Archive for October, 2018

31
Oct
18

cancer, depression, and (looking for) the light at the end of the tunnel

So according to the National Cancer Institute, depression is “a comorbid disabling syndrome that affects approximately 15-25% of cancer patients.”

Also, apparently, women are more likely to experience depression than men, especially in the transitional period between pre- and post-menopause.

I can’t help but wonder what the percentages are of menopausal women with cancer. Sounds like a lot of really sad women.



I did just get my blood work back from the medical oncologist visit on Monday. At which I cried, more on that in a minute. Apparently I am post-menopausal. Who knew?


Does probably explain the subsiding of the hot flashes even though I’ve stopped HRT, the weight gain over the past couple of years, the moodiness, the lack of interest in….well, just about anything. (Phew! That was close!)

So here I sit, with a breast cancer diagnosis and the best possible prognosis. These details include:

  • Estrogen and progesterone positive—100% and 70%, respectively—which means that my good friend The Tumor, (whom I have named Bobba Fett), had every available surface covered with little seats in which estrogen could rest its weary head and on which the tumor could feed; 70% of it was also receptive to progesterone. This characteristic makes it very vulnerable to blocking those hormones in the body. And apparently it would seem that I’m almost out of them anyway, but not so much so that I won’t have to take Tamoxifen or, more likely given my hormone status, Aromatase Inhibitors, for 5-10 years. And AIs sound like a lot of fun, with side effects like joint pain, loss of bone density, weight gain (yeah, I really need that), vaginal dryness, carpal tunnel syndrome (great for a pianist), increased blood pressure, and mood swings (cuz I’m not having enough of those already).
  • HER2 negative. HER2 is a protein in some breast cancer tumors that seems to make the tumor more aggressive, both faster growing and more likely to spread. HER2 negative means no chemo.
  • Lymph nodes negative—no indication that Bobba Fett has tried to set up little colonies elsewhere in my body, although that is always held out to be possible.
  • Negative genetics for any kind of cancer that is currently identifiable through genetic testing
  • OncoDX score of 17 (out of 100)-–which means it is in the “low-risk” category for spreading, albeit still an 11% chance. Husband likes to point out that that indicates an 89% chance that it won’t spread, but somehow that’s not really where the mind goes. At least not mine.

Apprently once cancer is detected it has been in the body for many, many years; little sneaky sleeper cells lurking around with tiny little time bombs strapped to their  backs.

Bastards.

And most people think that this “best possible prognosis” would mean that I was walking on cloud 9, surround by sunshine, chirping birds, and harp music.


But I’m not.

When I posited the theory that maybe I should be to my medical oncologist earlier this week (right before the tears started) she scoffed, and said, “Pah! It’s still a prognosis, and nobody wants one of those.” The recognition of that, and a prescription for a teeny-tiny bit of Lexapro, has made a big difference.
My bullshit tolerance meter is set to zero. But maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing (equivocation, anyone?)

But I do apologize if I’ve “yelled” at you in anyway in the past few weeks — verbally, via email, or even in my head. I sincerely hope, at some point in the not-too-distant future, that the


sign stops blinking in my head and leaves room for other things. Until then, be well, be safe, get your mammogram, and if somebody snaps at you for no apparent reason, remember, they might have something really shitty going on in their lives right now, and they’re probably really really sorry.

15
Oct
18

happy haiku

Benign were benign.
Malignancy, wide margins.
All lymph nodes are clear.

giphy1

 

 

 

12
Oct
18

waiting for margins

7D8EDE9E-0F01-4946-B72A-8F9EC47EA618

waiting for who?


Guess they’re not coming today.

I know it’s too much to ask to have a nurse available all weekend to call when pathology results are in, but how many women in how many cities around the world have to wait out long weekends when results don’t come on Fridays? There are people working at call centers for when your surgical incision breaks out in a weird red, hot rash at 6 p.m.; they have people doing MRIs on Sundays; pharmacies are even open until 10 p.m. for those last-minute broad-spectrum antibiotics.* Can’t they have a person who calls with pathology results when they come in, even if it’s a Saturday afternoon?

Blimey.

It would also be nice to know if the lymph nodes were negative.

Just sayin’.

 

*Yes, I know all of these things. No, I don’t want to talk about it further.

 

08
Oct
18

how to help

The past few weeks have been quite a ride.

giphy

I mean, I’ve always been a little (🙄) emotional, but sheesh.

CBD drops were helping, until I was told I needed to stop taking them until after the surgery.

One of my dogs ending up with, well, let’s just call it “some gastrointestinal distress” 😬 hasn’t helped.

My lumpectomy is tomorrow.

*Please know that the above cartoon in no way reflects my feelings about my husband. First of all, we don’t even own a La-Z-Boy.

And I am so grateful for all of the messages of love and support I’ve gotten from so many people. The best of which acknowledge the difficulty of the time I’m going through, and/or include specific offers of assistance.

The thing is, while well-intentioned, and appreciated as such, things like “Cancer picked the wrong woman to mess with!” or “You’ve got this! I know (!!!) you’ll be fine!” don’t really speak the truth; a truth we all know. Because cancer is a test you can’t study for, and there are lots of strong women who have lost their noble battles against it.

You want to feel like


but it actually feels more like


I do accept and treasure it all as encouragement. And it might seem odd, but it’s actually more helpful to acknowledge the randomness and lack of control over all of this. As M said to me last night in a text: Cancer isn’t pink, it sucks.


Looking forward to looking back at all this.

03
Oct
18

counting the yays

Genetics came back — testing 42 (I think) genes for possible links to known cancer predispositions.

They all came back negative.

giphy-downsized1

I’ve also been incredibly moved by the number of people who have responded to my first post about all of this, and to my message on facebook. I still kind of feel like

200w_d cancer.

But the “yays” are piling up, for which I am incredibly grateful.

02
Oct
18

screenwriting 101

Someone should write a movie scene, where a woman walks into a large room, wearing an extremely awkwardly-proportioned hospital gown (whose neck is 23” in circumference, anyway? And why are all hospital gowns designed for this person?), climbs up on a table, drapes her breasts through two openings in a plastic frame that looks a bit like a lobster trap, sticks her arm out for an IV, and then gets sent back into a large metal barrel upon which 20 dwarves bang with sledge hammers for 40 minutes.

I think this would be a very powerful scene.

They should then follow up with the same woman going to get her genetics testing lab work done and encountering a young woman in her 20s with a fantasmagoric scar on one side of her head and no hair, holding a sign declaring that this is her last radiation treatment, and beaming with joy thereto. 

Perspective anyone?

Another reminder of how grateful I should be. 

[sigh]




Reader Appreciation Award

Share This

Share |

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 175 other followers

Follow me on Twitter: sheriji1

Blog Stats

  • 112,986 hits