Cancer 101

At least it is 101 for me.  I am in the process of learning more about the disease that took both my parents lives.

Unfortunately it has now decided to focus on ME.  Yes, that’s right, I have Cancer.  Wow, that is much harder to write down and say than I ever thought it would be.

Unlike some, it is not as simple as just cutting out the tumor and you are good to go.  Let me start at the beginning so you can understand it all.

Back in February I discovered a lump in my left breast that felt very tender and really hurt alot.  I had always had fibrous breast tissue and had even had a similar lump like this back 31 years ago when I was only nineteen.  Back then they determined it was just a fibroid cyst and nothing to be worried about.  It eventually went away.  So this time I was not really alarmed by the lump as I thought it was just a cyst repeat.  I had also begun hormone therapy the May before as my testosterone and progesterone levels were nearly non existent and the therapy had proved to help me get my life back.  Part of the side effects of hormone therapy is that you can get some fibrous lumps in the breasts or they can become tender due to hormone shifts.  This was another reason I thought the lump I felt was no big deal.

Two weeks went by and I mentioned it to my husband and he also thought it was probably no big deal but said “maybe you should get it checked out anyway”.  So I made an appointment to see my GM doctor but could not get in to see him for a couple of weeks.

He checked me over and tried to insist on a mammogram which I have no faith in so I declined and said what about thermography or other non radiation type of diagnostics?  He admitted he didn’t know much about it and referred me to a breast surgeon he knew well to take a closer look and see what she recommended.

I made the appt for 3 weeks later.  Until then I was busy pushing for a new rank in my business and was occupied with that.  I did make it and was qualified for a leadership meeting which would take me out of state for the 3 days before the surgeon appointment.  I was nervous for most of the trip and felt very odd when a woman on stage was speaking about her cancer that the dr’s originally told her was terminal and she was given 6 months to live.  I shed tears as she said that she did conventional therapy but also went to India to learn practices there and did alternative medicine first.  This was 2 years ago and she is doing well although the thing that really stuck in my mind is that she stated the treatment she received from western medicine ended up giving her ANOTHER form of CANCER that she was battling now.  I found myself wondering if this was going to be my story but tried to ignore my thoughts.

That Friday afternoon I went to the surgeon.  She did an ultrasound and said things looked suspicous and wanted to do a biopsy to be sure.  We scheduled it for the following Tuesday.  She was not a very empathetic dr and I felt like things were moving so fast and were out of my control.  The biopsy hurt like HELL and still bothers me nearly 3 weeks later.

That Friday, March 23rd, my cousin’s birthday, was a day and a phone call that would change my life forever.  I expected the dr to say it was just a cyst and not to worry.  No big deal.

Instead, she said “I am sorry to have to tell you that the biopsy is showing cancer”.  I began to cry and didn’t really even know why.  I demanded a second opinion and she said she could send it out for that.  Of course the second opinion from Vanderbilt a week later would confirm what had already been said.  I think every emotion possible went through my head.  I mean how could this happen?  I bit the bullet and quit smoking cigarettes 5 years ago.  I ate cleaner than most people do who never got cancer.  I drank my water, I had lost 49 lbs of fat in the last year, I ate fruit and veggies and tried to avoid eating processed foods every day.  I didn’t have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or other diseases.  I used oils and took vitamins!  How could this STILL happen????

Luckily for me the surgeon was going on vacation and I needed to see her associate while she was gone.  I liked this dr so much better.  She was empathetic and was understanding.  She wanted to listen to my concerns and help me find a way to do what was best for me.  She explained things in details I asked for.  What a blessing she has been.  She told me the next step was an MRI to look at both breasts and lymph in the area as it had already shown that it had spread from the duct into the breast tissue and so it was deemed a level 2.

They also introduced me to what they called a Navigator.  A very nice RN who would take notes and help me with the next step of everything in my journey.  I was still struggling so bad with the fact I hated all the vile radiation and dyes they wanted to inject in me.  All cancer causing, I knew this, even though they said it was so small it wouldn’t matter.  I didn’t want the vile injections but I knew there was no other way to know what was really there.  Where we could start.  Please Lord don’t let this be how I finish.  Don’t let death from cancer be the finish that everyone remembers.  But I am still trying to focus on the fact that I am NOT in charge.  Wish God had not made me such a control freak!

The MRI the following week would show another tumor in the right breast.  Another biopsy was scheduled and it HURT like HELL too.  So much I almost threw up.  Then they forced me to take a mommo to be sure he put the “marker” in the right spot because apparently he can’t read ultrasound like the female surgeon could???

This was a different cancer.  One that responds to hormones and can be treated with oral medication.  It was slow growing and tiny and can be cut out.  yay me.  On the other hand it showed the tumor on the left (the word tumor sounds so ugly and does not come out of my mouth well at this point) was about 7 cm in size and had spread to muscle tissue in the chest.  Surgery was no longer an option for this as they like to take some of the surrounding tissue to make sure they don’t miss any of it.  Now the surgeon says a CT scan is needed to look at lymph, lung and chest area to see if there are any other spots.

Unfortunately on Monday April 9th the surgeon was forced to tell me that 2 lymph in the breast bone area look “suspicious”.  Were they wearing little black trench coats or something?  Plus there were some small spots 2 or 3 on my lungs.  Apparently they had trench coats too.

So now…now, it is time to see the medical oncologist.  The part I have been dreading.  Because surgery is not an option we have to “shrink” the tumor so that surgery can be an option.  The only way to do that – besides diet and THC – is through CHEMO.  God I hate that word.  It brings me back to my mother 25 years ago.  I watched her slowly get worse and worse with every treatment she had.  I would come to visit her and she would not be able to get out of bed.  She wouldn’t even have the energy to talk to me and slept.  The cancer kept growing.  It eventually took her voice right after her first grand child was born – literally the afternoon of my daughters birthday.  THREE short weeks later the oncologist told me that she would never wake up again and that they could do some treatments to help make her comfortable as she must be in a lot of pain.  REALLY????  like that was what you thought was a good idea?  An actual option?  I had watched chemo and cancer take so much from others I knew.  Took their spirit.  It made me sick to think that my spirit would suffer the same.

I sit in his office.  I suddenly feel like crying and he’s not even in the room yet.  No words have even been said and tears are beginning to stream.  Why can’t I control this???  Why am I feeling like this?  I don’t know how this is going to end….or do I?  No, only God knows how this will end.  So I grab more kleenex and the oncologist comes in and begins reading my file on the screen.  He tells me the next step is a final scan.  A PET scan that will look at the entire body and will show any “hot” spots that are most likely cancer without having to do a  biopsy.  Thank God cause the lymph ones would require them to go into the wind pipe to get a biopsy!  NOT gonna Happen!

Then it has to be chemo.  A series of 4 injections given two weeks apart.  Strong dose and he says “we’ll need to monitor your heart”.  WHY????

Because one of the two drugs they use can damage the heart muscle.  Well how nice!  Actually I was thinking “well how fucking nice” but I didn’t say it.  Of course I just started to cry more.  Then he pisses me off by asking about the prozac I take and if my dr would like to increase or add to it to get me through all this.  Again I am thinking “well how fucking nice”.  I decline and proceed to tell him how I love natural.  I don’t like toxic drugs.  I don’t like synthetics.  I suffer with horrible side effects from almost every drug I have ever had to take.  He tells me there is acupuncture and other modalities there to help me too.  This makes me feel a bit better.

Then he drops the bomb that I will need to have a port put into my chest that they can then inject the chemo into this port and it will go directly into a vein in the neck.  This is better than poking the arms for a vein and injecting hours worth of deadly toxins.  This must be surgically put in and will be done after the PET scan is completed the following week so they can get started right away.

I cry more.  I am supposed to leave at 1:00 for a class I teach at two but the time on the computer screen that I see through my tears says 1:22 already!  My husband calls to cancel it and I feel my business slipping away from me  a little more.  And it makes me even more mad that I can’t depend on myself.  That I can’t get done what I need to do!  I don’t want someone to “take care of me”  I have never wanted that.  I never wanted to be a burden to anyone and that is how I was feeling right then and there.

I went home and proceeded to be bitchy and ugly to everyone around me.  Not wanting to do anything that required responsibility.  Begging my husband to change his diet for his health and take care of himself so he doesn’t end up like me.  Begging him to talk to someone about all of this so it doesn’t get him stressed out.  Not sure if he listened because he usually doesn’t listen to me.

I went to bed at 8:20.  Just wanting the world to go away.  I used oils to help me sleep and never woke up until 6 a.m. the next day.

I will most likely be fine for the most part until the PET scan next week and the dr. visit.  I will most likely cry all day again.  We are supposed to go to the autism conf. next week from thur-sat.  May be my last hurrah for awhile.

For the last week I have gone without, Meat, Dairy, Sweets & BEER!!  Or anything fried!  Oh how I miss my beer and my cheese!!  I sure hope these changes can help kill the cancer and keep it away.  Only time will tell.

The oncologist says the 2 drugs they use first for chemo will make me lose my hair.  Finally got it the way I like it with curls and all and now it will be gone.  At least I won’t have to worry about coloring gray roots for the next 6-8 months.  And on the plus side I won’t have to wax my brows or pluck hairs off my chin for awhile either.  Val says she’ll help me paint on some eyebrows though.  She says her step-daughter, who is going through the same thing now, lost her hair in a matter of 2 weeks after she started chemo.  So by the beginning of May I will be bald.  sigh.

I just don’t want this to be “normal” for the rest of my life here.  Lord, please don’t let this be how I finish.


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