Friday, July 26, 2013

I have breast cancer

Dear friends and family,
I've decided with some trepidation to start this blog, a highly public act for someone with fantasies of privacy that seem to run contrary to my fundamental sharing nature. In any case, this seems like a more efficient way to share what's going on with me than writing a zillion emails.

Last month I found a lump in my right armpit, assumed it was nothing, but follow-up mammogram indicated cancer and subsequent biopsy in Seattle confirmed it. Here are the basics:

-I have infiltrating ductal carcinoma, the most common breast cancer, most likely stage 3 (for the cancer wonks, staging and TNM won't be definitively determined until surgery).

-Treatment plan calls for chemotherapy (started two weeks ago, hair is beginning to fall out...), followed by mastectomy and axillary dissection (removal of cancerous lymph nodes in armpit), then radiation and long-term hormone therapy.

-I'm getting treatment at Swedish Cancer Institute and we're living on Bainbridge Island in the peaceful home of my sister-in-law and her husband, who have been incredibly generous and accommodating. I get to go to the hospital via ferry and foot, which is ideal for my psyche. And the school district is... well, let's just say it's the upside of the socioeconomic monoculture we've landed in. Sad to say, in this country high SES = good public schools.

So far I am feeling great. They force-feed you meds to combat the side effects of chemo and although the side-effect-fighting meds come with their own potential side effects, it's all been fine so far. Once I got out of my travel-diagnosis-moving-surgical procedures-and-naysaying nurses-induced doldrums and started running again last week, I started feeling better in every way.

I'll leave you with some pics. My luddite brain managed to upload them but they refuse to stay in the order I put them in! Oh well, consider this a work in progress. 

With love and gratitude,

Second infusion of adriamycin-cytoxan

The "red devil," aka adriamycin, which is so toxic it has to be injected by a nurse rather than by drip. The nurse actually buttoned her jacket to the top before administering it.

Alder at skateboard camp. Couldn't resist sharing this gem. 
Settled on this one. Libby says I look like Pat Benatar.

Wig shopping with Layla and Alder. This one did the best job capturing the general messiness of my hair but was too red and more compellingly, too expensive (my insurance wasn't impressed with the "cranial prosthesis" prescription the doc helpfully wrote.)
Me in my mom's hair! Alder was alarmed.


  1. You are so beautiful, strong and courageous in EVERY way Becca. All of my love with lots of healing energy coming to you from my heart and soul.

    So much love to you - Amy Coffman

  2. Love to you and the kids, Becca.

  3. You are beautiful, Becca... love to you and your family -- we are here for you, if you need ANYthing :-)

  4. Linda's hair cracks me up -- nice choice, though (although, like everything, I must admit a slight preference for the expensive one!)

  5. Everything Amy Coffman said, yup. Love you-Barb

  6. You look just like your mom, Becs. I never realized it til you put on the wig. Hugs and kisses. Aunty B

  7. Becca..I am in awe of your strength once again. Thinking of you and sending warm hugs from Rockport.

    P.S. Mari still asks about Alder. He made quite the impression.

    Love, Ally

  8. Love that you decided to start a blog... thanks for sharing how the treatment is going for you. We love you, J, D, N, I.

  9. Becca, were thinking of you and sending much love.
    I've often thought of our conversations about living in Juneau...seems so many years ago!
    You are just as beautiful and lovely as ever.

    1. Thank you... can't tell who this is from, though...?

  10. I like the Pat Benatar wig. You might try a Chrissie Hynde wig, too, though she's got a lot of bangs. Becca, I just got the email from your Dad & Mom and I will follow your blog. I'm glad you're writing, and I like to think of you on Bainbridge Island. We'll be on the coast of Massachusetts in our sailboat "Funny Things" through mid-September, and will contact your folks and hope to get them out onto our boat: it's time for Rosie & Franklin to meet! Our own blog at is only a placeholder now, but at some point will be real. Love, your cousin Betsy

    1. Betsy, sorry so long on the reply. Yes, it would be great for Franklin and Rosie--cousin-twins--to meet! I have not worn the wig once. Let me know when the blog is active and best wishes on your adventures. Love, Becca