Judy Blume opens up about breast cancer battle
In a detailed blog entry on Wednesday, beloved author Judy Blume reveals that she's spent the summer battling breast cancer.
The entry, bearing the title "!@#$% Happens," walks fans through Blume's diagnosis and her subsequent decision to have a mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
Writing with an approachable frankness and wit readers will instantly recognize, Blume explains that a routine ultrasound in June revealed that she needed a core biopsy, and that she needed it soon - not after she returned from a trip to Italy where she hoped to complete her new book.
Within the next few days, Blume was hit with the news that she had "invasive ductal carcinoma." The author was understandably shocked and left questioning how such a diagnosis could occur:
"There's no breast cancer in my family (recent extensive genetic testing shows no genetic connection)," she writes. "I haven't eaten red meat in more than 30 years. I've never smoked, I exercise every day, forget alcohol -- it's bad for my reflux -- I've been the same weight my whole adult life. How is this possible? Well, guess what -- it's possible."
The diagnosis led to a string of decisions, with the first being to opt for a mastectomy and reconstruction, then to choose whether to apply the surgery to both breasts, and finally to go with whatever reconstruction option would "make the surgery easiest on me, [and] give a decent result."
One of her characters even found its way into the conversation, as Blume mentions that, like Margaret Simon from the classic novel, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," she too has "small breasts." And , "Like Margaret, I used to think bigger was better," she writes, "but my dense, small breasts aged well."
(On her first visit to the breast surgeon, Blume recalled telling the doctor that "the exercises didn't work for me," although she's "not sure she got my attempt at a joke.")
Now, one month after surgery, Blume is in New York and "feeling stronger every day."
In closing, she writes that she's joined "The Club," as she's relayed to friends who've also faced breast cancer:
"[N]ot one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining -- but here I am. I'm part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you're not alone, and scary though it is, there's a network of amazing women to help you through it."