I’ve known too many women who’ve battle breast cancer, and I know they, too, would be inspired by you.
    Also, I thought you looked fabulous at RT!! 🙂
    Marilyn Brant`s last blog was …Great New Reads!

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Thanx, Marilyn.

      I went to the Komen Race/Walk earlier this month and its really amazing (and alarming) how many pink t-shirts were out there. They give pink t-shirts to the people who are cancer survivors … white t-shirts to all others participating in the race/walk. It seems like we all know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

  10. Such an inspiring, but bittersweet post. I can’t imagine what you deal with every day, but you have such an amazing attitude. Sending lots of cyber hugs your way.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Thanx, Jenn. I still think that in the same situation, a lot of people would be surprised at the strength they find within themselves. Before I was diagnosed, I think I had the same attitude. How do you handle it? Got my answer. 😆 The hard way. You do what you gotta do and move on. Complaining and bemoaning your condition will gain you absolutely nothing.

  11. Jenea W says:

    Liz, you are an inspiration to all women. I admire your spirit. Last year we went through a scare and the biopsy came back clear. But now every time I find the smallest thing I panic. I have lost both of my parents to cancer and I promised my mom after she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer that I would grow my hair and donate it. I made good on my promise a few months ago. I am thankful for people like you who have such strength, that make me believe that we as women can do anything. I wish I could give you a big hug. You are truly an extraordinary woman. I wish you all the best.

  12. Liz Kreger says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your parents, Jenea. That is beyond rough. Before me, there was no history of breast cancer in my family. Now, I insist that my sisters get checked out regularly.

    I’m so glad your biopsy came back clean. I’m cheered every time I hear things like that. You do have to stay vigilant, but don’t let it take over your life. Panic will only stress you and chances are good, it’ll turn out to be nothing. One of my sisters gets calcium deposits all the time, but she gets them checked each time. Always a good precaution, but she’s learned not to freak out each time she finds a lump.

    Good of you to donate your hair. I know a lot of women who uses wigs. I’ve always gone the scarf route and have tons of ’em. I tend to have lots of fun coming up with different ways to wear them. However, right now I’ve got about an inch of hair and can finally forego them. Feels good to have hair again. 😎

  13. CNL says:

    Cancer sucks! Ruff Ruff & Meow is donating 10% from the proceeds of all retail sales of their breast cancer awareness products to the fight against cancer.

  14. Liz, you know how much I love and respect you. You are the poster child for amazing attitudes.
    Michelle Diener`s last blog was …Visit to Ellenbrook Library, Saturday October 13th

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