A LETTER FROM ARCHANA
To my CF SteadFast Family,
First of all, I am so sorry I didn’t get to meet and personally say goodbye before I left for Seattle on the 21st of August. I was planning to move back to Seattle in Jan 2019, but things kind of unraveled quickly after July 26th and I had to move back to get my treatment started.
My Diagnosis Story:
Early in July, I was feeling pain in my general chest area, nothing alarming that suggested heart or lung problems or a trip to the ER. The pain could be described as a dull muscle ache. I thought that maybe I must have pulled something or done something weird while doing snatches. But the pain persisted for more than two weeks and like every reasonable adult I went on to google to diagnose myself. Low and behold after a heart attack and lung failure the third reason listed for chest pain was breast cancer. I had my annual checkup with my doctor in April and when she had checked my breasts for lumps there was nothing. So when breast cancer popped up in google I didn’t worry. Still that night before sleeping I did a self-breast examination and to my surprise, I found a lump in the lower outer quadrant of my left breast. Immediately I opened American Cancer Society webpage and started reading about masses in breasts, my lump was painful to touch and on their website they had written that cancerous lumps in breasts are not painful plus the average age for breast cancer in America is 62. That kind of put me to ease for that night, but me being the way I am, I called up my GP first thing in the morning and got an appointment. He called me on July 26th and checked the lump himself, immediately after that he asked me to get a 3D mammogram. I went and got a mammogram on August 1st, but since I am pre-menopausal and my breasts are dense, they couldn’t see anything on the mammogram. So I was asked to get an ultrasound on the same day, the mass could be seen on ultrasound but due to its shape, they couldn’t say for sure whether it was benign or malignant. I went for a tumor biopsy on August 6th, the radiologist who was doing my biopsy told me that based on 20 years of her experience my tumor looked benign and that I was too young to have cancer. She told me “young women have all kinds of non-cancerous masses in their breasts”. So you can imagine my shock when my GP called me up on August 8th and told me that the pathology reports for the tumor had come back as positive for Invasive Ductal Carcinoma of Grade 3 and negative for estrogen, progesterone and HER2 protein receptors. He immediately recommended me to a breast surgeon at Memorial Health. After the first meeting at MH I learned that grade is not equal to stage, they cannot tell the stage until they operate and take the whole tumor plus few of my lymph nodes out, plus there are several types of breast cancer and mine which are called Triple Negative Breast Cancer is very common in young women (pre-menopausal) and women of color (African American, Asian Indian, and Hispanic). I also learned that the only treatment for Triple Negative is aggressive chemotherapy as it is an aggressive type of BC and is notorious for coming back with a vengeance in other vital organs of the body in the first five years after treatment is done. Hence, I packed my bags and drove all the way back home to Seattle with my husband and my dog.
Since August 8th, I’ve had a barrage of ultrasounds, mammograms, MRI’s and biopsies and I am still nowhere closer to knowing the stage but the good news is my treatment is finally starting on the 27th of September. The first step is lumpectomy along with nodal biopsy followed by 6 months (12 rounds) of high dose chemo and then 1 month (20 rounds) of radiation.
I am in this for a long haul but I am sure that I will come out of this stronger and maybe a better version of myself. I plan to use the same philosophy that I used to get through all the difficult WODS, “ONE REP AT A TIME”. I also plan to drop in at my husband’s box here in Seattle and do whatever overtly modified version of WOD my body is capable of doing during chemo.
The one thing I miss dearly about Savannah is the SteadFast family, just showing up at the box every day I made many friends and met great people who inspired me to give my all in every WOD. To all my coaches: Brian, Sabrina, Bruce, Emily, Matt, Wes, Nader, Greg, Mireille, Will, Kaci, Phillip, and Trent, thank you so much for all the time, encouragement and mentorship. All of you are rockstars �dc9c�dc9c
One last thing, since October is breast cancer awareness month, I would like to add: Ladies, young or old, pre or post-menopausal, please be your very own strong and resilient advocate. If you feel something is fishy and doesn’t feel right, get it checked. Lumps, bumps, redness, itching, pain are all symptoms of breast cancer, you might have one or have all. BE BREAST AWARE. Always get second opinions. Fight with the scheduler to get a quicker appointment. If you feel your voice is not being heard, change the doctor, find someone who listens to you and doesn’t shrug you off cause you are too young to have cancer. Please ask your families about any genetic history of cancer: carrying any one of the 8 known gene mutations increases your risk of breast cancer to 85% and ovarian cancer by 55%. If men carry these mutations they are at higher risk for some other types of cancer. And finally the one crazy fact I learned, men can have breast cancer too (weird as heck but it is true).