Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Breast cancer is not a big deal & doesn't kill anyone"

"Breast cancer is not a big deal & doesn't kill anyone" - I learned that factoid from my Northwestern University (Chicago) affiliated gynecologist. Good to know

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the University of Chicago in 2006, I decided to return to North Carolina and Duke University for treatment.

Chemotherapy was not an easy road for me. And, except for one beautiful friend (Tina) and my cousin (Patti), those I thought were my friends and my family ignored me. So, I did not have a plethora of emotional support.

At my last chemo treatment, the Duke oncologist told me "you know, if you lived in Europe, you probably would not even have chemotherapy - we do not know if chemo works - let's cancel the chemo and ablate your ovaries instead." It was surreal. I had the last chemo treatment. My ovaries have not been ablated.

Then the Duke radiation oncologist ignored my blinding headaches (and missed radiation treatments). He would not listen to my concerns about taking Tamoxifen.

While a patient at Duke, a radiation Fellow (who was on his way to a "real job" at Yale Medical) told me that I should go to Northwestern Memorial University for the follow up with my breast cancer.

I was told to have a yearly exam by a gynecologist because of the medication I take to prevent a recurrence of the cancer.

And I dutifully went to a Northwestern Medical affiliated this past week. And she informed me of something I did not know: "breast cancer is not that big a deal anymore" and "nobody ever really dies from breast cancer."

So I left a dad with Stage 4 cancer in North Carolina to come to Chicago and be told that breast cancer is not a big deal. Great. It makes me sick to my stomach to think I could be so selfish to get myself checked out while I leave my care-giving responsibilities for dad.

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