Meeting the Navigator

Getting a diagnosis of DCIS has been more of a head game than a physical one. Physically I feel no different than before the diagnosis, but emotionally I’m on a roller coaster.

Though it is only just begun, this journey has already changed my attitude about letting others in.

The outpouring of love and support that has come in since my first announcement has been overwhelming. Thank you.

I can definitely see the irony of it being the left breast. The receiving side of my body. The same side that locked up my lower back a couple months ago. I’m great at giving, maybe not so much receiving.

I love Louise Hay. Her book Heal Your Body is the first reference I pick up when dealing with a health issue. Emotions and mental state are key players in the body’s physical health. Heal Your Body gives mental causes for physical illness and new thought patterns for changing them.

This is what it says about breast problems and cancer.

Breast problems: A refusal to nourish the self. Putting everyone else first.

Cancer: Deep hurt. Longstanding resentment. Deep secret or grief eating away at the self.

These are the new thought pattern suggestions.

Breast problems: I am important. I count. I now care for and nourish myself with love and with joy.

Cancer: I lovingly forgive and release all of the past. I choose to fill my world with joy. I love and approve of myself.

Yep. I can see myself in that. I even work hard to deflect things from being about me. I was telling a friend about my diagnosis and I said “It’s just DCIS, no big deal”. She looked me straight in the eye and said “It is a big deal”. I bartered with her, “Okay it’s the littlest big deal you can get”.

DCIS stands for ductal carcinoma in situ and means that there are abnormal cells inside the milk duct. It is considered by many to be the earliest form of breast cancer. But there are some in the medical profession that think it shouldn’t even be classified as a cancer because it is not invasive.

Leave it to me to get the one that no one can agree on.

Most of us are used to hearing about the stage of a cancer. My DCIS is a stage 0. Precancer they call it.

When I got my diagnosis I did the one thing that you should never do when you are told you have cancer….I googled it. I saw treatment options that varied from take some supplements and you’ll be fine, to mastectomy with radiation and chemotherapy.

I booked an appointment with the navigator.

This was my husband’s first visit to the breast center with me. As we sat waiting for our appointment with the navigator I pointed out all the uniforms, folders, décor and other offending pink items I could see.

I wanted to think about anything other than the reason we were there.

When my name was called he stood up with me and caught my elbow as I swayed a little bit. My body felt heavy and my feet rooted to the floor. If I followed her through that door she was going to tell me about cancer. Not just any cancer….mine.

Paula had a soothing smile and a positive tone. She showed us into the library. I wasn’t prepared for an entire room filled with cancer literature. There were books, posters and anatomy charts everywhere I looked. I took comfort in seeing some holistic titles in the mix.

I pulled my own personal notebook a little closer to my chest as if to shield myself from the scary books.

We all sat down at the table and it was the first time I noticed the large yellow envelope and notebook that Paula had been carrying. The envelope contained copies of my mammograms and results of my biopsies. I would need these for the surgeon.

But the notebook was for me.

It is a 3” black binder with; you guessed it, pink writing and trim. Surely she had made a mistake. I couldn’t need a binder that big….it is only stage 0.

She opened it up to show me the contents. There was a card from the president of the Breast Health Center as a survivor herself. There was a small pamphlet about understanding your journey and then a much larger book called Be A Survivor. She cautioned me to only read the parts in that book that pertain to my diagnosis. Later I would understand why she said that.

Slowly the binder started to give me some comfort. I could appreciate how far the western model of medicine has come if they are empowering me with information. She showed me the tab with my imaging results, the pathology reports and the 10 other tabs. Not all the sections pertain to my situation but all the bases seemed to be covered.

I’ll admit I was feeling a little smug. I wouldn’t be needing all this stuff…I’m a stage 0.

After she got done with the generalities of the binder she started to talk to me about my specific diagnosis. She explained about DCIS and that it is precancer and stage 0.

Then she said something I wasn’t prepared for.

Your DCIS is stage 0 and grade 3. I knew about cancer staging but I was not familiar with grade. Grading ranges from 1-3. Mine was the highest grade.

A grade 3 means that the cells are growing and spreading aggressively.

Wait. What?

Growing. Aggressive. Not what I expected to hear. It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.

I struggled to pay attention during the rest of the appointment. I watched my husband’s face as he asked questions and tried to hide his own fear.

Neither of us said anything as we rode the elevator down and walked out of the building. When we got in the car I began to cry, trying to wipe away the tears without him noticing. He couldn’t help but notice…he was looking at me so lovingly.

“We’ll get through this”, he said. “I know”, I replied. He hugged me and started the car.

We would see the surgeon in two days.


18 replies
  1. Pat
    Pat says:

    You continue to be a giver and healer even at a low point in your own health and healing…and by doing such, you are helping all of us understand a serious process that can effect any of us, at any time.
    I hope that you realize how important the documenting of your journey is, to not only you, but to all of your sisters(and their circle).
    I surround you, and Tom with the blue light of healing and multiple hugs.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You are strong, and can handle this, you have people around you to support and love you through this time.

  3. Madeline
    Madeline says:

    Insure feel you
    I was dcis left stage 1 grade 1
    And I too spend my life giving and healing others
    So it was another chance to let others help me
    I was 54
    It’s been nearly 7! Years
    I’m still managed by my specialist Breast surgeon
    Yearly stuff
    I gained new friends
    New regard for healers and a new perspective on how much I give and how much I. n van allowing others t give
    I still have all my books
    All my mammas and mri
    Scheduled for a new mri this year just cause my doc Said so
    Cancer is pervasive on one side of my family
    But not all the same
    It ended up being a gift in a weird way
    Take care of you first
    Let more people in
    Trust the universe knows what u need better than you do

  4. Esther Zack
    Esther Zack says:

    Melanie: That is exactly what I had…..and with surgery and radiation I’m now in 10 years of remission! I know you have loads of support, but just know that I’m also here for you if you need “a sister who has been there and walked in your shoes”!!

    I always say, don’t give me advice until you’ve walked in my shoes, so don’t listen to everyone!

  5. Simone
    Simone says:

    Melanie, my love comes strongly to you…I hope you can feel it. I’m grateful you have your husband’s physical & emotional support. Kathy taught me how to send reiki. I’m going to send it to you daily. Thank you for sharing your experiences as you are on your journey with DCIS.

  6. Tom
    Tom says:

    Thank you for sharing, we are praying and thinking positive thoughts of strength to you all … Our Love to you, Tom and Lisa

  7. paula hannasch
    paula hannasch says:

    Melanie thank you for sharing your journey with us. You are such a beautiful soul. We stand with you and beside you. Much love

  8. Betsy
    Betsy says:

    You are an amazing writer. I hope these blog posts make it to publication when you are done writing your journey.

    I know too what a giver sacrifices – themselves. This scary event will put the focus on you a bit more now and you will be able to help untold others with your words.

    If there is anything I can To help I returning to AZ for the summer tomorrow and will be around tillage September. Use me!!


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