Where HAVE you been???

So, did you miss me?  I mean, like even realize that I have not posted anything for a long time?

My co-authors, Michael and Karen, have done a great job giving you some excellent things to read.  And, heck, they didn’t even know what was going on with me.  Thanks, guys!

Well, here’s the short of it.  You can bet that the long of it will be coming!

On 5 December 2012, I found out I very likely had cancer in my left breast.  On 30 November, I had had mammograms and an ultrasound, and my BIRAD score (probability of cancer) came back as a 5.  That means, in radiological terms, more than a 95% chance that the lesion/lump is malignant and that steps need to be taken with haste.  The ultrasound and films also showed something suspicious in my right breast (BIRAD score 4).

Now hastily is not the way things happen down here in Mexico a lot of times, particularly when your only insurance is IMSS (the Mexican-government subsidized insurance plan).  First of all, IMSS is a bureaucracy and we pretty much all know how speedily bureaucrats handle things.  And, second, IMSS is pretty much overwhelmed in terms of demand for services.

While my private doctor in Joco, Dra. Claudia, and the radiologist in Guadalajara, Dr. Banuelos, both said I needed the areas biopsied immediately, likely followed by a mastectomy of the left breast, their definition of immediately and that of IMSS varied considerably.   Dra. Claudia and Dr. Banuelos meant within a week.  IMSS apparently meant some time within the next year or so.

On 6 December 2012, I started my IMSS journey.  And after many, many, many visits to the IMSS hospital in Tlajomulco (about a 70-minute one-way drive from here) and tests done both here in Jocotepec and in Chapala, I had my biopsies and surgery done on 29 January 2013.  Seemed like forever to me, but others who have dealt with IMSS are pretty much in agreement that it was done with amazing rapidity.

I just did not feel like blogging about what was going on at the time and, in fact, I didn’t even tell most of my friends.  But now I’m ready to tell you some of my adventures along the way.

For the record, I DID have breast cancer, but I still have both boobs, although I’m short some lymph nodes on the left side.  And I’m waiting to hear what the next step is (i.e. radiation, chemo, both, or nothing).

So that’s where I’ve been!  Sure is nice to be back!


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
This entry was posted in Bureaucracy, Getting Older, Lake Chapala, Medical and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Where HAVE you been???

  1. asleepinjoco says:

    You are my hero! Actually, anyone who stays in tune with their health. detects cancer early and doesn’t wait for it to magically go away is my hero, so don’t let it go to your head.

    I too am a “Big C” survivor, Lymphoma 12 years ago this year. Long uninteresting story. You stay on top of those pesky little cancer cells!!

    Also, glad to hear you were able to fast-track IMSS on this. Going through the Tlajomulco system IS a pain-in-the-azz, especially when you’re either in pain or otherwise dealing with a major medical condition. You “dun good” getting your own Dr. involved. Often it’s a call from your Dr. or possibly the Radiologist in this case that tips the scales into your favor. Personally I dropped IMSS this past year after dealing with the local clinic-Tlajomulco Hospital on another issue. Everyone’s got to find there own best solution down here. I get a kick out of he folks who say “it’s only $10,000 pesos a month for private medical insurance. Eh? What’s $10,000 pesos a month between friends?


    • Barbara says:

      Mike, the real heroes in this story are my friends. i was just the sick one! (i won’t say “patient” because it so belies what i actually was during those weeks.)

      and as i mentioned in response to my friend Sheila, my personal doctors never got involved past the original diagnosis. my relationship with them was so short-lived that i didn’t feel as if i could call upon them. perhaps i should have.

      i was fortunate to have a little bit of money available to get some of my tests done privately instead of having to go to Tlajomulco for every single one. i cannot even imagine what it’s like for folks who can’t do that and who don’t have a private vehicle to get them to a hospital that’s so far away.

      but i’ll take the hugs!!

  2. Gaby says:

    Barb, I just KNEW that was happening with you. I’m so sorry you chose to go thru all that alone, but the really good news is that you DID get thru it. It’s totally great to have you back again. Love…

    • Barbara says:

      Gaby, trust me, i didn’t go through this ALONE! just ask my poor frazzled, put upon, sick of my whining and bitching friends! (you won’t have to ask them, i’ll try to tell you some of their stories and reactions!)

  3. Kathi says:

    Barb is the winner here! We’re all behind you…..and will make sure you do what you’re supposed to do!

    • Barbara says:

      without kathi and my other friends here…in particular, jonnie, phyllis, sher, and mari…it probably STILL would not have happened! lots and lots more folks to thank as well and i’ll be getting to that in more detail!

  4. You did have virgins & angels with ya- they know a good broad when they see one! Well done!

  5. Sheila Poole says:

    Great to read of your “speedy” service with IMSS. It does pay to have your own private doctor involved. Best wishes for a great recovery, Barb.

    • Barbara says:

      sheila, my own private doctor(s) never got involved once i got the original diagnosis. i’ll go into more detail along the way! it was my friends who got so involved!

  6. Karen says:

    Barb, indeed, it is nice to have you back! And to hear what seems to be good news. Thanks for updating us all!

  7. Lawrence Shirley says:

    I hope good news continues. Thanks for the report.

  8. Joe Haussmann says:

    I am glad to hear that things are progressing well. Hopefully the treatment procedures you follow are not too taxing. Your friends did do a good job blogging for you, my sister pointed out to me that you were not writing them.

  9. Joe Jensen says:

    VERY glad to have you back honey badger……give ’em hell!!

  10. BarbaraHopkins20@yahoo.com says:

    Barb, I am so sorry to hear of your health problems. Please rest assured that I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers! Keep the faith and I’m sure everything will work out! 🙂

  11. wyotoad says:

    Barb, I was saddened to hear about the cancer. But am very glad that they were able to attack it and get it out. Hang in there through the rest of the process and keep us informed. How long will the chemo and radiation last assuming they have to be done?

    • Barbara says:

      i see the oncologist (NOT the oncology surgeon) on valentine’s day and will maybe know more then. trust me, the info will be coming!

  12. Joyce Raburn says:

    Hey, Barbara. I am shocked and sorry to hear of your diagnosis.

    I’ve been so busy getting settled here in Frisco, Texas, that I hardly even look at emails these days, but am so glad I did today. You are one brave and rockin’ woman who so does not deserve to be experiencing this. Your guile, smarts, charm and sense of humor will help you get through this. It also doesn’t hurt that you have friends like Kathi, Jonnie and Sher (the ones you mentioned that I know).

    You will be in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there, and pease keep us posted.


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