Draft I
By Trish

Dear Reader,

Thank you for your continued love and support. Ever since we updated Our Story, we've received a lot questions, most asking about my Breast Cancer journey. We've now dedicated this page to address some of those questions. Hopefully by shedding light on my personal journey someone, somewhere, will find this information helpful; perhaps in their own journey or that of a loved one.

Should further questions arise, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I can be reached by email at Trish@uribho.com or by phone at (778) 564-3425.

Love Always,

Trish

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms are probably the hardest for any patient. Self examination means being able to recognize something you've never had, felt or seen before.

Looking back, I can now say that I first knew something was wrong when both my breasts swelled up in 2013. I went to the emergency room in Burnaby, explained that why this was an anormally for me but the doctor insisted that I was about to have my period and there was nothing wrong. I tried explaining that since getting my first period at 13, this had never been part of my period. After realizing he wasn't convinced, I left but not before he asked that I come back to see him should the issue persist. One month later, I returned to the same doctor. I informed him that the swelling had persisted in my right breast longer than the left and that now, my right shoulder blade was aching. A dull pain. He once again dismissed it and told me it was pretty common for people my age (39) to start feeling aches and pain, especially in the mornings when we first wake up. I found a General Practitioner (GP) in Surrey, informed him of my issue and asked for a mammogram. He ordered an X-Ray instead and told me he'd contact me if finds anything wrong. I never got the call but I made sure to call and find out my results. The medical assistant checked with the doctor and he told her nothing further was necessary.

So, for a year and a half, or more, I walked around with an aching shoulder blade. I stopped carrying handbags, bought back packs and took up Shiatsu every fortnight at $75 a pop. By 2014, I had an alopecia spot the size of a quarter 2" off the crown of my head going towards my forehead. I was happy, I wasn't stressed or depressed as most would attribute hair loss to.

Medically, it's hard to prove that these were actually the signs and symptoms of an arising problem. But, it surely is one hell of a coincidence that my right breast ended up with a pea sized tumor just a short time later. Perhaps we need to broaden our knowledge by asking women if anything unusual happened to them, years before their breast cancer diagnosis. I can also admit that no mammogram would ever have caught anything that early. Perhaps the two doctors I saw already knew this and only cared for me as they did to lessen anxiety and stress. I later learnt that my breast issue needed to simmer a little longer before real help could be provided.

It wasn't until the end of the first week of November, 2014 that my right nipple bled. I had been asleep but as I woke, I felt myself stretch awkwardly from a prone position. As I lifted my body up, I noticed a smudge of blood on my sheets and sleep shirt. I immediately checked to see if I a cut/hurt in any way. I was not but I noticed dried up blood around my right nipple and when I squeezzed my nipple, blood dripped out. The blood was rather dark for a fresh wound and from my biology background, I knew it was bad and I knew in that instant what it could be. I decided I'd see the doctor the next morning, my day off from work. I took a shower, dressed up and headed to work. I walked around with an albastross around my neck.

The next morning, I rushed over to my primary care physcian, new one. Yep! He immediately set me up for a mammogram. A week or so later, the Jim Pattison Team called me up for my appointment, I paid $300 and had a mammogram done. During the process, blood shot out of my right breast. The technician remained calm, reassured me but she still wore that face of amazement. Before the scan was completed, I had begun to cry, not because it was painful but because I didn't want to go through any of it.

A week later I went back to see my GP. He told me that the mammogram had yielded nothing conclusive and more tests were needed. I wasn't surprised. I even remarked that upon a self exam that morning, the lumps in the right breast matched those on the left. He conducted his own search and he found it! A tiny little bastard with a ragged edge had lodged itself half way between the base of my right breast and my armpit. It felt like a tiny stone, a rough one. I never expected that but again how would I have known. 'The lump' was never described in any of the online information I had started reading. I spent the next month checking for and feeling it just to make sure it was still there. Indeed, it never left, seemed to have grown a little but it never left.

My immediate changes were upon bleeding were that; I threw out my microwave, I removed wires from my bras, I stopped wearing makeup, I actually started using my juicer and I started the search for a more private lodging.

*I have pictures, I had. Apple icloud hacked and lost, hard drive locked. Family, please email what you have. Thank you.

Pandemonium

The Smudge of Blood

The Albatross

Bra Wires Removed

Tests, Results and Diagnosis

For someone who's always dreaded jabs or having blood drawn, it was inevitable that I would pray and ask God to recant his decision. Even though he did not, I started attending daily morning mass again, relocated my bible, rosary and kept them with me all the time. I even filled up my Holy water jar. It's a Catholic thing!

After my mammogram, I was introduced to an amazing surgeon who was well on his way out to retire but whom everyone had said was the man who could see to it that I get medical care. He had been the Surgeon General at Surrey Memorial Hospital for over 25 years. In our first meeting, he got the paperwork started that would have me with a Personal Health Number, a necessity for basic health care in Canada, the kind citizens and permanent residents receive. I was scheduled for a wave of tests and revisits. His office was a short distance from the hospital, the waiting room was small and jam packed with people either waiting for surgery or back for post surgery check-ups. He was the rela deal. He knew his patients by name, extended his hand out to great them as he led them to the examination rooms. He reminded me of another great doctor, Dr. Redmond from Gweru, Midlands, Zimbabwe. He too knew his patients by name and was ever so humble and welcoming. Upon realizing the similarities, a sense of ease and calm overcame me. I knew I was in safe hands.

On the 1st of Dec, 2014 I once again met up with my surgeon to get the results from the multitude of tests I had gone through. While waiting in one of his exam rooms, I noticed and read a very intriguing poem/prayer of sorts. It read,

A CREED FOR THOSE WHO HAVE SUFFERED

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.


I asked for health, that I might do great things.
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.


I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.


I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.


I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.


I got nothing I asked for - but everything I had hoped for.


Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among men, most richly blessed!

-Unknown

Just as I finished reading it, he walked in sat down and began speaking, "Well Patricia, it is what we assumed it would be. You have breast cancer and I will be performing your surgery to remove the tumor. It is really tiny, about 1cm. The size of a pea. "Have you thought about surgery options?", he asked. I told him I had decided on a bilateral mastectomy as opposed to a lumpectomy. I never wanted to worry about the 'good breast' after this. He went on to explain how the surgery would occur, I was in a haze and heard nothing except when he said we may have to remove your nipples and lymph nodes. Nipples, I thought to myself, what! I didn't see this online but again, I had no clue what to search for. He continued, "The good thing is we caught it early, you are one lucky girl. I have scheduled an appointment for you to have a biopsy done. I tried to refuse this as I had read somewhere that the incision from the tumor tends to create a metastasis route. He explained how the biopsy will allow us to get a more accurate measurement of the tumor and a more definitive diagnosis. He informed me that my surgery would likely be in February or March, I shrieked. He once again assured me that historical research work and the statistics guaranteed that the tumor would still be manageable by March. As I was about to ask more questions, he held my hand, leaned in and looked me in the eye and said, "Patricia, do you pray?" I said, 'yes, I'm Catholic!' And, he said, "Good, I find that people with a religious background tend to pull through this better. As a doctor we don't speak of God but nothing explains the miracles I've seen over the years. Having something to look forward to, in this life and beyond, gives people hope. And people need hope. Do you have family around here?" I remarked, ' No, but I facetime with them all the time. I have decided to wait until after Christmas to tell them the diagnosis.' "That's thoughtful of you. When it comes to breast surgery, some women grief the loss of the breast, and focus less on the healing & recovery process." He went on, "now I'm gonna tell you something that will help you through this more than anything else." By this time, he was squeezing my hand in a fatherly way. "Patricia, I want you to think of this as a game. Do you play video games, chess perhaps? " I said, 'yes.' He went on, " Think of this as a game, but in this game losing is not an option, you must WIN. Do whatever you need to do to win at every stage of this process." I nodded and with that he got up, I did as he did and we walked out to his medical assistant. He explained to her what my next steps would be, shook my hand and proceeded to his next patient. Between the creed and the game strategy, my mind was blown, even rewired for the better. I walked away in awe of this amazing doctor, whose experience and wisdom showed in in the gray of his hair. I knew exactly what I was meant to do...WIN!

God was here, he was everywhere and in everyone I met. My prayers were being listened to, heard and granted. I felt good, even happy in spite of my situation. I've always walked this earth knowing that my grandmothers prayed for me more I prayed for myself. I was certain they had done the leg work for me all these years and it was evidently paying off.

Family History & Support

Christmas was fast approaching. Work was barely doable. My thoughts were on getting ready for the storm. I had only been at my new jobs for a few months when i got the diagnosis. We also had to renew our extended coverage. I kept it as it had previously been.

Soltee

Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Kiven

Breast Cancer Research

Kim

Colon Cancer

Treatment Plan

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Mastectomy, Breast Reconstruction & Recovery

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The neighbor from hell #322 - Julio Part I

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Port-A-Cath, Chemotherapy & Recovery

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Genetics & Prognosis

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Overcoming Survivor's Guilt

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The neighbor from hell #423 Julio Part II

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The Divine Factor

- Missed diagnoses (2012 signs & symptoms) - by two doctors not my current GP

- No insurance, - PHN (basic) + extended via work

- Surgery tumor never grew and never spread in three months, Divine intervertion.

- Removal of drains

- Second saline pump for breast expansion...ouch

- Laser focus on recovery

- The Divine Factor