On April 13th, 2012, my wife Debbie was diagnosed with breast cancer. On the pages of Caringbridge.org, (search debbiebrodinsky), I started a journal documenting the journey, which three surgeries, multiple recoveries, and plenty of emotional moments later, will lead to the One Year Cancer Free moment on May 10th, 2013.
Today is May 1st. Over at the Caringbridge.org site I have elected to share the Top Ten most significant moments of that journey, posting them one day at a time, leading up to May 10th.
But I’ve decided to mirror that message here on this blog. And instead of just posting the link, I am posting the journal entries. I hope you will choose to take part. Although I open myself up on these pages on a daily basis, I am offering up a deeper view into my world, into my heart, but more importantly if you choose to follow, you will get to know the woman I am incredibly fortunate elected to accept my hand in marriage more than 15 years ago.
So here it goes, #10. And we start at the beginning, with what was titled, My Story, about what was happening to Debbie, but which I quickly learned was Our Story. So if you will take my take my hand and share my heart, we’ll begin:
And so another journey begins. However, this time it will end differently. I’ll say it again, this time there will be a different ending.
Two-and-a-half years ago we lost our father/father-in-law, Jerry Gross, after a battle with and surgery to remove esophageal cancer. We didn’t think it would end that way, but it did. We were just beginning to get on with our lives… and now we learn the love of my life, the mother of my two beautiful daughters, Debbie, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
It all started with a mammogram back in March that showed something was “a little different” from another mammogram about a year ago. And after an MRI, an Ultra-Sound and eventually an MRI needle-guided biopsy, we had an answer. After the biopsy, the radiologist told us he believed at first glance there was a 1-in-10 chance the tissue sample was malignant.
Unfortunately he was wrong. The pathology report showed the tissue was not benign. It is DCIS, Ductal Carcinoma In-Situ. Thousands of cases are diagnosed ever year. But there is also an invasive tumor outside the duct, the real area of concern… and a few other areas of “suspicion”.
On Thursday, April 19th, we met with one of the best, Dr Neil Friedman, head of the Hoffberger Breast Center at Mercy Medical Center. After an examination and a review of the films he confirmed, cancer.
The options: a lumpectomy (not easy because of the cystic nature of the breast) or a mastectomy. Debbie has opted for the latter. But being the young mother of two, the decision is to go with a double mastectomy. The goal is to stop looking over our shoulders, always worrying about the next mammogram, the next irregularity, the next “follow-up”, the next round of testing. Its time for all that to end. Its time to move forward, without fear.
We just learned this evening, that the mastectomy and the reconstructive surgery will be scheduled for Thursday, May 10th. Dr Bernard Chang from Mercy will do the reconstructive surgery and implants. In the end, this will be OK and Debbie will be one of the survivors.
Never thought we would be going through anything like this… but who does? It is simply another avenue on the journey of life. Country singer Gary Allan has a song, “Life ain’t always beautiful”. But my wife is, my girls are, our family is, our incredible friends are… and that ‘s what it is all about. With all your love and support how can we lose? Debbie will need all of it as she begins the next chapter of her life… and our lives together. Already we need to say thanks to so many for reaching out and letting us know you are there. It is a true blessing.
My wife is a fighter. No doubt about that. She will come out of this on the other side, better than she went in. The struggle of life does not beat you, it only makes you stronger. I am married to the most beautiful, funny, smart incredible woman.. who happens to be an outstanding mother to boot. No cancer is going to take that away and it will not defeat us.
Deb gets her strength from our girls, Sophie and Emily, from her sister Alisa and maybe most of all from her mom and my mother-in-law, Sharon, who herself is a 20-year-breast-cancer -survivor. She is leading by example. You fight back, you don’t get beat, you ride the emotional rollercoaster and when the ride ends, you get up and look back and realize you were scared, but you made it. That’s all that matters.
All of those who survive every day give us strength: “The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”.
Those who have made the journey before Debbie give us strength.
Those who love us give us hope and light.
Those who we have never met, but are living the same challenge…. you have our support.
Thanks for being there. We couldn’t ask for more.