Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Slumtimes Columnist Mary Mitchell Has Cancer

Breast cancer battle is just beginning
April 13, 2009 MARY MITCHELL

More than 500 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer every day.

On March 13, I was one of them.

It was as if someone had strapped me into the cab of a roller coaster.

Each new test jerked me up a monstrous incline; each new piece of information flung me into an abyss.

And still I consider myself blessed.

I have the support of family and friends who believe in the power of prayer.

I have medical insurance and understanding employers.

And I have a team of compassionate, well-trained doctors.

On February 10, during a routine physical, my longtime family doctor, Dr. James P. Baraglia, felt a lump.

It just so happened I was scheduled to take a mammogram that same day.

Twenty-eight days later, after a follow-up ultrasound and a biopsy, I got the diagnosis over the phone.

"You have a cancer," the radiologist told me.

His words were paralyzing. I spent days weeping and praying before I had the strength to even begin researching my disease.

Still, the doctors described what I have -- ductal carcinoma in situ as well as infiltrating breast cancer -- as a "sneaky" and "wild" form of breast cancer.

Unfortunately, that is not unusual.