Monday, May 10, 2010

The C Word...

contributed by Alice Kondraciuk (Lil' Sis of the Queen)

They say you will never forget the day when you were told. I couldn’t agree more.

I remember rushing out the door as I usually did to get to class. This time was different – I had to stop at the doctor’s office first for the results. I wasn’t too concerned; my mom had the same type of biopsy done six months earlier for the same concern, and all was fine. So off I went to the doctor and work. Driving in Michigan usually means an SUV and at least one highway – my route had to win the all time prize for crappiness, with five highways, 44 miles and an hour drive each way.

As if on autopilot, I completely missed my freeway change leading to the doctor’s office and was headed straight for the school. My interns called with a problem and needed help with the servers and student computers. Damn! I have to turn around, and I cannot get off the freeway for five miles. Great! I just love it when I miss an exit.

As I pulled into the doctor’s office, I noticed my Mom’s car in the lot. My sister Rose and I have the same doctor, and she had an appointment before mine. I was late, so just waved to my Mom and rushed into the door. I was surprised they were still there since I was late, and the staff was very nice about the whole thing. Rose was still there in the waiting room, too. I thought, “Oh good, she hadn’t been seen yet, so I’m safe.”

Actually, she said she just wanted a chance to say hello to me because she hardly gets to see me anymore.

“How nice,” I thought.

I was called in immediately. The doctor checked my stitches and said to get dressed and come to his office. Then he looked at me and said we did not get the results we wanted. We need to talk about what happens next. My whole world started moving in slow motion, and a wave of emotions came over me. Wait! I said my sister was just in the lobby, can I please go get her? Oh my god. I don’t want her to leave.

“She won’t leave,” the doctor said. “We told her to stay. We told her that you would need her.”

Now her being here made more sense. Rose and I sat down in the doctor’s office where he delivered the news. As she held my hand, the words were spoken. It was very surreal.

“You have Cancer. You are young. You are probably curable.”


“You have an extensive amount of DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (non-invasive) and some Invasive cancer, as well.”

Apparently, it’s very rare to have both.

I am a Stage IIA Breast Cancer survivor. I am currently under treatment and looking forward to reconstructive surgery in the coming months. My goal is share my story in a series of articles about how this all affected my life. I invite you all to do the same I would really love to hear from you any and all of you especially if you are a survivor, caregiver or have been affected in any way by Cancer. I also plan to share the choices I have made about my treatment and what I am doing to fight back. I look forward to our conversations. Thanks for listening.


  1. Still makes me cry remembering this day. Watching you fight, struggling with the decision you had to make and the miracle that we discovered after your surgery...I have no choice but to believe that God was there with you. The strength and courage you have displayed since we found out you had Cancer... makes me so very proud to be your big sister.

    I love you, Al.

  2. Alice,

    I never knew you went through this. Jerry never told me. Remembering how strong of a person you are and the loving family you have around you I'm sure helped you get through this. My mom is a survivor as well and I wish she wasn't so seclusive so I could talk to her about it. oh well. Anyways I'm glad it all worked out for you. Wishing you the best.

    Jay Karwoski

  3. Thank you so much Jay. I am so glad your Mom is okay. I have been seclusive at times as well. I understand that feeling really. You feel really alone at times...when everyone else is going on with their day to day lives. You feel a little isolated. Just always be sure to tell your Mom that you love her and you are here for her.

  4. Thank you Rose, I love you.

  5. OMG!!! My heart just sank reading this. I know you are very strong, always have been and always will be. You are forever in my thoughts and prayers.

    Lisa Kolbusz DeFelice

  6. Thank you, Lisa. I hope you and your boys are doing well.

  7. Alice,

    I'm so heartbroken for you. I just want to give you a big hug. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Lisa Beach

  8. What do you mean you are not a good writer? This drew me right in, very compelling, apart from the emotion conveyed. If you were not my friend, I would be so intrigued. Because we are, the work takes on a different meaning. I look forward to reading all of your installments. I think you have found another calling. You will be very imspirational for people.

  9. inspirational, sorry. BTW, it's Jen

  10. My heart isn't broken for you - it's full! Glad you can write about it and hope that you have a long time to work it out!

    Love ya,

  11. Thank you all for the wonderful comments! I love you all!

  12. Thanks Jen...that means a lot.

  13. God Bless you Alice... Thanks so much for sharing. I am shocked because I didn't know and choked up with emotion. Now I feel stupid for not making my yearly mammogram appt. was due in Feb. Thanks for the wake up call. I look forward to your next blog. With Love your cousin Shari

  14. Hello Alice. I'm a friend of your sister from back in her earlier blogging days.

    I too overcame cancer, in my case, melanoma. It came into my life one day in September 1973 when I was sitting under a hot Middle East sun in Jerusalem, watching a parade of the Israel Defense Forces, but without adequate protection against the sun coming down from behind me. On the bus ride back to the city of Netanya, on the Mediterranean coast, I felt the sunburn behind my right ear. But that went away, and I thought nothing of it.

    Until some 13 years later, when my wife looked behind my right ear and saw a dark round spot that she had never seen before. A careful medical exam, including a biopsy, showed I had picked up level one melanoma (still surficial, nothing yet invasive). That was the first of an eight-year series of minor operations, culminating in a skin graft in late 1994, that got rid of the whole of it. Now, I have a careful head to toe examination each year by a staff dermatologist at the medical clinic where I have my health maintainance coverage.

    So at least some forms of cancer, if attended to early, can be defeated.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  15. Hi Arnold, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am glad your wife noticed the melanoma and you had it taken care of...I am also glad you are staying on top of it.

    I am sure mine will be fine, as well. As long as breast cancer is found early, it is likely curable. So for now, I just have a waiting game and will find out if I am all clear in few months.

  16. Thanks so much for taking the time and energy to write this, Alice. I'm counting on being able to read years and years of your blog, so here's to getting this behind you as soon as possible. I'm so glad you're writing and sharing with us and know also that it's a wonderful way for you to feel all the love that surrounds you. Hugs and love, Marti