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My Dear Friends...
As most of you know, I have been out on sick leave since the beginning of June. As promised, I would like to share with you what has been going on in my life. But first, I want to again, send you my most heartfelt gratitude for your kind notes, Facebook posts, cards, well-wishes, and most of all, your prayers. I have read every single one and they have meant the world to me and have really helped me to feel much better already!!
Now that I am up and about and can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel, I feel it is time to let you know what's up. There have been a few speculations popping up on Facebook and the QVC Community pages (no, I have not had knee replacement surgery) and I know it is only because you have been so worried. I asked my fellow Hosts to keep all of this private until I could tell you myself, which is why you haven't heard anything yet. So here is my story.
I have always loved the color pink...it's been my favorite since I was a tiny girl. Pink KitchenAid mixer, pink Ninja, pink peonies in my garden, pink sneakers, pink pedicures, lots of pink in my personal Carolyn's Closet. I have always hated cancer. Cancer took the life of my younger brother when he was only 14. Cancer has tried to take other close family members, but luckily they survived. In February, I went for a regular 3D mammogram, then had an ultrasound, and then another "mini" mammogram, and finally was told I needed a biopsy. I was terrified....I had never had anything but normal mammograms my entire life. My mother is a breast cancer survivor (for over 20 years), so I was always diligent about getting mine done, as one can have a greater chance of getting it if one has an immediate family member who has had it. The doctor said not to worry, the vast majority of biopsies come back totally normal. But they have to make sure if they see something even slightly suspicious on a mammogram. I was starting to "think pink".
So, I had the biopsy done in early March and it came back positive for a common, early stage, non-invasive breast cancer called DCIS. My world was getting pinker. My doctor (one of two surgeons that I have come to adore) told me at that point that I would need a lumpectomy, probably followed by radiation treatments. However, because of my family history with breast cancer, and my age (56), he recommended that I have an MRI to make sure there was nothing that they may have missed. So I had the MRI and it showed additional areas of DCIS on the same side. The other side showed nothing abnormal going on.
My doctor now told me that because there was more than one area of this non-invasive cancer on that side, he could not guarantee to get it all out with a lumpectomy, and he recommended a simple mastectomy. He also suggested that I think about having a double, or bilateral mastectomy, again, because of my family history and my age. So, after discussing everything with my husband, and my parents and sisters, and a couple of good friends who have been through this, I decided to be brave, to be proactive, to think about my future health and to have the whole thing done...both sides now, as they say. I want to be sure to let you know, this was a very personal decision, and it is not necessarily the right one for everyone, but it was for me. You should always discuss your own situation with your doctor.
My husband and I also interviewed several highly recommended plastic surgeons and decided on one amazingly talented doctor, who has made this entire process so much easier for me to get through. My husband especially enjoyed the meeting we had to discuss breast implants, as you can imagine. This doctor injected just the right amount of humor into the discussion, so that we both felt completely at ease and not embarrassed. It could have easily gone another direction. I told my husband that he now has something in common with Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks (other than being handsome and funny)...his wife will now have undergone the same surgery as their wives and he will be taking care of me, just like they took care of Angelina and Rita. As it turns out, both of my surgeons are Chiefs of Surgery in their specialty areas at the hospital that I chose. I have been VERY well taken care of by these two and their staffs.
Now, remember, all of this time (February through May) I was coming to work and not telling anyone anything....going on air, doing my shows with a smile. Thank goodness I am able to "compartmentalize" things in my brain, and was able to just concentrate on my shows and act like everything was fine. I would sometimes actually collapse into a chair in my dressing room at the end of my shift, so I could pull it together for meetings or just to walk down the hall to the cafeteria. I think I must have done a good job of fooling everyone, because when I finally told the Host team in a meeting shortly before I went out on leave, everyone was shocked. We all started crying. Everyone was so scared for me and I can tell you, David Venable's big bear hug was exactly what I needed at that moment. I have such a WONDERFUL family at QVC. The best people on the planet.
I left work on the last day of May and I had my surgery on June 9th and returned home a couple of days later. Many prayers and two very talented surgeons later, everything went perfectly.
Along with my husband, my parents were here, as well as two of my sisters. Siobain (the buyer for Denim and Co), who is like a sister to me, came each day to the hospital. My dear friend, Carolyn Pollack, also came to see me while I was there. After I got home, the first two weeks were pretty rough...I will spare you the details....but I had lots of wonderful caregivers here, both human and furry, to help get me through.
My fellow hosts have been an amazing support group. They have cooked me the most delicious homemade meals (which Nancy Hornback, who is also a breast cancer survivor, has so kindly delivered to my door on several occasions)... Shawn Killinger organized a group of the hosts to send us healthy, yummy Blue Apron meals, which I can now cook at home myself. The hosts send me wonderful messages every day to cheer me up! My good friend, and Social partner, Kaitlin, sent over a super fun care package and has also been taking over my FB page for me while I've been out, to post fun and interesting things for me. I have received the most beautiful flower arrangements from so many thoughtful, caring folks...family, friends and co-workers.
My amazing step-daughter, Erin, comes to the house every single day after work to check on me and help me with pet care. I am forever grateful to her. I've heard from my dear high school and college pals, my California pals, my radio pals. I have received many beautiful get well cards from the kindest people...I have them all displayed on my family room mantel.
And of course the messages from all of you on my Facebook page, which have shown me such overwhelming kindness and caring. I can't even begin to tell you how special you have made me feel and how loved. I am so humbled by your care and concern.
So, how am I doing now? Great! I just got off the phone with my sunshine pal, Phillip Watson, and as I told him, I believe the worst is over for me. At least, the scariest part is behind me.
I am currently undergoing the reconstruction process, which, in my case, will take a couple of months. I should be able to return in late August. I am very fortunate that the cancer I had was found really early, thanks to getting my regular mammogram, and that it was non-invasive. If I had waited, or had skipped my mammogram, the non-invasive cancer could have turned into something much worse. Because I was proactive and had it removed and opted for the bilateral mastectomy, and because nothing invasive was found in the post-surgical pathology tests, I am now considered cancer free. I will not need chemo or radiation. I am very lucky. Many cancer patients have to go through much worse than me. Their bravery and grace are my inspiration. God Bless them.
My message to all of you is to please TAKE CARE OF YOU. It is so hard for us women to do that simple thing. We always worry about everyone else and put ourselves at the back of the line. Please start today, to change that mindset. I know sometimes we may put off going to the doctor for one reason or another there’s no reason not to. There is every reason to take care of yourself. That husband, those kids, grandkids, furry kids and friends. All those who love and need you in their life, would agree with me. Be brave. Be smart. THINK PINK.
It's still my favorite color. If you need or want any additional information about breast cancer, a wonderful source of information is www.breastcancer.org.
My love to you all and I'll be back on your favorite QVC programs before you know it!
Thank you again for all of your kind thoughts and prayers. I am going to be fine. Better than new!
See you soon--
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