Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks...and No, Thanks.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving feast.  I enjoyed the first one I had not cooked in over twenty years.  I was the fortunate guest of a fellow personal chef friend, whose bountiful table, and deep fried turkey were delightful.  

Obviously, I have a lot to be thankful for this year, not least of which is the fact that I've gone from unknowing cancer host, to cancer survivor, soon to be cancer treatment warrior, in the short span of about 6 weeks.  My follow-up surgical appointment Monday went well - everything she carved out of there and sent to pathology came back clean.

I am really glad that I decided to ditch the Aetna Healthy Food Fight Finals.  While I am a little disappointed that I didn't even get the courtesy of an acknowledgment from G2, the ad agency, running the campaign on Aetna's behalf (or an autographed Bobby Flay book).  In fact, after I left the  G2 rep a voicemail saying I wasn't going to go because I wanted to move up my cancer surgery, several days later she sent an e-mail asking about my travel preferences.  Overall, my experience with G2 was very poor from the beginning, when they 'forgot' to tell me I was a semi-finalist, and I only found out when I followed up with them.  

Anyway, I am glad I moved the surgery up a week, and it's done, it's out, it hasn't spread, it isn't in my lymph nodes, and I am one week further into the treatment than if I had waited.  It did turn out to be Stage II based on the tumor size, which ended up around 2.9 cm.  

This week I had the port inserted in my left arm for my chemo.  Man, am I glad I didn't have that done first, which apparently my oncologist did want.  It takes about an hour to have it put in.  It's done in the radiology department because they use an ultrasound to locate your veins (I have good ones!), then they take an x-ray after it's placed.  It's titanium, purple, and about the size of a quarter. It's under the skin, so it will be a little bump after it heals, and they can poke it to put things in (chemo drugs, CAT Scan dye), and take things out (blood).  I now have to have my blood pressure taken in my legs for awhile. 

It was an all woman team, and the nurse practitioner who did it has done about 3,000, so she obviously knew what she was doing.  And I was wide awake (they use a local anesthesia - like going to the dentist), they tell you all about while they are doing it.  Most of the hour is prep time.  It really didn't hurt while they were doing it, but it started bruising immediately, and by the time the local anesthetic wore off I was very glad I still had over half a bottle of the 'good stuff' left from surgery.  Who knew having something surgically implanted would hurt more than having something removed? (I mean besides Pamela Anderson and most of the Housewives of Atlanta?) 

I spent a couple of nights sleeping with my arm on a pillow, and I had a minor freak-out when I saw how much bruising there was when I was allowed to remove the bandage, but it's better now, although still a little sore and a bit annoying.  I was excited last night that I could actually roll on to either side while sleeping.

So I have one more week to heal before chemo starts.  Six courses, every three weeks.  Then daily radiation for 6 weeks.  Why still chemo and radiation if it's all out?  Well, there is no way to tell if there isn't some sneaky cancer cells lurking somewhere.  The type that I have is more aggressive and prone to returning, so the chemo will kill any lurkers anywhere in my body, and the radiation gets them directly in the area where the tumor was. 

I also agreed to participate in a small clinical trial which is testing an over the counter medication that is thought to reduce neuropathy (tingling in feet and hands) and may help prevent having all of my finger and toe nails from falling out (!).  There are 380 people in the trial - so I have a 50/50 chance of getting the placebo.  The male nurse in oncology that is tracking the study is cute, so I figure if nothing else, that's a nice distraction. 

I got prescriptions for anti-nausea meds (one of which the brand name is $800, amen for generics!), a 'total cranial prosthesis due to chemotherapy induced alopecia'(WIG), and a handicapped placard.  I hit the BMV today and was pleasantly surprised to only have a few people in front of me (and no one hacking up a lung in the waiting area). 

The other thing that I am very thankful is my wonderful posse of friends.  The flowers (my dentist sent flowers, how sweet is that), cards, hand knit hats and scarves, mittens that look like puppets, Elmer Fudd hat with flaps, tea mug, jams. stuffed buddies, ornaments, gift cards, phone calls, and e-mails, along with offers of help, have really helped make this whole whirlwind of becoming a cancer warrior, a whole lot easier. I love you all.

To those whose behavior has ranged from blase to baffling - no, thanks.  I don't have the energy to deal with your issues, your inner child, or your inability to deal with the reality that the world does not indeed revolve around you.   Because right now whether you like it or not, the world revolves around me.

I am saving all of my energy to fight cancer, and I'd like to stay as happy and stress-free as possible during the trip. 


  1. You go, girl!
    Sounds like you are doing great. I did not have a port, so I got nothing for you there. Hopefully the pain now makes what's ahead a bit easier (that is their theory, isn't it?). Glad for the clean margins!! Woo hoo!! Oh, and when I got the "wig prescription" it said "Cranial prosthesis"!!! Too funny.

  2. Prosthesis - that's what I meant. Although totally replacing the cranium isn't totally a bad idea. No matter how many times I proof, I always find a typo, that's why I sort of felt sorry for the Chest Paint person.

    'Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow' Head Shaving party and Chuck-It Bucket Bedazzling party coming up next....Stay tuned.

  3. Amen Tami! You are an inspiration to so many!


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