Archive for the ‘cancerversary’ Category

Today, May 4, 2010 is the……..

May 4, 2010

……….1 year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy.  

Like most of my days lately, it was very busy……slept in until 4:45 am, then got up to finish grading poorly written papers before the coffee was even brewed, cleaned the kitchen, made son a 3 egg cheese omelet, and then drove him into T-town for 9 am medical appointment, and back home with just enough time to rush off to work myself, worked half day, taught four classes, 86 kids, and then entered grades for two classes with moments to spare before the grade entering window slammed shut.  Was done at school by 4:20, dashed off to purchase supplies for food demo and labs this week and got caught up in the 5 pm rush at the store……….only to discover the first store didn’t have all the required ingredients….. big sigh……hustle back to Perrysburg, and oh-bonus activity, got to stop by the library to vote, THEN home to make dinner, spaghetti for us, pita pizzas for kids, clean up the kitchen, head back out to second grocery store to buy the rest of supplies…..big sigh again…not enough of the whole wheat pitas there either dammit, will have to go grocery shopping AGAIN tomorrow morning BEFORE school…moderated a fight between the boys and then got the kids ice cream at the good Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop.  Actually sat down for a couple of minutes to watch the local girl on American Idol.  Figured out what to wear to school tomorrow. ALL THE WHILE THINKING………..gee, that whole breast removal thing that occurred a year ago today…..seems like such a big damn deal that I should recognize it somehow.  Maybe even celebrate it in some way.  All day, I was perplexed at the thought of how do you recognize such a wierd, life-transforming event as a mastectomy?   Find something you love and cut it off?

Only now have I realized that I did celebrate that stupid mastectomy.  by living.  by still being here for my kids (as imperfect a parent as I am….)  still being a teacher.  still moving on this planet.

stupid cancer hasn’t killed me yet.  chemotherapy and radiation, survived both of them, too.  They all really suck, and I’m going to some day get beyond this phase of life of daily incredulous rediscovery of…..my life with stupid cancer.

But on the bright side, it could be so, so much worse.  I am grateful for all the gifts I’ve been given…even crappy ones, for each experience, if it doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.

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cancerversary

March 6, 2010

Well, today is a cancerversary of sorts.  On May 6, 2009, Dr. Butler told me, while she was inspecting the sample she removed during the biopsy, “Well if that doesn’t come back positive, I’m going to do it again.”  I had no idea what she meant.  Positive for what?  Bad juju?  Positive for negative stuff?  Oh the days of such naiveté!!

Now, exactly one year to the day later, I have an unexplained swelling under/over or in my expander implant on my right side that is getting big enough to pull the skin on my chest, including the irradiated skin which doesn’t stretch, so I can feel the pulling clear around on my back on the left side.  It is creepy, uncomfortable, and scary.  I’ve talked to the nurses from my radiation oncologist, and plastic surgeon and as long as there is no sign of infection, the best they can offer me is appointments next week.  Sigh………… That does not seem like a good enough answer.

In the mean time, I am completely exhausted……..now apparently this is from the new issue, Thyroid problems, from which Dr. E, my G.P. has prescribed Levothyroxin.  Apparently this malady makes you very tired.  Check mark that.  I’m exhausted.  I managed to assist one student early this morning with an extracurricular competition at Four County Vocational School in Archbold OH in the student organization FCCLA (Family, Career, Community Leaders of America…..the updated new millenium version of FHA, Future Homemakers of America) and lucky for both of us, he received a good enough score to move on to the next level of competition, the State competition….while I am just trying to figure out how in the hell I am going to move out of bed right now.  How am I going to grade papers this weekend?  It is officially Saturday night and I’ve only graded about a half of an inch of papers in a 3 inch pile?  How am I going to get some decent lesson plans in order for my substitute for at least the 2 -3 days I’ll be off next week for Dr. appointments? 

I’m just having a hard time thinking through all of it.  Current conditions: Exhausted.  Hard time thinking, processing cognitively.  Extremely uncomfortable expanding “expander implant”  side boob.  Skin uncomfortable. Pressure on lungs making deep breathing difficult.  Very hoarse voice.  Slurred speech when talking for any length of time.  Extremely dry skin.  Hands uncomfortable.  Yellowish skin tint in hands. Swelling in eyes.  

I sure hope I feel well enough to go hang with the Unitarians tomorrow.  I especially hope and pray that this current business clears up soon and does not interfere with my vacation plans for Spring Break.  I don’t even want to think about that……

Wish I knew what to do next.

thoughts while driving to appointment today…

March 4, 2010

If your breast expands exponentially and independently will you eventually explode? 

Thats what I found scrawled on the scrap of paper I keep in the car while I drove to my hastily arranged ultrasound appointment this afternoon.  Last night I got to see one of my “guys”, Dr. B, about my big and getting bigger boob, right side.  Getting bigger as in: seeming bigger, seeming to settle down….then getting bigger, and seeming to settle down.  Or at least that is what it has been doing for the last week or so.  Except for the last three days.  Getting big…..getting bigger…..bigger…..even bigger….  On Wednesday the boob-with-a-mind-of-it’s-own started  pulling the special bra, the one that holds the “foob” on the left side in place…over to the right side.  Last night in the middle of the night I woke up feeling like some crazy PS snuck into my room and expanded me 200+cc’s.  Not very funny was my first thought…..whichever brain cell decided to sneak that one in doesn’t know about my particular distaste for nasty misogynist horror films.

Anyways, B’s nurse managed to get an appointment for me today at 2:00 to receive a little ultrasound view of whats happening.  Except I got some kind of Buffy the technician sonographer who told me she worked at Stanford for a year until she came back to Toledo.   OK, I thought, I trusted you up until then….  Of course she saw “nothing”.  No doc came into the room at all.  Apparently he looked at the images remotely and also saw nothing.  They really did not care that I told them it is definitely “something”. 

Right now at 10 pm I think it is even bigger than it was today.  I can feel the boob-with-a-mind-of-it’s-own now pulling on the radiated skin on the flat scary-scar-ry -side -of-my-chest.  Now that’s a definate sensation of creepy and not comfortable.  Who ya gonna call?  Wish I knew.

And as if that weren’t bad enough, Dr. Evans, G.P. called and told me the blood test last monday showed EXTREMELY hypothroid.  And NO WONDER you feel tired with results like these!  Should be in the 4-5 range, but my number is way, way, WAY higher.

Now it’s not that I want to be sick, but when you do feel crappy, it’s nice to have those feelings validated in reality. 

Tooo tired to write anymore……….let’s wait and see what tomorrow brings.

cancerversary month

February 15, 2010

So yesterday, Sunday morning I was listening to On the Media, an NPR program, which was doing great piece on Black History Month.  Then, they played this recording of Lucille Clifton reciting her poem, won’t you celebrate with me.  While I in no manner can relate to what it is like to grow up black in the United States, I could completely relate to this poem from a “sickness and health cancer-living” perspective.  Since this is my cancerversary month (yes, it was a month, exactly from the day when Cindy Parke, CNM, said, “Hmmnn, I don’t like the feel of this” to receiving the results of a mammogram and subsequent biopsy) I thought I’d post this.  Tell me what you think.

POEM

won’t you celebrate with me

by Lucille Clifton

won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
 
 
I have spent a LOT of time this past year, “my one hand holding tight my other hand”.  I cautiously, and with a bit of fear of being premature, celebrate the fact that something that has tried to kill me has, so far, failed.