gratitude

I debated writing this post. It seems odd to be saying thanks after the cards I’ve been recently dealt. (“Thank you sir, may I have another”) And it’s also difficult for me to convey the depth and breadth of my enormous appreciation for the so many friends and family members and acquaintances who have reached out during the last 10 days.

Small sidebar alert: (Don’t worry I’m coming back to my point. Slowly.) M sent me a really funny video on Fantasy Football stereotypes today. Can you tell I’m obsessed? With  a 3-3 record, and the – wait for it – 2nd lowest cumulative point total in my league… umm…as if that’s something remotely awesome to brag about considering that the team with the lowest total points is 0-6. Love ya TBSS!), I’ve determined that I need a new hobby. Like,  STAT.

So this blog keeps me occupied and instead cruising the waiver wire for weekly pickups and delving into the deep dark depths of the Fantasy Football abyss, I turn my attention elsewhere. Which is a good thing.

How did I get to have such an awesome support system like you guys? You totally know who you are even if I don’t mention you by name:

  • You are the angels who chauffeur my kids around when I have doctor’s appointments in the city;
  • The thoughtful pals who drop off glossy magazines and dry shampoo at my doorstep;
  • The behind-the-scenes wizards who help me with WordPress so I look like a html coding genius;
  • The ones who text me from Target and ask if I need anything;
  • The enablers who allow me focus on important things like who will now play Christian Grey in the movie, what will happen to Khloe and Lamar,  and how many black leather jackets is too many;
  • The old school friends who call, text and email to “check in” and don’t expect a reply back in return;
  • The selfless helpers who take notes at doctor’s appointments form me while I’m busy digesting an entirely new vocabulary;
  • The packs of people in my life who aren’t afraid to look me in the eye, inquire how I’m feeling, ask if I want to talk,  and understand when I don’t;
  • And to all of you who have showered me with your kind and touching words, shared your love and affection, and been brave enough to laugh with me when I crack a completely inappropriate cancer joke…….

You guys rock! True ‘dat.

 

xo JG

 

numbers + stats

For all you data heads and math geeks out there (there may be 1 or 2 of you, Bueller? Bueller?) and for those of you who continue to send me kind emails, texts and messages of love and support and “Any news?” – this is for you. Ta da! We’ve got numbers people!

[And in the spirit of those old Tylenol commercials: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV,” I preface this with “I am not a doctor, but I’m playing one right now.”]

Let’s review:

  • My left breast has infiltrating (or invasive) ductal carcinoma
  • It appears to be .6 cm but we don’t know the exact size or shape but it appears to be teeny tiny

And now, the new data:

  • Clinical Stage 1.
  • Grade 2: (on a scale 1-3). Intermediate cell growth rate.
  • Ki-67 is 40-50%. This measures how aggressive the tumor is.
  • HER-2 This measures human epidermal growth factor receptor and HER-2 means that the HER2 protein is not causing the cancer.
  • Hormone Status is ERPR+ which means that the estrogen is causing the tumor to grow, which indicates that the cancer should respond well to hormone suppression treatments.

And in other data news – my mom bought me a cool Nike+ Fuelband which I wear on my arm like a bracelet and it does triple duty as a watch, calories burned tracker and steps taken.  I am determined to stay healthy during this journey – no laying in bed with an empty pint of Chubby Hubby on my nightstand (nope – that’s not an intended diss of M – honest!) Plus, it’s super rad. And if you had to ask, I got the clear/white one. More feminine. So now there’s like almost no excuse to take Lucky on late afternoon walks with F so I can hit my fuel target each day. (But let’s be real people, I can probably come up with a few decent excuses and I don’t even need to try that hard to do it either – so there)

Bam!

Bam!

 

xo JG

 

 

let’s talk about boobs

I’m just gonna say it. I’ve always hated my boobs.

I come from a long line of boobalicious Jewish women: my mom, my Nana, and her mom. It seems to be the dominant gene trait in my family. Although J is only 8 1/2 (going on 14), she’s well aware of what’s in store for her, lucky girl.

Q: Mommy, when I’m 14, am I allowed to date Justin Bieber?

A: Ummm. No.

I love to tease her about her “big boobs” that she’s going to get. “You’re gonna get ’em! Big ones! Big ones like me and Nana!” I say to her with a smile as she contorts her face and imagines the worst.  Girls go through puberty way earlier than my friends and I did and develop breast buds and begin their periods much, much earlier. Craziness. So I take a page out of F’s playbook and talk openly and frequently about what’s around the corner for Miss J.

My earliest memory of my boob shame began in 7th grade when I started to develop. I didn’t want breasts, didn’t ask for them, and didn’t like the way they looked in my Merona tops and Esprit sweatshirts. And instead of getting a bra (Hello? Totes uncomfy, and you could totally see the outline of the bra through t-shirts and tank tops – no thank you), I opted for a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes to smooth and flatten me out. I remember rockin’ my speedo one day under my fancy Rosh Hashanah dress and my mom said to me: “You know, you don’t have to wear a bathing suit under your dress. I am more than happy to buy you a bra!” But I liked my bathing suit – this way my budding breasts were barely noticeable. For awhile.

When the jig was finally up, and I had to acknowledge that wearing a speedo to school every day was not only ridiculously impractical (you try taking that thing on and off to pee – I hadn’t yet mastered the crotch side swoop), but also um, not terribly hygienic, I agreed to let my mom take me bra shopping. (Enter painful and embarrassingly tortuous  memories here.)

Little lacy numbers in lavender and pink with cotton padding and skinny satin straps soon made way for matronly, nondescript, beige contraptions with thick straps that promised to separate, lift and minimize.  M and I nick-named these bras “kick ass”. I think they used the same material for my bras for on-the-ground-assault in Operation Desert Storm. Steel traps, those things were. While my friends could wear those teeny tiny triangle bikini tops, I was stuck in underwire hell. As far as I was concerned, my boobs were enemy #1.

Fast forward to a breast reduction, a couple of pregnancies, and a couple of kids later, and my boobs have remained the cellar dwellers of my fave body parts list.  My breasts have singlehandedly prevented me from excelling at certain sports like golf and running (okay the last one is a lie – I would have never enjoyed running!), made it difficult to find bathing suits that fit, and cause me to “bust” out of a few tops here and there. Indeed, the irony is totally not lost on me that one of my breasts would grow a malignant tumor. I guess the silver lining here is that I don’t feel “connected” to my breasts in a way that defines who I am as a woman or mother, or is one of the best physical attributes that I like about myself. So wherever my cancer journey and treatment path leads me with respect to my ample chest, as long as it starts with the word “cancer” and ends with  the word “free”, I’m fine with that.

So there you have it. My boobs: an anti-love story.

 

feeling blue in a sea of pink

It was bound to happen. A blue day. (blue accessories alert!) Especially given that I’ve been living with cancer for just 5 days. That’s less than a week! A week ago my TTT had not been discovered! A week ago I was stressing about my dog eating my undies, my daughter not finishing her dinner, and my tennis game not getting any better.

But today, reality sank in. Holy shit. I have to actually deal with this. And there’s so much to do on top of my already jam-packed life (and of course this takes precedence) but I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard not to feel like I’m sinking here. It’s a lot to take in, and there’s a lot to be done. And all I want to do is…nothing.

I snapped at the kids today. For no reason. I blame it on the TTT. (because of course I’m a totally awesome mom 100% of the time: engaged, laser-focused, and interested in every little thing they’re doing.)

You’ve decided you want to be a Vampire for Halloween and not a surfer girl? Stupendous! 

You’re going to play Torrey Smith and not Josh Gordon as your flex and ignore my advice? Fantastic!

I need to come out and view the Halloween decorations at the front of the house right away this second right now? Absolutely! 

I saw an excellent movie today at the Mill Valley Film Festival with S and K called “Beside Still Waters” (fun fact: actor Chris Lowell who was in Veronica Mars wrote directed it and came to speak before and after and he is supercute.) Think “The Bill Chill” of our generation – high school friends gather in a big house for a weekend following the death of the main character’s parents and we experience grief, longing, humor, and regret along with the 8 friends who reconnect after this tragedy.  Chris Lowell said afterwards, he hopes it makes people want to pick up the phone and connect with people they’ve lost touch with and it does. So even though the movie was beautiful and poignant and really quite excellent, it wasn’t until I came home that I started to feel, well, sorta blue.

You guys have been great. I’m loving all of the comments to my posts and the feedback on the blog in general. Everyone keeps saying “You have such a great attitude about this” and “If there’s anyone who will fight this it’s you” – and I appreciate those sentiments, I really do! I need you guys in my corner, cheering me on, lifting me up, no doubt. But today, I’m going to say that feeling blue is okay. Some days are just like that. And that’s ok. For reals.

xo JG

sharing the news + 1st dr update

We told the kids a few days ago. I wanted to do it quick and casual, kind of like, oh by the way, I have breast cancer…tra la la. I had this in my head that we’d employ a similar tactic that we had with the sex talk: short and sweet and to the point and leave room at the end for questions. I had also decided that it would be best not to deliver the news at night, just when we’re getting them ready for bed. So we did it in the morning, in the kitchen in the middle of our highly-practiced-yet-evolved- before-school-chaotic-rush.

C took the news fairly well, nodded thoughtfully, and then went back to eating his breakfast. J made a joke about mommy’s boobies, and Z was stone-cold-silent and then excused himself to go to the bathroom. Okay, so 2 out of 3 ain’t bad I thought as I went to find Z in his room where he had retreated.

My heart quite simply breaks when I think of seeing him in such pain and anger and fear. I know why he was scared. Cancer is a super scary thing. And Mike and I had recently lost a very dear friend to cancer earlier this year (at 42) and the kids saw us mourn and grieve and see how devastated we were (and still are). They saw the school community support our friend’s two daughters after losing their dad.  There’s nothing else to say but cancer sucks.

I’m going to be okay – I can feel it. But I can’t make any promises to my kids and I can’t predict the future. What I can do is validate their feelings of sadness and fear and just try to follow their lead with this new uncertain path. Sigh.

My “shopping for surgeons” crusade has begun. Yesterday my mom and I went to UCSF (at Mt. Zion) to see a surgical oncologist there. We were both very impressed with the facility, the doctors, staff and options. Dr E confirmed what we already knew: (but it’s always nice to hear it again) that my teeny tiny tumor  most definitely did not appear on my mammogram from February 2013 and they we were way lucky to have caught it now.

She also stressed that I do not need to make a decision right away and we do not need to rush into this. She is looking at scheduling surgery towards the end of November, if we choose to do it at UCSF. Dr. E also echoed what we’d read the 2 surgery options are: lumpectomy followed by 6 weeks of radiation 5 days a week, or mastectomy followed by reconstruction. She does not think I will require chemotherapy.

We are seeing 2 more doctors this week and next and we still await the full pathology report from the biopsy which will detail the stage, grade and whether the tumor is HER+ or HER- (has to do with how or if the TTT responds to estrogen). I have an MRI scheduled for Wednesday, and we won’t get the BRCA gene results for a few more weeks.

So we wait. And wait. Things are not going as fast as I’d like them to, but it is what it is.

xo JG

 

 

feeling the love!

Wow – what does a girl do to deserve friends and family like you all? We’ve been overwhelmed by the calls, texts, emails and check-ins. It means so much to get such sweet notes of love and support. Thank you, thank you!  I even got a “Cancer trade” from a fantasy football teammate, and while it wasn’t the RB I coveted, I’m happy with my new TE. (It’s better than being Fantasy-raped which I was by her husband, ex-manager last year. Fantasy Football people. What did you THINK I was talking about?)

Tomorrow is my first appointment to see a surgeon at UCSF. A ton of questions floating around in my mind! Will my final pathology results be in yet? What’s the timetable for surgery? What’s the appropriate outfit to wear? It needs to be comfy, yet chic, yet also easy to take on and off for exam (if needed) and warm for the winds of SF.

Meeting Surgeon #1 tomorrow

Meeting Surgeon #1 tomorrow

WEARING: AG Skinny Repair Leggings + Joie suede loafer + Kerisma oversize sweater available at Madison Tiburon  + Enza Costa tank available at Nicolette.

 

Crap. Crap

gins

Team Gins ain’t takin’ no prisoners with this cancer thing y’hear?

So my test results from last Friday’s biopsy came back positive. Shit. I have breast cancer. Before you start making me a casserole – let me tell you what I know + where we are:

  • My left breast tested positive for infiltrating ductal carcinoma.
  • It is “teeny tiny” according to my OB at .6 cm in length.
  • I have been tested for the BRCA gene could take up two weeks to get results.
  • I will have an MRI next week.
  • I am seeing a few surgeons in the city and Marin to discuss a plan. It’s likely I will have 2 options: a lumpectomy followed by radiation or a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction. There may be chemo involved.
  • After surgery I will get treatment by an oncologist.
  • They caught this really early as this tumor was not on the mammogram from February. The 2nd biopsy for the calcifications came back negative.
  • We’ve told the kids.

I have a mixed range of emotions that changes almost hourly: disbelief, shock, determination and anxiety – but an overwhelming strong sense that I will tackle this the way I take charge of everything in my life – from my fantasy football team to reorganizing my closet and managing my kids’ packed calendars – by immersing myself with the facts, studying it from all angles, and analyzing the crap out of it. Oh, and I also have a rock solid support system in my family and friends like you all!

So what can you do for me? Allow me to joke about having cancer, indulge me in some ridiculous fantasy trades (I need a RB), treat me the same way you always do, don’t be afraid if I go from laughing to crying in a nanosecond and hold off on the dinners, Helping Hands and other helpful tasks for now.

I need some time for Mike and I to get our heads wrapped around this, and come up with a plan. I know tough times lay ahead and I will absolutely lean on all of you for support, prepared foods, driving and picking up my kids, and holding my hand.  But not just yet. Honest.  I’ve only just got a taste, but things have a way of working in the cancer world more slowly than my normal “get ‘er done” agro pace. It’s going to be a big lesson in patience that’s for sure.

In the meantime, please don’t be offended if I don’t return your calls or emails right away – I’m not hibernating – I’m just “talked out” at the moment. I know you love me and right back at all of you. I know you want to help and we will absolutely reach out and take you up on your kind and generous offers when we know more. For reals.

What I will accept? Your friendship, support, advice on must-watch new shows for fall season, fab book reccos, and an occasional ride to schlep my kids around while I may have Dr’s appointments.

xo JG