So I realized yesterday that I have a touch of Cancer. As I held my shiny new purple binder in my hand I let the idea of it do back flips in my mind. As I read through my shiny new purple binder I let it whisper in my ear and tell all of the neighbors. “She has a touch of Cancer.” Well actually my girlfriend told me that’s what I had as I sobbed to her and another friend almost incoherently on the phone. I gasped and sputtered and struggled to catch my breath as I told them about my shiny new purple binder. They patiently strained to hear and waited until I calmed down enough to string a sentence together. And then oh so knowingly my friend said “Yeah Babe you’ve got a touch of Cancer” and I melted into the moment and I knew she was right. “I got a touch of Cancer”.
Not the kind where you sound the alarm of all hands on deck to your family and friends because you are in for the fight of your life. Not the kind that your life completely stops and no one expects you to go in for work. Or the kind that your mom has to be on the next plane to sit by your side, take care of your kids and cook dinner while you loose your precious hair in the sink.
Not that kind.
Just a touch.
Just enough to get yourself a shiny new purple binder full of numbers that I might need and a Oncology Doctor and Nurse and Nurse Navigator and Free Yoga and Therapy sessions and free validated parking at a shiny new Cancer Research Center.
Just a touch seems to be enough around here.
Ok to be fair the Doctor told me a month ago. He said my ATHP had moved up a notch to DCIS. Commonly called O Stage Breast Cancer WTH?!!! Now mind you I was having enough trouble already understanding and pronouncing my ATHP, Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia. Which basically means you got calcium deposits that are hanging out in groups and getting kind of lumpy and well they’re making the Doctors kinda jumpy. Cool no problem let’s get those puppies on out of there. Now I should mention that I have been on a very slippery boobie journey with an odd cast of characters for 8 months now. And I have been a pretty mildly interested blasé passenger all along the way.
It started in August when I had my annual mammogram. I say annual very loosely cuz truth be told I was supposed to go in for it in May. Whoops. But hey It was my birthday, anniversary, then the summer and you get the picture I had things to do. So I finally made it happen in August. Afterwards they called to say that I needed to come back in again cuz “something didn’t look right.” I said sure no problem, I’ll get right back to you… in 2 MONTHS!!! HA!! Oh don’t look at me like that. This was my regular mammogram office routine. I think they love me there (though I don’t know anyone by name) and they always want me to come back. I have fibrous breast, so I expect that call. In fact in my house we’ve jokingly decided it’s just a medical scam to get more money out of us. Year after year I endure two mammograms a year while my friends only get one. Squeeze and Squeeze. Yikes, It hurts and it gets costly! So you can see why I wasn’t in the mood for their shakedown right away. I did feel slightly shame faced once I did return. While looking at my chart the technician mentioned she was happy that I had “found the time” to come back in again. Blink blink weak smile. But then when it was over, instead of getting dressed and heading out to finish my errands as I always do. I was ushered into another room and told a doctor would be with me shortly. Well, this is new. The Doctor comes in and lets me know that I truly have something that doesn’t look right. Sure ok fine what’s next? Well what was next was…Ultrasounds, MRI’s, Steriatic Breast Biopsy’s, More Mammograms, and a Biopsy Lumpectomy.
I drove myself to and from each appointment unwilling to enlist the working hubby or a friend cuz hey we are all busy and it’s just silly procedures anyway.
I got this.
In fact I did “have it” – mostly. Most procedures were fine maybe uncomfortable but nothing to write home about until I hit the Stereotatic Needle Biopsy. Now that was a revelation. Lying awake, face down and to the side. I was told not to move. With my boobie in a vice and a needle stuck in me while I dripped blood for 30 minutes and listened to the nurse and doctor argue about “where” the placement of the needle was supposed to be. REALLY?!! Finishing that only to have another Mammogram on the spot to make sure that the thingy they put in me was in PLACE. WT!!!??
I broke and cried all the way home.
Then I brushed myself off made dinner and rushed to get the kiddies.
It wasn’t even until I was gonna take a Uber to my surgical lumpectomy (the hubby was coming after he dropped the kids at school) that I had a mini intervention from a friend who insisted on driving me. Honey Sweetie Pie out patient or not you’re having surgery and it might be good to have a friend hold your hand. Yes and yes it was!
I cried after I came home. Not because of the surgery, that was fine I was sleep. But there was this business with putting in a “wire” beforehand that threw me for a loop. Needle, boobie, vice grip, wire, awake… UGH!
But hey that was all over. Atypical Ductal Hyperplasia GONE and calcium deposits WHOOSH out da Door!!
I sat down for a day or so then got back to life. School, kids, dinner, lunches, work, hubby,dog…Girl Scout Cookie selling….retreat planning, movie making I was so busy that I didn’t realize that I hadn’t heard from the Doctor. I mean I wasn’t really checking for his call. Sure I had some missed calls but I don’t know nobody from West Hills!!
Yeah Maybe Ya do Babe!
The Doctor finally tracked me down a week and a half later. I was on my way over the Canyon (bad cell service) to a meeting. He said something about me being a hard woman to reach. I told him I thought no news was good news. He said and I quote “No. No News is No News”! Blink Blink. Then I thought he said I had Caratonia whatever the heck that was but the phone got fuzzy and the call dropped. When he called back he got right down to business. He said I’m sorry but the lab reports came back and they show carcinoma you should come back in so we can talk about what’s next. I said sure… and went about my life. Yes I called my Mom and siblings and some friends had a mini cry. But I really didn’t feel anyway big way about it. I knew in the end I was gonna be fine, just fine. I didn’t sound an alarm. I felt no alarm. I received some flowers and chocolates from friends with messages to call if I needed anything. Well I was still running up hills and perfectly capable of doing everything. So I admired and smelled the flowers tried not to eat too much chocolate and kept it moving.
Because what do you do when you have a touch of cancer? I’ve made meals, given rides and sat by the beds of friends and relatives who have had Cancer real CANCER the one with all caps. I know what to do for them. There are kids to pick up, dinners to be made, treatments to get to, encouragement to lend.
But me and my touch of it – what do I do?
Until Yesterday happened. Yesterday turned my head all the way around and not for the reason you think. I looked up at all of those sweet kind Oncology nurses, and Doctors telling me all about my Cancer and sentinel lymph nodes and what to expect with my surgery and radiation. I was fine and fine until they got to the part of me and my boobies after radiation and then I cried! What?!!! Yep I cried. Not because I had a touch of Cancer but because I was hearing how this touch was getting in the way of my “new perky boobie vision”. See I have had a vision of new perky boobies ever since I finished nursing my babies. I just wanted “my” boobies but better. Full and plump again + a wee bit more. Not Vegas style or anything. Just the full stand up kind that you can wear a sexy backless dress, while you dance with your Boo and hang out in St. Bart’s topless on a beach. Don’t smirk it’s my dream. Those kinds of BOOBIES. Now I heard loud and clear through my information overload haze. I heard the nice Nurse telling me that after my lumpectomy and 35 radiation treatments (5 days a week for 7 weeks) I wouldn’t be a candidate for breast augmentation. Because radiation does something to your breast tissue and blah blah BLAH!!!
I just Couldn’t….
Poor nice and sweet Oncology Nurses so used to women busting into tears in their shiny Cancer Facility. They kindly calmed me down and assured me I could and “should” speak to a plastic surgeon NOW before my surgery so I could get my “perky boobie vision” Sorted!
But alas the damage was done.
I could feel it. Something had cracked inside and it was ALL rushing in on me…all the months… all the procedures… all the stress and the strain and the squeezing and the pressing, and the wondering, and the ignoring and the smiling and the getting on with it.
I was tumbling with the knowledge that.
A Touch or Not.
I had Cancer…
And I realized I had no idea what was next. And that I was in totally new territory for me. That I might really need “to call a friend” and maybe I would need things in my shiny new purple binder. I decided that most of all maybe it was ok to have a little compassion for me and my touch of Cancer.
So I called a friend and I let my hubby who has been my rock hold me tight as I cried. And I thought about finally telling the kids.
I thought about the movie I want to make, the work I still feel impassioned to do and the life I want to live. I thought about the warm beach I want to lie on with my honey for my upcoming birthday/ anniversary.
Before more surgery
and I cried and sighed…
For I realized I will be forever changed by just a touch.