Cancer Part 3: Realizations

You know what hit me today , or perhaps yesterday...yesterday was a bad day.
I have cancer
yeah I know... " isn't that what you've been on about for a while now???" but it hit me as reality. This is not simply something I'm having removed. The surgery?  yeah that's just the beginning of this adventure. I've been working so hard on being positive, on being blase' about the whole thing.... I mean hell why SHOULDN'T I be? My mother had it & survived, my grandmother had it and survived, friends have had it and survived, the Medical community is talking cure my outlook is pretty damned bright.

and yet

Part of me has been in a kind of denial about what all this means. Part of me kinda thought about the surgery like having your tonsil removed, all done a bit of pain but in the end you can eat all the ice cream you want! We all know that old chestnut, and what it really meant.

Surgery itself is not the end, it's not the cure, it's only part of the cure. I will still need other treatment. They cant tell me what yet because nothing comes back from the pathologist for a while ( 4 more weeks of waiting for results) not that anything could begin right away, there is no delay in treatment my body has to recover from the surgery before I can being any of the other treatments.

SO... what treatments you may ask. Well it could be radiation, and tamoxifen , it could be chemo & radiation or any combination of the aforementioned. There is even a 10% chance of having to go back for more surgery IF the margins are not clear or they are worried about other lymph nodes ... but that's only 10% ....90% chance of that not happening. ANY of the treatments will have side effects, the least of which will be being tired, and if that tired is anything like it's been lately.... you are fucking tired.

I KNOW my prognosis is good, I know they know what to do with this disease and I know that my chances of being around to pester you all for along time yet is really really good.
BUT I also know I have cancer and that all the ice cream in the world doesn't change that.

I'll do a run down later of what the day of surgery entailed , and how recovering is going but for now this is most on my mind...so this is what you get.


Tomorrow is surgery

Well it's felt like an eternity , but now it's finally the eve of my surgery. I am feeling anxious  of course , probably more about all the freaking sticks I'll have to have tomorrow than about the cancer itself. There is a surreal quality to the whole thing.

I mean if someone hadn't said HEY there's this thing in your body that will try and kill you"  you'd never know because you don't FEEL different.

People keep saying to me "Oh you look great though"..um yeah that's because nothing has changed since the last time you saw except I now KNOW that something is wrong. You don't start to look shitty till you are getting treatment.

Another weird thing is the fact you seem to spend a great deal of time making other people feel better about your disease. Its amazing the amount of reassuring I've been doing to everyone else...well not everyone there are those in my inner circle who know what is what and I never feel I have to "cheer them up about it"

I even had one person who refused to accept the term "Cancer"... lol... no really . I was making a joke like "You cant be mad at me! I have CANCER" and they started to lose it. "No you don't!"  Um yes... yes I do.
Let me put it to you THIS way. I have "A CANCER" in my breast. It's there it's not like they aren't sure about it, it is what it is , and now we treat it.

I just want to say if you know someone who is going through treatment, don't do that. Don't deny them they ability to joke about it. Honestly when I do it I hear the voice of Jack Sparrow only instead of "Pirate." I hear "Cancer." We need, ALL OF US, to laugh about things... especially things that scare the ever living fuck out of us. Because ( and I know one should never start a sentence with because) sometimes if you cant laugh you are going to cry, and we all do enough of that.

I'm not going to die (well not yet anyway, and not of this). They are talking cure. I am listening to my Dr.'s  I am doing all the things I need to do to be healthy.

 SO what have they done so far?
1. mammogram
2. another mammogram & Ultrasound
3. Ultrasound & biopsy
4. results scheduled surgery:
5. MRI of both breast to check nothing has been missed
6. Pre-Operative check up including blood work & chest X-ray
7. Another ultra sound to make sure the thing they saw on the left breast ( the right is where the tumor is) was not something to be worried about. (#7 is about as close as I get to praying..mostly consisted of the mantra of "Please let everything fine" repeated in my head ad nauseum. Everything is fine btw)

Next up surgery! What are they going to do?
Well I have to show up at 8:00 am to start the day ( I can still have coffee just no milk..yay!), my surgery is scheduled for 12:45... so lots of sitting & waiting.
They have to shoot me full of blue dye, which apparently will make me look quite grey/blue in tone.I have had to warn people so that they wont be worried about my colour... especially as I am pigmentally challenged anyway... HEY I WILL BE A BLUE BLOOD! take that social ladder!
The blue dye is used to tint the lymph nodes so they can grab one or two to biopsy and see if any spread of cancer cells has happened.
I also get the added component of having a guide wire inserted so that the surgeon is sure exactly where the tiny tumor is . As scary as that sounds it's actually a good thing because that's how small it is  :D They are taking an egg shaped area  so that healthy tissue surrounds the tiny tumor, a lumpectomy, or as the medically call it a "partial mastectomy"  which sounds WAY scarier but means exactly the same thing.

I should be coming back home around 4:30 pm. I then have 2 weeks of convalescence, hopefully I'll be up and around in a couple of days. I am suppose to get the results of the lymph node biopsy in about 1- 1 1/2 weeks and then we will discuss any further treatment I will need. Basically if it's Radiation or Chemo, that all depends on the lymph nodes.

OK so now you are all up to date!


Cancer Part1: in which my boobies are trying to kill me

So I have been dealing with this for the last little while, and I have finally managed to contact most of my family & real life friends  to tell them  person to person. SO now dear friends & readers I begin my story for you all.

I finally screwed up my courage to go get my mammogram about a month ago. I've know for ages that I should be having them regularly as breast cancer is in my immediate family. YA know what... I don't even know why I put it off as long as I did. Really we have GOT to stop telling women horror stories about what they are like. Uncomfortable yes, and you have to get pretty intimate with your technician  but seriously if you've been a girl for any length of time one gets used to being handled by medical people, it just part of having the equipment we have! So anyway my initial mammogram was over & done , and other than having one boob larger than the other it all seemed well & good. Then I got a phone call a couple of weeks later...

dun dun dun duuuuuuh

 Well not yet really, "we just cant see something clearly ,can you come back in for another mammogram & an ultra sound" So off I pop to get another one done.This one was a "Cone" ultrasound so more uncomfortable but still they are so fast that really ya just get through it. The ultrasound is a breeze although you are covered in goo... but the relaxed attitude is a little less evident in the people around you. Still you go home and wait. The next day I got a call from the Breast Health Clinic asking me to come in at 8:30am for another ultrasound and possible biopsy...

and yes this is the time where you lose your shit.

My Dr. had left a message for me with my daughter to call her but somehow this got missed so I was blindsided by this event. The Breast Health Clinic people were excellent and very comforting about the phone call, and managed to arrange for me to come in at a better time, a week later. That seemed like no time at all... until you have to wait for the week to be up. But as I am beginning to teach myself to understand everything is just a moment savour the good ones and find a way to make it through the bad ones, because either way they will eventually be over.

When the day of the ultrasound came I was still holding on to the idea that someone was being over cautious and they were going to laugh & tell me never mind it's all good! I went to the B.H.C. first broke down into tears had a wonderful nurse explain everything to me, a great volunteer take me to the ultra sound, wonderful ultrasound people who did the exam & then took it directly to the radiologist to check it... Instead they came in smiled and said "OK well we'd like to do a biopsy if your OK with that."

Am I OK with that? Hell no! Every part of me wanted to get up and walk... no run out of the room. However I said "Yes" gritted my teeth and waited for them to freeze me up and do it. Now if you know me you know I am PHOBIC about needles, I had so many as a child the absolute terror they inspire in me, well it's bad... it's really bad. But one thing I did learn as a kid was hold still get it over with because if you fight it , they do it again. The Biopsy really wasn't that bad, even the freezing seemed to be less "owie" than I always remember it. It was about 1/2 hr start to finish and I walked out with little more than a band aid, and a bruise. Yeah the boob was sore afterwards, but hell I've pushed a human being out of my body this wasn't that big a deal.

The you talk to the Surgeon. (At the Breast Health Clinic they have everything together so your not waiting around going from appointment to appointment being referred from Dr. to Dr. absolutely the way to do it if one is available to you!) She examined me again told me about the suspected area, and eventually explained what she would do IF it turned out to be cancer. Her speaking so plainly was actually quite comforting, and I left feeling far less traumatized than when I came in. Although I went home & slept for about 5 hrs.

If I thought the week waiting for the appointment was long ... the week waiting to get the results well yeah THAT was LONG.

This past Tuesday my hubby & I went to the B.H.C. for the results of the biopsy. More moments to live through but we joked and waited and held hands and waited and when she finally said "I just want to examine you one more time" and then said "Get dressed so we can have a talk." That's when I knew it wasn't going to be an "Well boy did we overreact!" talk. Ya know what I was still OK.

SO what I have is ductal cancer it is very small, so we got it really early. I have surgery planned for the 26th of July. They are going to do a lumpectomy taking out the tumour and a margin of healthy tissue around the tumor. They are also going to give me radioisotopes ( I was really hoping that my superpower was going to be flight!... but my physics friend has informed me even if it was delivered by radioactive spider I wouldn't get superpowers...BOOO) and a blue dye  so they can find the lymph nodes under my arm and take at least one of those too. Then everything gets biopsy again and we decided what follow up treatment is most appropriate.

The good news is they have actually been using the word CURE, not control, not live with... but CURE. So your not rid of me yet folks! I'm going to try to blog about this, because if I can make one woman less afraid , make one woman go get checked out so she can find it SOONER then that's a difference, a real difference.

I am scared, I fluctuate between, "Meh, it really isn't a big deal" and "It's fucking CANCER" I'm sure I'm not fun to live with atm. But it is a journey I am making, just trying to get through each bad moment remembering it's just that "A moment that passes" and remembering to hang onto all the good ones because we need to savour the good things.