Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meeting the Woman Who Will Cut Off My Boobs

Finally, the day that I meet my surgeon is here. I waited patiently for a week with cancer in my boob for this meeting. For a plan. For some action. The surgeon, Dr Garrett, is a confident, gregarious, and a bit quirky woman with a southern accent. Within minutes she had told us of her mother coming out as a lesbian late in life, as well as her disdain for our President. My kinda gal. She looked me in the eye and said "I can cure YOU, I can't do much about him. But I can cure you".  All I needed to hear. I'm all in. Let's go. 

The doctor proceeded to tell us about surgical options and give us tons of reading materials: lumpectomy, mastectomy, reconstruction, blah, blah, blah. All too much right now. My heads is still spinning from “you have cancer” thing.

A bit of god news: A quick but thorough sonogram of my lymph nodes is negative (good). 

Honestly if Liz wasn't in these meetings I wouldn't remember half the information flying at us. Blessfully, Liz is detailed, organized and determined to get answers and move this ball forward. I couldn't ask for a better advocate. I only hope as we quickly drop into the abyss of chemo treatments she's held up and held together by our friends and our family. She's gonna need it.

BTW, it turns out I'm "triple negative" (more on that later).  Joy. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Courage to Know

It took at week before I could actually read my pathology report. The 5 second glimpse of it on day one revealed the words"invasive" and "cancer". About all I could physically and mentally handle. But a week into this, curiosity and courage rose up and I read it. 
Words were scary and I didn't completely understand everything but it was now real. I read it. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

So How Did I Spend My First Weekend with Cancer, You Ask??

I don't know about you, but was determined to do enjoyable and relaxing things my first weekend with cancer.

So, Saturday  I went to Home Depot (surprise), Trader Joe's and the dry cleaners. I like my shirts to be professionally laundered and pressed. Liz is more of an ironing gal. Not me. So the dry cleaners is an every weekend stop. Followed by a nice dinner and an evening at Keegan Theatre. We really enjoy going to Keegan, so it was perfect timing to have tickets for tonight.

I got little sleep Saturday night.

Woke at 1:30 am 'cuz the dog (Bettie) got hot under the covers and preceded to stab us with her paws as she tried to get free. Put her in her bed and was awake until 4:30 am when Liz lovingly got me 2 benedrill that put me to sleep until 8:30 am.

I love Sunday mornings: had breakfast (my usual weekend eggs and toast), read the Washington Post, balanced the checkbook, sat in the hot tub. Hmmmmm, seems I have an annoying pain under my right armpit today. Can't figure it out. It's not a sharp pain and it comes and goes. But it's there enough for me to notice. What if it's cancer.? Duh.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hello? I have Cancer!

Okay, folks. I've been told I have cancer and it seems as though no one is paying any attention. Somebody needs to take it out! Now!  I'm ready for it to be taken out now! I admit, the last three days have been quite a shock. Sad. But now I'm angry. I have this stuff inside my boob (spreading who knows where) and no one is taking it out. I'm feeling claustrophobic at times. Like driving home last night. We were entering a tunnel and I started to not be able to breathe.  I know there's something inside me now that is slowly killing me and I want it out and instead I'm waiting for a doctor appointment on Tuesday which seems a little silly in some respects. Why no hurry?!?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My First Talk with God

 "Ok clearly I don't talk to you often and therefore I haven't asked much from you. So this? Cancer? Really? So what do you want? Let's bargain? Let's deal? I'm told you are big on suffering. So have I not suffered enough? Have I not been a good enough person? Do I not treat others well? What?! What do you want from me?! Cuz this sucks my friend. Well, you give this some thought and let me know. But hurry. "

Tonight I toasted my gma and mom. Told them I wasn't ready to see em just yet. I'm scared and I'm sad. This shouldn't be. I don't want the rest of my life being this fight. I'm really not the "pink ribbon" kinda gal. I don't want this for Liz either. Wake me up, anytime now. Please.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day I Found Out I Have Cancer

Look, everyone who HAS cancer, FOUND OUT they have cancer. I guess this doesn't make me unique. But it's ME we are talking about and it's MY blog. So here's how I found out I have cancer. 

Like all good and dutiful adult females, I had my annual mammogram in late December. Fine. No big deal. It's a bit uncomfortable to have your boob smashed to the width of a piece of paper but it's a fast visit. Although this time, I was called in a room to speak to the tech. She showed me my mammogram image and pointed to what looked like a tangle of bright veins and said while she thought it was probably nothing, she would like for me to have an MRI. I said, "right now?". Yes. So into the MRI machine I went. Now it's starting to be a bit concerning. I had had an ultrasound post mammogram in the past to rule out funky imagines, the MRI was a first. And it bothered me that we needed to go to so much effort to check out what may not be anything. So, when I got the call a week later that I needed to schedule a MRI biopsy, I became really concerned but still not terrified, given my history. I faithfully get my mammogram each year, surely this would turn out the same. 

It wasn't the same. 

The GW Breast Center hounded me daily to come in for my results, but I had a feeling it wasn't going to be good news so I waited them out until I could touch base with my doctor, Dr Malone. She had called on a Monday (a few days after the biopsy) but I missed her call. I traveled out of town for the next two days. My birthday was the next day and even though I called her office, she was not in. Friday was the presidential inauguration (i.e. no one works in D.C. that day) and so it was the following Monday and I again called - she wasn't in but she'd be in the office Tuesday. I called Tuesday morning and left a message. No call. I called again around noon with food in my mouth certain I'd get their lunch hour voicemail but instead got a human who immediately put me thru to the doctor. 

She asked if I'd spoken to a surgeon yet...I told her I hadn't heard my results (all the while knowing that if she had expected me to speak to a surgeon this wasn't going to end well). I could hear her pulling up my chart on the computer. She took time to refresh herself with my results and simply  said...... it's cancer.

A sudden rush came thru my ears, the room got dark, I couldn't breath - literally couldn't breathe. And I started to cry. Uncontrollably. She asked if I wanted to see her. To come to her office. I said yes.

I called Liz and told her I'd made contact with Dr. Malone and she suggested we go to her office. I did not tell Liz that I knew the diagnosis. I didn't want her to be upset as she needed to get herself from our home (she had called in sick that day) to my office. I had to figure out the "right time" to tell my wife I had cancer. I didn't want her to hear it from the doctor.

We made it the hospital parking garage, found a spot and Liz shut off the car. I looked at her, took her hand and she began to cry. I told her I'd talked to the doctor and that it was cancer. Liz balled for minutes. I held her hand and let her. Telling her I would be ok. She told me I'd better fight like I've never fought for anything before. I assured her I would.

We talked with our doctor - who has saved my life at least two previous times- and we made a plan. She identified a surgeon, called her office and made my appointment for the following Tuesday. She gave me a hug and her cell phone number.

We went home, held hands thru the night. Let Bettie sleep on the bed. I got little sleep, brought into tears several times and got thru the first night. Hope it gets better from here but I'm fearful there will be other nights like this.