Back in late August I began a journey which has led me here. I was diagnosed with GERD about 8 years ago back in Phoenix. No biggie. However, this summer, my traitorous digestive tract started to misbehave once again. I had some pretty constant pain which finally forced me into the doctor’s office. I hate going to the doctor’s. They did a thorough job of taking every imaginable picture of my insides, thankfully without the intrusive and awful procedures of colonoscopy and endoscopy. Actually it is not the procedure which is bad; it is the prep that is bad. In any event the conclusion came to irritable bowel syndrome and since starting probiotics I am good to go.
HOWEVER, when they did my CT scan, they mentioned they could do my over-due mammogram at the same time, which fortunately, I decided to have done. That started the “snowball effect”. I got called back two or three times for further studies including a digital 4D mammogram and an ultrasound. The Dr. in charge of radiology concluded I needed a biopsy, which was done. The result was that I had some abnormal cells in the area, so they further recommended surgery.
I had started doing my homework when I was told I needed a biopsy, and I found a surgeon with a 5-star rating in the DC area. He is highly recommended for good reason – he is fantastic as is the rest of his team. He went over all of my scans and results. We set a date for surgery, but in the interim he also scheduled an MRI with contrast. As it happened, there was an area of concern in the other breast as well. The next step was another biopsy. What fun. You lie on a table with your tatas hanging through a hole in the table. The doctor goes UNDER the table with an imaging device and thankfully loads you up with numbing meds. Then they take the tissue sample and throw a tiny metal piece in you so they can always find that particular area in surgery and further exams.
As it happened, the area turned out to be cancer. On the 22nd, which I was NOT looking forward to (I not only hate doctors visits, I also hate surgery and hospitals. We are talking LOATHE and DESPISE here, not just simple hate.) I had two lumpectomies. They both turned up cancer. Thankfully, quite early. I now have two appointments with two different kinds of oncologists scheduled – one for medicines and the other for radiation. I can think of many better ways to spend my time.
Yesterday, I met with a FABULOUS woman who is a co-worker of Tony. She is not a professor but she is an administrator in the business end of the college. She had a very aggressive type of breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, followed by several weeks of chemo. In addition she had another serious condition which had to be surgically addressed as soon as she was done with chemo. What I didn’t know was that Tony had been giving her encouragement all the way through. For those who don’t know him, he has survived cancer – twice. 25 years ago he had a stage 3 testicular cancer, and about 13 years ago he had melanoma. Yesterday, Cathy gave me a great deal of information and resources which I have been skimming. Sometimes I just have to stop because it gets a bit overwhelming.
On a humorous note, I have been teasing Tony about this being payback time. When he was diagnosed 25 years ago I made the COLOSSAL mistake of renting a couple of movies in hopes of giving him support and encouragement. What a joke! One was called “Dying Young”, starring Julia Roberts. The other was “Fat Man and Little Boy” – the invention of the atomic bombs. The first question I asked him following my diagnoses was – “are you renting the movies for me?”
I confess I have been milking this to the nth degree. Every time Tony asks me to get him something or do something for him, my reply is generally something like “I can’t! I have can-sore!” (deliberately mis-pronounced.) It has been a long-standing, sick joke in this family that we do such things. Tony had surgery on his hand a while back so he often scrunches the hand now, claiming he can’t pay a bill or otherwise do things. It has gotten so we try and see who does the hand scrunch or gives a little cough-cough the fastest. Of course, our 3 now adult kids have all picked up on it as well.
Lately we have had visits from “sock puppet”. Tony also had a knee replacement this spring and unfortunately developed a blood clot behind his knee. He has been wearing a compression stocking at night to help the condition. Our daughter has taken to grabbing the stocking and putting it on her arm with the heel and toe holes on her hand. She makes that damn stocking come alive! It gets funnier than Jeff Dunham’s sketches with Walter or the Dead Terrorist. Cait was recently recruited for the Improv Club at her college and I can certainly see why. She aspires to be a nurse – God help her future patients. Not only will she be a tartar of a nurse, passing out the orders, I now also hope she won’t induce heart attacks with her zany sense of humor.
In any event, when shit hits the fan, I can guarantee if you do not laugh, you will brood and cry. And that, while needed in order to vent, absolutely sucks as a full-time occupation. The tomorrows are limited, so when you have things, even simple things, you want to do, you’d best get to it.