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Stage Zero

Did you know there is a Stage Zero for breast cancer? I didn’t. Well, I didn’t until I was diagnosed with it this summer.

Stage Zero, or DCIS, is when the cells in your ducts have become abnormal. The good news is that it’s contained in the ducts. The bad news is that if you don’t do something about it, it may not stay there.

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to talk about my diagnosis. After having several friends, and friends of friends, battle stages 1 through 4 of breast cancer, my Stage Zero seems almost fake. Pretend cancer. Or at least not worthy of being considered a big deal. But Stage Zero still has to go through a lot of things:

-I had to have a biopsy to see if there was indeed cancer.

-I had to have a lumpectomy in July to get rid of DCIS cells.

-I am currently waiting on test results to know the likelihood of recurrence of the cells to see if I’ll have to do radiation treatment.

-If no radiation, I’m being encouraged to take hormone blocking pills, since my biopsy responded positively to hormones.

-I will have to continue biannual mammograms and have recurring doctor visits with my breast surgeon and oncologist for the next few years.

I also had to go through the doctor appointment where they tell you, “I’m sorry, but the results came back positive. It is cancer.” I’m not sure if you have had that appointment or not, but it is not one I would recommend to anyone.

That being said, my cancer was caught so early it was literally Stage Zero. The survival rate of this diagnosis is basically 100%. My lumpectomy was clean, my margins are great, and I can say there are no longer any cancer cells in my body. I had the best “worst news” you can get. Hooray?

I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions this summer, to be sure: the high of “Really, it’s not a big deal and you will totally fine” and the low of “Oh, you mean I may have to have radiation?” All the while, I’ve been trying to figure out if my reactions were normal or if I was being overdramatic.

I still don’t know if I’m responding correctly, but I did want to share. They say more than 50,000 women have been diagnosed with DCIS, which means I’m not alone on this particular roller coaster. And while you will never find a network that is more loving and supporting than that of the women impacted by breast cancer, the only other person who had the same diagnosis as me was my aunt. So, I wanted to say: I am here. If you are on that roller coaster, I don’t mind taking the ride with you. If you have questions or fears or thoughts, I am here. I do not have any answers, but I will make sure you are not alone on this journey.


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