By Molly MartinA FEW WEEKS after being diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 1990, I told my editor here at Pacific Northwest that I might want to write about the experience for the Sunday magazine. So Betty Udesen, our staff photographer at the time, began accompanying me on many medical visits as well as everyday activities.
The resulting photographs and article were published 10 years ago this weekend. In the years since then, we've received many requests for copies of that issue. We had no Web site at that time the World Wide Web was only a year old! but now, on this anniversary, the original package can be found here, along with some previously unpublished photos, audio captions and a new list of resources on breast cancer and cancer in general.
Much has changed since the article first appeared. Scientists are better at identifying genetic markers for breast cancer, to help people understand their risks and options. Patients sometimes have chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment before undergoing surgery. New drugs are being developed seemingly every week, and old ones constantly re-evaluated. When I began taking tamoxifen, for example, it was for an indefinite period, but after a few years, research determined that patients did best when they stopped it after five years.
Sometimes I can no longer recall the names of the chemotherapy drugs I took, which I find an encouraging sign. My hair is nearly back to its pre-chemo length. I've been healthy enough to resume playing basketball, and injured enough to realize maybe it's time to give it up. I had one bout with a swelling left arm from lymphedema, related to the missing lymph nodes on that side, after surgery for an arm broken while body-surfing. Torben and I got married. My mother, who was inspiring throughout my cancer experience (not to mention the rest of my life), passed away three years ago at age 82, never having a recurrence of the breast cancer she got in her early 40s and thus, still an inspiration. Go to story
Molly Martin is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine.