About

diane  mapes - mid chemo - june 2011

Me, mid-treatment in 2011.

I’m currently working as a writer covering public health; cancer prevention and survivorship; new breast cancer research (including mets) and more for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Before that, I was a freelance journalist specializing in health, humor, lifestyle and singles issue and a regular contributor to NBCnews, TODAY, MSN, CNN and a handful of other news sites/publications.

From 2007 to 2009, I wrote a humor column about the single life for the now-defunct daily newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (best gig ever). I’ve also published a couple of books, How to Date in  Post-Dating World and Single State of the Union:  Single Women Speak Out on Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness. More info about my writing (and links to my work) can be found at dianemapes.net.

me wrapping my hands - oct 2012

Me, a year post-treatment in October 2012. Photo courtesy of Jim Seida / NBCNews.com

In February 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer (invasive lobular carcinoma, or ILC, in both breasts) and underwent a double mastectomy two months later. I spent that summer doing chemotherapy (my cocktail was taxotere and cytoxan), followed by seven weeks of near-daily radiation treatments. I finished my breast cancer treatment with one last “rads” blast on November 8, 2011. Since I was diagnosed with ER+/PR+/HER2- breast cancer, I was first put on tamoxifen, an effective targeted treatment that suppresses estrogen; I started taking an AI (aromatase inhibitor) in February 2017.  Pro tip: Exercise, particularly yoga, seems to help with the joint pain.

It took about two years and four surgeries to do it, but I’m currently rocking a new set of reconstructed breasts. I lost some bits in the process due to complications and my chest often feels like I’ve got a couple of cereal bowls behind the muscle, but for the most part, I’m pretty happy with the new girls. Mostly, I’m happy to be done with surgeries and to be out of treatment. And to be healthy, or as we say in Cancerland, to be NED (no evidence of disease).

post-cancer body image of me

Me, post breast cancer treatment and reconstruction, in March 2015. Photo by Robert Hood / Fred Hutch News Service

I’m also happy to be doing what I can to help others who are just starting down this lousy road. I started this blog shortly after my diagnosis as a way to make some sense out of the cancer crap I was going through.  Hopefully, something here will speak to you or answer a question or maybe just help you know that you are most certainly not alone. Thanks for stopping by; I hope you enjoy the ride.

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15 Responses to “About”

  1. pinkpockets November 23, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    I enjoy reading your work! I’m a NW girl (Tacoma) transplanted to the great state of TX. I’m an almost 3 year survivor (did the TC cocktail too!) so feel like we have a lot in common. I’ll be sure to come back more often!

  2. Stephanie December 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Just ran upon your site. Thanks for writing about your journey. Mine started almost 90 days ago. Ready to move on with my life and put this cancer thing behind me.

    • singleshot1 December 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm #

      Thanks for the note, Stephanie, and so sorry to hear you’ve just been inducted into the Cancer Club. The club sucks, but the members are great (as the joke goes). As for you being ready to move on with your life after 90 days on this road, I hear you. In fact, I was ready to move on about 90 minutes after learning I had breast cancer. But I’m still slogging along (all done with treatment, but damned if I’m going to quit before I get my new girls back).

      Keep me posted on your progress, your treatment, your story, etc. And many thanks for stopping by and reading http://www.doublewhammied.com.

  3. Regina Hackett January 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    Hi Sweetheart. One thing cancer can’t take away is your wonderful writer’s voice. Cancer Clown is the best thing I’ve ever read on the subject. Sending you all my love, Regina

    • singleshot1 January 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      Hey Regina:

      Thanks so much for the lovely note and for checking out http://www.doublewhammied. I worried that along with my breasts, the surgeon would somehow remove my sense of humor (and/or inappropriateness), but apparently, they’re both locked in there, along with the writerly stuff. Take care and hope all’s aces with you,

      -Diane

  4. smallswedishwoman February 1, 2012 at 10:39 am #

    Hey there!

    Just found your blog. I like it. And I have to tell you this in confidence, but I read very few cancer blogs. Yes. Cancer sucks. It can even kill you. Mine hasn’t so far. So I can relate and cry and feel empathic. And I do. But I do enjoy reading about other stuff to. Even if you have cancer. Since we hopefully are more than a disease or diagnose. So that is why I Like your blog. And your are funny to.

    Sorry not so coherent today. Must be the rads 🙂

  5. Tanya August 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    Hi Diane,

    Just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your website. You give me hope and courage to fight my stage 3C diagnosis. Almost done with my chemo and on to surgery. I’ve been able to deal with the looming loss of the “girls” as you call them with a bit of humor. Do tell us how you deal with the hormonal issues due to Tamoxifen and the potential weight gain. I keep struggling with my appetite and haven’t even started on Tomoxifen. Thank you 🙂

    • singleshot1 August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      Hey Tanya:

      Thanks so much for the lovely note and so sorry to hear you’ve been inducted into this crappy club (the dues suck, but the members are great). Also huge congrats on being almost done with chemo; you’re probably pretty wrung out right now, but you have made it, darling, and that is huge.

      I’ve actually been thinking a bit about posting something on just the topic you asked about – dealing with tamoxifen and its side effects. Here’s the short version (will do a longer “dance version” later): I don’t have a frigging clue what to do about the weight gain although I’m determined to keep rooting around until I find somebody who’s been able to crack the code. For me, the side effects from tamoxifen didn’t come on all at once. When I first started (mid-Sept of last year), I noticed some emotional stuff after a month or two (I’d start crying while chatting with a girlfriend, for instance – not my usual style). But eventually, my body got accustomed to the hormonal ups and downs and it reached a more even keel. Around April, though, I began to put on weight. I haven’t put on a ton of weight – I’m 10 pounds higher than I was post chemo (after losing the steroid/water weight) — but I have to work out a LOT and really watch my calorie intake just to maintain.

      A couple of weeks ago, I tried talking about all this with my onc but she didn’t seem that symmpathetic. And I get her point. After all, I’m alive and boxing and running and yet, I’m sitting there whining about not being able to fit into my jeans while she’s dealing with people who are dying every day. But weight gain is a very slippy slope for me so I’m going to keep trying to lose the extra 10 (and then some) by exercising – which I need for stress relief anyway – and by fooling around with my food combos. I’m also going to keep researching it because I don’t want to keep climbing the scale. As for other side effects, I’m also having hot “flushes” (wouldn’t call them flashes since they’re not too severe). They’re like a warm wave that hits about once an hour on some days – and not at all on others. My onc gave me a prescription for gabapentin for these but I haven’t filled it yet. I get so tired of taking meds and then taking more meds for the side effects from the first meds, blah blah blah. If the hot flushes get worse, though, I may try the gabapentin; I’ve heard it works well and doesn’t have any side effects except drowsiness.

      Tamoxifen has been a bit of a pain in my ever-growing ass, but it hasn’t been intolerable. I know some women can’t handle it at all. For me, at this point, it’s doable. Just like the frigging double mastectomy was doable. Horrible and heartbreaking, but doable. I still miss my girls BUT I have hair now (it’s curly, too!) and I don’t have cancer. In the end, you have to just look at the big picture, particularly the fact that if you go through with the surgery and what they like to call “treatment,” you’ll be IN that picture in days to come.

      Much love and please let me know how things go with the surgery. FYI, the post-surgery drains are totally gross but they’re doable, too, especially after a glass of wine. (My sisters and I used to call it “drinking and draining.”) Take care, darling, and all my very best.

  6. patti October 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I am 6 years in limboa and even though more time has passed for me than you, describing it as limbo is exactly right. Every cold is cancer, ever pain is lukemia…..it never goes away. In some dark way I have come to terms that this will kill me. Hoplefully a long time from now, but this is it.
    I love that you have humor….it always worked for me as well.

  7. kitlynstar January 11, 2013 at 7:04 am #

    I noted your resources list, and I’d like to suggest two more. Living Beyond Breast Cancer is a national BC education/support organization based in the Philadelphia area. They have a terrific website, do free webinars, have a helpline staffed with volunteer BC survivors (like me) and do two annual conferences in Philly. The spring one, usually held on the first weekend in May is a 2 day for metastatic BC (anyone w/ BC and family may attend) and a 1 day general BC conference is held in Sept. They get top notch physicians, cancer social workers, nutritionists, oncology nurses and others to present. Larry Norton, the head of BC medicine at Sloane Kettering did the keynote at the fall conference and told us about how he and a colleague had a phone conversation which led to them figuring out the mechanism by which metastasis occurs, and which is going to lead to different avenues of research. (Stay tuned!) LBBC also partners with Young Survivors Coalition (for those diagnosed w/ BC at 40 or younger) and they co-produce an annual conference too.
    The other organization of note is Breastcancer.org. It was founded and is run by Dr. Marissa Weiss, a Philly based breast oncologist and BC survivor. It also has a kick ass website with lots of information, has a huge discussion board with more BC related topics than you can shake a prosthesis at, and a LIVE chat room. Said chat room saved my sanity in ’04 when I went from a st 1 to st 4 BC diagnosis in 4 mo, and had 3 major surgeries while living alone and having no partner. The chat room used to be a 24/7 international event, but with the advent of Facebook, it now is more likely occupied in the evenings.

    • singleshot1 January 11, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      Thanks for the great suggestions, Kitlynstar. Will add them both shortly!

  8. kitlynstar January 11, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    I’m glad you got them. I wasn’t sure that my post had made it. By the way…LBBC provides travel grants to their conferences for those who need them.

  9. Jennifer Boothroyd May 21, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    I just read your article about Victoria’s Secret and mastectomy bras. You should know about Handful, a growing Pacific Northwest which makes a great mastectomy bra. You can find them here: http://www.handful.com/ and videos of their products here: http://www.youtube.com/user/handfulinc The only thing they don’t have is a front closure bra. Thought I’d pass this on to you as I have a friend who works there and another friend in recovery after a double with reconstruction.

  10. Paige Kraus May 31, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    Stumbled upon your blog when I google searched Gastric Bypass and Chemotherapy. My mom had a gastric bypass 5 years ago. Two months ago she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer (metasacized to her liver and abdominal wall). She began chemotherapy and is having issues with diarrhea – or the icky poops as you called them. We think that the bypass is causing this awful diarrhea, but are running into the same issues with doctors that you did – no one seems to know anything about how the bypass and cancer and chemo all interact. Do you have any other information about this? I would love to hear anything you discovered in your own journey.

  11. claudiaschmidt2013 November 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    I had ILC as well, similar type of deal. I only had it one one breast, but in 2 spots, so had to have a mastectomy. I elected to have a bilateral, glad I did because they found I had pre-asplasia in the right one after they did the biopsy. Had AC and then Taxol, too. Didn’t have to do radiation because we knew I was doing the bilateral. Love your blog – I can’t believe you dated 2 weeks after your mastectomy – brave woman!

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