Machel's Ranch

My scary ordeal under the cancer microscope

I found a red blotch on my breast on Christmas Day. I didn’t think much about it. I figured it occurred because of an irritation from my sports bra. I do, on occasion, go for a good run. However, after one week back in Iowa, I became concerned when it did not fade. So, just like most people, I “Googled” my concern on the Internet. Have you heard of inflammatory breast cancer? I hadn’t either until this experience. It’s a rare breast cancer disease that is often misdiagnosed because it cannot be found by a mammogram or your typical routine breast exam at home. The good news is this disease is very rare … only one of the symptoms happened to be what I had discovered on Christmas Day. Gosh, can you say “Doctor!” immediately? In the doctor’s room, I found the brown eyes of a woman doctor looking down at my breasts. This doctor was searching for truth. She was doing her job. I laid there thinking about my son and how he still needs a mother and how breast cancer does not run in my family. I thought about all of those that I loved. I laid there thinking about my past, present and future. Had I been a good enough person? Our eyes connected for a moment. I knew she could sense my fear, because she looked away at that moment. She searched my body for traces of cancer and I felt desperately afraid. How brave this doctor must be to do this every day, I thought. I laid across on this hard examining bed, exposed. I clutched the religious medals that I wear around my neck, feeling so lucky to have faith in something more than just this life I can see. The doctor looked into my eyes again, then back at my “suspicious” area. Then she fired off a series of questions that seemed to carry a life or death sentence. I answered each of them honestly, feeling more terrified than I did before. After the exam was over, I found out I had to wait one more week for another test to see if I was out of the woods. That night I tucked my son into bed just like every other school night. But after this experience, I had become hypersensitive to my normal routine. Every moment felt so precious and fleeting. I stared at him hoping I would be lucky enough to see him grow old. I walked around during the next seven days feeling touched by all of my friends and loved ones.
The next week, I drove back out to my doctor for my appointment. With my nerves I felt like I was going to be sick, so I called one of my girlfriends. “You’re going to be fine. If something is wrong, you can beat it.” Yes, I have to think positive. What would we do without girlfriends? I’m serious. There is a reason why “Sex and the City” became a popular show in the 1990s.
Finally, my moment had arrived: “You don’t have breast cancer,” the new male doctor said. “Have you heard of dermatitis?”
“No, but I like the sound of it,” I thought.
“You are going to be fine, the blotch is already faded,” he said. I went away thinking about the other doctors. Maybe they were just taking the “better to be safe than sorry approach,” for which I am grateful their thoroughness. How wonderful to finally be out from the cancer microscope, which lasted almost four weeks.
We are sometimes presented with obstacles in life we cannot understand. However, in each difficulty we must rise above and find the blessing inside the problem. Take this moment and make a heartfelt wish for those who have terminal diseases or are caring for loved ones that do. My thoughts are and prayers are with you.

Around Town
On Jan. 8, I received an e-mail from a reader of my column, Jonathon Hayes. First, let me say thanks for reading and second for putting me up to your challenge. Mr. Hayes runs Medi-Zone, a weight-loss business in Encinitas. His program is based on Dr. Barry Sears popular diet “The Zone.’ Even though I work out on a regular basis and feel good about the way I look, I decided to take Mr. Hayes’ challenge of putting his program to the test. Beginning at the end of this month, I am going to participate in this experiment to see if diets like this really do work. He has offered me his services free! Stay tuned. At the end of February, I will give you the details on my progress either way. Wish me luck.
On Jan. 15, the Art Guild at Rancho Santa Fe celebrated their latest exhibit “Expressionism.” I spoke to one of Rancho Santa Fe’s top artists, Bob Snell. In his words, “It’s one of the best I’ve seen here at the Art Guild.”  Call their office at (858) 759-3545 and ask for Pam, for more information. They were kind enough to let me snap a shot for my column of one of the beautiful paintings. “Expressionism” will be on exhibit though Feb. 28. Support the local artists of the Ranch and stop by before you miss this wonderful contribution to art in your neighborhood.
On Jan. 17, I found out one of Rancho Santa Fe’s residents, Don Drefus, had passed away. My sympathy goes out to his loved ones and family. I was lucky enough to know Mr. Drefus for the last three years. He was a local resident that visited the piano bar at Mille Fleurs. Don loved to go in on Friday nights and listen to Randy Beecher play. On a few different occasions, Don would join my friends and me at our table. He reminisced about his wife that he still loved that had died and then give us fabulous advice for our own lives. He always drank a tall cranberry juice, while sitting at the piano with a pleasant expression. He was always so kind to me. What a gentleman. When I heard the news that he had passed away at Christmas time, I must say I was saddened by the loss. I count myself lucky to have met Don Drefus during the last years of his long life. He will be missed by many.
On Jan. 20, I stopped into one of my favorite spots, Thyme in the Ranch. Most of you might think of this as the place you must stand in line to buy your food before you sit down. What you may not know is there is a wonderful employee Eutinio “Tony” Hernandez that is there to get you any extras after you might not feel like waiting in line, again. He’ll bring more coffee, tea or even that extra cookie you might have missed. Tony has been working there for more than three years and is one of the reasons I like to stop in at Thyme in the Ranch. What more can you ask for than a fabulous coffee break and bright smiles to get you through your day?
On Jan. 21, I snapped a photo of a police officer handing out a ticket near the Village Market. A warning to the neighborhood, make sure you come to a complete stop at all of the stop signs in Rancho Santa Fe! The police have been out in full force issuing tickets to those who are guilty of the “California Sushi Roll” (a coined phrase for not making a complete stop).
On Jan. 27, the Association is holding a meeting for all residents interested in the “Lilian Project.” A large sign has been placed in front of the Village Market to inform residents of the meeting. “If you care about the Village and you are a Covenant resident, make an effort to attend this meeting,” is what the sign says in big bold letters. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Association office. For more details, go the market and read the informative sign. What impressed me the most was the artistry and effort that went into making this poster.
On Jan. 30, look for strawberries at Lemon Twist on Del Dios Highway. Do you remember the flower/shop fruit stand that burnt down during the Witch Creek Fire in 2007? Strawberries and other goodies will be available at least two days a week! Look for me, down near Cielo. I will be there to greet you with a smile.


tracy~ January 29, 2009 at 7:02 pm

hey machelly…
good writes…glad
you be fine…

love, tracy

Sacha Boutros January 30, 2009 at 12:23 am


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