Cake Decorating And Breast Cancer

Business By handymama Updated 14 May 2013 , 3:06am by sassy89sweets

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handymama Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 5:16am
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Maybe some of you remember that for a year now I've been planning and building my new, licensed (almost) bakery onto the back of my garage. I've been doing all of the finish work myself the last two months, with time off for the ICES Convention, and now just need to do the tile backsplash to be ready for all of the final inspections. My Ag. inspector should be here in the next couple of weeks.
A few days ago I was told I have breast cancer. The surgeon said it's DCIS, practically not cancer at all, and that after he removes it I might not even need radiation. That was yesterday. Today while talking to the center that did my biopsy I learned that it's more advanced than he said, even though I'd been incredibly distinct in communicating to him and every other professional I've seen that I'm an information junkie and it's crucial that I be informed--in detail--about everything they know, everything they suspect, and what the possible courses of action are.
Tonight I got a copy of my pathology report and found that everybody has been lying to me. It isn't "not really a cancer"; it's an intermediate stage with fast-growing cells that are about to break loose--if they haven't already (there are other suspicious areas). On top of that there's cancer in the lobules, not just the duct--BIG, BIG difference, and again not a word from anyone even though they were looking at that very report.
Ok, I could go on but I'm ranting and I apologize. Back to the title of my post. Depending on the extent of my surgery, which I now have no clue how radical it will be, what is this going to do to my arm? I'm right-handed and this is my right breast. If you've had breast cancer surgery and still decorate, how extensive was your surgery? Has it limited what you can do? I'm especially concerned about being able to knead and roll out fondant, but there's also the fact that these cakes are heavy! Please somebody tell me your story.

27 replies
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ccr03 Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 5:25am
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I so can not help you, but I'll pray for you!

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mommyle Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 5:30am
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Holy cow! I really am at a loss for words.
Please take time for yourself. I have a good friend who just kicked breast cancer in the butt, but I think that your case is ENTIRELY different. That being said, I think that EVERY case is entirely different.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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varika Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 5:33am
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My aunt had hers removed, and I don't believe it caused her much hassle in the long run. As long as the cancer hasn't spread into muscle tissue, then you'll probably be fine. I mean, you'll have a recovery period like you do with any surgery, of course. But you probably won't have limited mobility past your recovery period.

May I also suggest you get a new oncologist, posthaste?

*big, big, big hugs*

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auntiecake Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 5:39am
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I worked at a cancer center and never saw anyone that had an arm damaged by the surgery. My SIL had cancer in the same area you are talking and she doesn't have a problem moving her arm or lifting. The only problem is she had after the surgery is swelling in the breast area and did therapy for that. It has gotten significantly better and this doesn't always happen. My other SIL had a radical mysectomy and she doesn't have trouble with her arm either. You will probably have some healing time, but it shouldn't be long term if at all. Remember don't take what someone else says though because every case is different and we all heal differently. Just take one day at a time and my thoughts and prayers are with you. I had thyroid cancer last summer and my son had lymphoma when he was 10 and is now 34. There is so much they can do now, so keep a positive attitude and fight it. Let me know how you are doing or if you want to rant I'm here. [email protected]

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handymama Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 6:25am
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Thank you very much, and yes I do so appreciate the prayers. It seems that the arm is affected more by removal of axilliary (sp?) lymph nodes than anything. The literature I have warns about lots of things that have to be avoided for life after those nodes are messed with, and heavy lifting is one of them. Anyone care to define "heavy lifting"? I'm 55 and commonly hoist 40-50 pounds. If I have full strength for fondant work that will help a lot, but gosh darn it that's my hammering/drilling/troweling/weeding/lifting/endless cornelli-lacing arm!

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nickshalfpint Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 7:01am
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You are in my prayers.

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miny Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 7:24am
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Keep a positive attitude, remember that life is full of problems but God is always our problem solver. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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Bijoudelanuit Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 11:52am
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My Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer last October. She had her sugery, did chemo and radiation and is doing fabulously! She doesn't decorate cakes, but she is an avid gardener/canner, she also bakes breads and is an all around hard worker and it's not slowed her or changed anything in the long run! The only difference I see between last summer and now is that her hair is shorter!

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers! Much love to you and your family!

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littlecake Posted 22 Aug 2008 , 2:31pm
post #10 of 28

i'm praying for you handymamma.....

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dawncr Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 3:23am
post #11 of 28

Just what you needed now, right? icon_sad.gif

You are to be commended for your engagement in your own diagnosis and treatment. Some persons are so overwhelmed, they don't want to hear all the details, and they just let the doc decide everything.

I'd guess that fatigue will be the symptom that has the biggest impact on you over the next year, rather than any long-term nervous or muscular issue. The surgery and/or other treatments, the logistics/mechanics of spending time in medical care, and the emotional stress can deplete you. Take good care of yourself by being careful not to over-commit to too many cakes.

Everyone here at CC will be here for you, so don't hesitate to post.

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handymama Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 2:06pm
post #12 of 28

Very wise insight and good advice, Dawn. Thank you.

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moreCakePlz Posted 23 Aug 2008 , 3:50pm
post #13 of 28

Take heart, handymama, this is a beatable disease. I havenât had it myself, but in the last two years my great aunt (103 years old), my aunt (72 years old) and four women at work have been diagnosed with various stages of breast cancer. Two had mastectomies, three had lymph nodes removed, and all had chemo (red devil) and radiation. And you know what? ALL OF THEM ARE DOING FINE.

This was the second occurrence for my aunt (she had a double mastectomy 25 years ago), and her last radiation treatment was two weeks ago. She is almost back to her old self. She is tired and a little burned where she received the radiation, but she is back in her garden lifting potted plants and lugging around big bags of mud.

So keep working on your kitchen. And when youâre ready to make cakes again, your bright, shiny new kitchen will be waiting for you!

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handymama Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 1:31pm
post #14 of 28

I had a partial mastectomy on the 29th of August, and the current piece of yuck was successfully removed. I still have a very sore booby, but I'm back to all of my usual activities. I've found that it's very difficult to get accurate--or even any--information from my surgeon, and that info from other doctors/sources is conflicting. The bottom line seems to be that I'm in a high risk group for recurrence, and that of those that do have a recurring cancer 50% are invasive. Gross. My family Dr. is sending me to U of M cancer center to try to get some more definitive information (I live at the tip of the little finger in Michigan; U of M is about 4 hrs. downstate).
On the plus side my bakery is 99% done and I've started moving things in. My inspector can't get here until Sept. 29th, but told me on the phone that if I have cakes to do it's fine to go ahead and do business--so I'm at least quasi-legal! I think I've talked to her on the phone and asked questions so much that she knows how totally anal I am, and she just assumes it's all up to code. I have no orders, but frankly I've been so busy building and dealing with cancer that I'm not sure I even remember how to do a cake. At least I still remember that I like doing them! So for now I try to continue on with life without cancer/cancer treatment/cancer doctors consuming my every waking and sleeping thought--but it's not easy.
I'll try to post a couple of photos of my bakery in the next day or so. In the past I've never successfully uploaded to a post, but there's always a first time!



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chutzpah Posted 14 Sep 2008 , 1:39pm
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I'm thinking of you.

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nickdrewnjaysmom Posted 16 Sep 2008 , 10:27pm
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I am so sorry you are dealing with this..Please check this site out..Read about iodine and breast cancer!!!!!

Hope this helps!


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handymama Posted 16 Sep 2008 , 10:36pm
post #17 of 28

Just found out today that I did not have clear margins, as my surgeon had told me (I've now fired him). I go next week to the University of Michigan for a second opinion and may be looking at more surgery. Gross.

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mandifrye Posted 16 Sep 2008 , 10:46pm
post #18 of 28

I am sorry that you are going through this, but you can beat it with the help of God, family and friends.

My mom is a breast cancer survivor of 25 years now. icon_lol.gif She had a complete mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Her cancer was serious and she did have some muscle removed, as well as all of the lymph nodes in her arms. So, being ancient surgery techniques as compared to today, she has some extensive scarring. She still even has silicone!! icon_eek.gif Sad to say, because of the nodes and muscles removal, she does have a problem lifting weight over her head, but she can raise her arms just fine. She can also lift fine.

You will have down time, and be sure to take it easy during this time. If you try to do too much too early, you will only extend the healing process.

You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

God bless you and your family.

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sari66 Posted 17 Sep 2008 , 1:34am
post #19 of 28

Handymama, I'm sorry that you are going thru this but it is curable. My Mom had this same dx and she had surgery twice as her margins weren't clear and they won't start any type of treatment without it. I'm glad that you asked so many questions and that you have now fired your Dr. as anyone who can't be honest about your cancer is someone you don't want on your team.
As for your work you should have no issues as long as you give yourself plenty of time to heal.
If you have any questions please feel free to ask as in my former life I was a LPN icon_smile.gif


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handymama Posted 17 Sep 2008 , 1:53pm
post #20 of 28

Thanks Sari, that's encouraging. Also, congrats on your weight loss!

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handymama Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 3:16pm
post #21 of 28

An update: I went to U of M Medical Center for a second opinion, and the Dr. there said I should have additional surgery to remove the scattered microcalcifications that were left behind. I now have two surgeons giving me polar opposite opinions. I lean towards the "better safe than sorry" philosophy, but hey! I'm running out of "tissue samples" to contribute! It's not like it grows back.
On the bright side, my bakery is finished except for moving in and organizing cake toys. We passed the final building inspection yesterday, and I have an appointment on Monday with the Dept. of Ag. inspector. I have no orders, no customers, and almost no idea how to actually conduct business. It's scary since I'm not really sure where to set prices or how to present myself as a professional when I'm just starting out.

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nickshalfpint Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 4:57pm
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I was thinking of you last night. I was wondering how you were doing. And when I got on the computer I had an email to this thread icon_biggrin.gif . Everything will fall into place. What ever you do don't stress (sooooooo much easier said than done). Please keep us updated on you and your bakery. <3 Kristen

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sweetideas Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 5:18pm
post #23 of 28

Congrats on your final inspection!! I live between Detroit and A2 and had my DD at U of M in Feb. She was born with several issues and they have been the BEST there. (Aggravating sometimes, but her treatment has been top notch--she's doing beautifully). I am thinking about you and hope you get some good news soon. I only wish I had the talent to open a business, I just do it for the love of it. I love Traverse City and if I am up that way anytime soon I will order a cake from you! icon_smile.gif

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alvarezmom Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 6:27pm
post #24 of 28

handymamma I'm glad to hear that your back at home and your kitchen is complete. I'll keep my fingers cross and hope that all goes well with the inspector on the 29th.

I'll be praying for you. When I read your post I just wanted to cry and then give you a big hug. I'm so moved when ppl hear they have cancer and do not let "odd" influence what their out come will be. My mother died of cancer about 14 years ago. I'm happy to hear that you fired your Dr. My mother had a BAD Dr. Who at first thoguht she was crazy and wanted to have her commited when she was telling him "something is wrong with me". After they found the cancer in early July she passed away the following May. I believe in my heart that if she had had a diffrent Dr that should would have had a better chance of beating cancer. If a Dr is telling you something and you feel in your heart there has to be more look for a second opinion and a third and fourth until you are happy with what you are hearing!

NEVER STOP FIGHTING!!!! I pray you have a speedy recovery!

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nickshalfpint Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 6:38pm
post #25 of 28

I completely agree with alvarezmom's post. The last obgyn I had gave me a weird feeling. My husband felt the same way. I should've went with my gut feeling. My Dad had liver cancer for 5-7 years before they diagnosed it. Boy did that PISS me off icon_mad.gificon_evil.gificon_mad.gificon_evil.gificon_mad.gificon_evil.gif !!! He went to the doctor once a month for diabetes and complained about a weird abdominal pain for 3 years and they kept giving him muscle relaxers the help with the pain instead of figuring out what it was icon_mad.gif . Ok, I will stop complaining now.....
I'm so glad you went with your gut feeling and saw another doctor.

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sari66 Posted 25 Sep 2008 , 11:35pm
post #26 of 28

handymamma, please have the second surgery no good dr will let you start treament knowing that you still have bad cells about, besides the oncologist shouldn't even try to radiate or chemo you without the clear margines. Bad cells will hide then recurr if they're not removed.
I know that giving more tissue isn't what you want but you do want the cancer gone.
Congrats on your new kitchen!

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DebBTX Posted 26 Sep 2008 , 3:40pm
post #27 of 28

I'm sorry that you have been going through this. It is wonderful that you are now seeing a good Oncologist that you can trust to take care of you.

Congratulations on your new bakery. It will be up and going before you know it.

Take good care of yourself.

-Debbie B.

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sassy89sweets Posted 14 May 2013 , 3:06am
post #28 of 28

Hi! I am wondering how everything worked out for you- 


I was diagnosed Nov 16th; am finishing chemo this Thursday (#6) and will do rads over the summer. 

Wondered if post surgery/treatment did affect your business or not_ 


So far I've been able to continue teaching the Wilton Method at a craft store and make cakes throughout treatment but if you are 4-5 years out are there long term effects you have noticed? 


thank you! 


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