I'm a 53 year old, native New Yorker, an unemployed social work manager, and live with my amazing partner and one very sweet and large black cat and a demented white and grey kitten. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in my left breast in December 2015. I've had a lumpectomy and am in the 4th week of radiation treatment.

The hardest thing for me right now is, despite the kindness and professionalism of the staff, all of the preparation/simulation/treatment for the radiation makes me feel awful. It's not physical; it's more about the prodding and poking and shifting and whatnot. It's hard not to feel like a specimen.

I've had a long history of cancer in my family - mom, dad, sister - but not of the breast. I've lost a lot of people to AIDS, and this past summer, one of my ex-girlfriends died of ovarian cancer. I've also worked in AIDS and healthcare for over 20 years. I say all this by way of explaining that despite all of my experiences, both professionally and personally, I was still shocked when I was diagnosed. 

I am so fortunate to have an incredibly supportive partner and amazingly wonderful friends, and good health insurance, and live in a city with a lot of great options for care.   

4 Replies

  • Hi mfcotter!  Sounds like you've felt lots of loss but have a good and strong attitude about your diagnosis and treatment.  I'm also a social worker in NYC.  I understand how you can feel like a "specimen."  Ho many more weeks of radiation treatment do you have left?

  • Thanks Darryl and sorry for the very late reply. I finished radiation about 1 1/2 weeks ago and needed to disconnect for a little while. The side effects are slowly lifting; the weird discoloration and irritation of skin is still there but I feel less exhausted which is good.

  • Sorry to hear about the specimen feelings. I look at each poke and prod as a step toward freedom from cancer. Somehow it doesn't seem to hurt as much. I am receiving most of my treatments at a small clinic in Northern California. I am also blessed with a partner who loves and supports me through all of this. We are so lucky to have found each other over six years ago. I wish you great success with your treatments. Cheers, kim

  • Thanks Kim. I like your attitude, and now that it is over I am slowly getting back to whatever normal is. I wish you well in your treatments. -Mary

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