IN THE HIGH COUNTRY, no matter where I look, I see breasts!
Does this make me an honorary adolescent boy? NOT! But it is bemusing.
In a visit to Wyoming last week, a friend there leaned in to whisper that the Grand Teton—the prominent and iconic three mountain peaks jutting up around Jackson Hole—were named by French trappers. They called the mountains Les Trois Tetons, or The Three Breasts.
Gotta love the French, eh (imagine what they call other totemic places on the landscape).
As for The Grand Teton, the tallest of the three peaks, it literally means “the big tit.” My friend’s teenaged sons listening in on our conversation, snickered—as did I.
That same visit, I was stopped in my tracks by a huge arch in the centre of Jackson Hole—constructed of elk horns and decorated in pink lights with the familiar breast cancer logo dangling down.
A week earlier, at a restaurant called Haunted Hamburger in the remote community of Jerome, Arizona, this t-shirt jumped out at me: Burgers, Brews & Saving Boobs!
Not only do these images of boobs keep popping up, but I’m constantly meeting women, like me, in the midst of breast cancer treatment. It’s the sisterhood I talked about early in my diagnosis: “This is not a sisterhood you want to be a member of, but once you are, you feel blessed by being in it.” I meet younger women who bravely have undergone double mastectomies, and older women doing whatever it takes to keep the cancer cells constrained.
All these encounters have firmed up my resolve, and help put aside any fear that I can’t do the long game. This doesn’t mean I’m cavalier about breast cancer—I, too, will do whatever it takes. But I’m not afraid.
And I’m grateful that people thoughtfully inquire and ask what’s going on with my treatment plan.
Here’s a brief update:
In late September, I had a final consult with Dr. Quan, my surgeon. In her words: “The breast is a 3-D object. DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is like a shrub or bush and I’m trimming it blindly, in surgery. The second surgery revision (in early September) took out another branch.” All good.
Dr. Quan’s work is done and she’s turned me over to oncology, for radiation. Believe me, I’m not thrilled about the idea of being radiated. But if the risk of recurrence of the cancer is 32% without radiation and that risk drops very significantly with radiation, I’m doing radiation!
To that end, just a few days before Christmas (happy holidays…), I’m booked for a consult with an oncological radiologist, Dr. Natalie Logie (that will be about 15 weeks from the date of my first lumpectomy). A CT simulation will be booked, likely in early January, to map out where the radiation should be targeted and radiation treatments on my right breast should begin mid-January.
A mammogram is already booked for August 2024, as well as a followup consult with Dr. Quan to review those results.
I’m now fully ensconced within Alberta’s breast cancer healthcare system and a full-fledged member of the sisterhood.