Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quit With the Puppy Eyes, OK?

I understand that I have cancer, and that most people don't know what to say or do.  I didn't want to post this article, because it might make it sound like I want you to come clean my house.  I do NOT (yet) want you to come clean my house.  I do, however, appreciate many of the thoughts expressed.

I know that some people freak out and cry forever about a cancer diagnosis.  I know that everyone reacts differently and none of those reactions are wrong.  Let me clear the air.  I am dealing with this one day at a time, and laughing all the way.  You need me to help with that big order?  Sorry.  I can't.  I have cancer.  (insert big laugh here.)

I've been patient, and will continue to be so.  However, if you read this, that means you give a shit about me, so here goes:

Please, under NO circumstances, should you look at me, cock your head to the side like a sad puppy, and ask, "How ya doin', Rachel?"  How am I doing?  I have cancer.  I'm  not undergoing treatment right now, so I feel the same as I did 6 months ago.  Physically, I'm fine.  Emotionally?  I have very close friends and family to keep it pulled together.

I had a friend/coworker suggest that I develop tourettes when someone does this.  "SHIT DAMN ELBOW BUTT CANCER REFRIGERATOR ASS NO!"  I'm not sure that's the right reaction, but it made me laugh.

If you see me crying, an offer of comfort will be welcomed.  If I'm working along at my desk, let's just carry on, OK?  You won't see me crying at my desk, however, unless someone does the puppy  head-cock at me. THAT makes me cry.  The cancer doesn't.  Not yet, anyway.  I don't want it to win.  Right now, I'm making inappropriate jokes and waiting for the next Dr's appointment.

Can we move on?  I'll let you know when I need something.  I promise.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

I haven't posted because I don't know a darn thing.  We're still waiting.

Waiting to hear when the last couple of tests will be scheduled.
Waiting for my appointment with the plastic surgeon next Wednesday.
Waiting to find out when the surgery will be.
Waiting to win the lottery.

I threw that last one in there as a test.  All of the other things WILL happen, so if that is up against those things, maybe it will happen too!

Waiting kinda sucks.

Friday, March 23, 2012

More of the Cancer Chronicles

I got a couple of calls today.  The first was from the genetic testing.  I was negative for the changed chromosome that is a precursor for cancer.  What does this mean?  It means that I got this "just because."  I don't have to have my kids tested, their kids tested, my brother and his kids tested, etc.  I hadn't told my family yet (other than the girls,) but if it had been positive, I'd have had to call family and beg them to get tested.  Thank God I didn't have to make those calls.  It also means that I'm not at any more risk to get cancer again than you are.  It's nothin' but a thing.

The second call was the surgeons office, telling me that they'd set up an appointment with the plastic surgeon.  That will be on April 4.  This means that I will NOT be having surgery within the next 2 weeks.  After this appointment, they'll tell me when the surgery will happen.  In the mean time, I have to get the EKG and PET scan.  That gives me at least 2 weeks to keep things going at work.

PHEW!  That's enough for tonight.  Both girls went to spend the night with friends tonight, so I'll likely forget the dishes and just crash early.  Tomorrow?  Kevin and I are having a date day.  Not a date night.  An entire date day.  No telling what we'll do, but we're doin' it.  Sweet!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Oncologist Appointment

Ok, so we went.  the PDAS was in full swing today.  I was jittery, my legs were numb, my chest was tight, and I was light-headed.  After the appointment, I was ready to skip to the truck singing.  My husband has bad knees, so I didn't.  Still, naming the affliction has helped me laugh at myself and move along.  My blood pressure is normally 110/60 or something similar.  At the beginning of the appointment, it was 141/67.  LOL  What a moron.

Anyway, I was told that I do NOT need chemo before surgery.  That was a glorious thing that made the heavens open up and made me have jazz hands.  Not really, but almost.  She (the oncologist) and the surgeon want me to have an EKG and another thing.  I thought I heard Pet CT and then I doubted myself and thought I only heard CT and Kevin thought he may have heard both.  Yes, we are freaking out, but whatever it is, I have to have it.  That's fine.  Tests don't make me get PDAS.

After those tests, I'll see the surgeon again.  I could be cut upon in less than 2 weeks.  I'm OK with that.  I'm ready.  After surgery, she said we'd start chemo in a month or so.  We both questioned that.  Ummm, if you get it all (I'm opting for mastectomy, based on the size of the tumor) and the lymph node you take is clear, why would you do chemo?

Her answer was that there could be that "one cancer cell" that has moved on. want to put poison in my body "just in case?"  We'll decide later, but I'm not sure at this point.  If they say they got it all and the lymph nodes are clear, jazz hands WILL come out again.  I'm just sayin'.

Today, I am fine.  I still feel great, and get to continue to feel great until surgery.  That was an amazing thing to hear.  That was almost as good as "Insurance pays for reconstruction."  Not quite, but almost.  Come on!  You know you have it in you!  Jazz hands, everyone!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Please Excuse Me. I have PDAS.

I know about PMS.  This feels a lot like that, but it's not the right time.  Sorry, guys.  I should have warned you about THAT, but I didn't.  Too late.

I had a freak-out sort of day.  Last night and today have been tough, and now that I'm seeing a pattern, tomorrow will be rough, too.  My Modus Operandi is to freak the HELL out before an appointment, and then be fine as soon as it's over.  Whether the news is good or bad, it's news.  I need information.  Waiting sucks.  It is Pre Doctor Appointment Syndrome.  I suffer it greatly.

Tomorrow is my oncologist appointment.  I will find out what medication will be involved to help me kick this thing's ass.  I find out if I'll lose my hair.  I find out if I'll be too exhausted to work at the level that I want to during this thing.  It doesn't matter.  Tell me I'll kick it's butt, and I'll do what you say.  It's just the unknown that is killing me.  It did last week, too.

So, I suffer from PDAS.  I'll be about to pass out on the way into the Dr's office, and fine when I walk out.  Just like last week.  Now that I can name it and recognize it, I plan to laugh at the tears.  Laugh at the shaking hands.  Laugh at the stupid reactions I seem to have to certain things.  We're out of rice?  WAHHHH!  LOL

Sorry.  You can't judge me right now.  I have PDAS.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One More Step

They called this afternoon.  I have an appointment with the oncologist on Thursday afternoon at 2:30.  That's when I'll find out what they want to do, medically.  Chemo?  Radiation?  Both?  Who knows?  I will know by Thursday evening.  After that, it'll be another appointment with the surgeon (early next week) to get our final game plan in place.

If I am to do chemo, I'll likely start nearly immediately.  WAH!  Yes, that is freaking me out more than the other stuff.  Yes, I know.  Yes, it will grow back.  Yes, I'll feel good again after.  Yes, I know.  Hell, I'll cry about what I want to, OK?  Today I cried because I won't get perfect attendance this year.  Stupid?  Yup.  I'm really proud of perfect attendance, and I'm looking for little things to freak out about, so I don't freak out about having cancer.  Later, I intend to cry over spilled milk.  Try to stop me.

OK, that made it sound like I'm crying non-stop.  That's not true.  I functioned at work JUST fine today.  I'm doing fine now.  There are just certain times that I need to cry.  Hell, let's keep it in perspective:  I cry at the Folgers Christmas commercials!  I cry at greeting card commercials.  I cry at sappy movies.  It's what I'm good at.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Lymph Nodes 2, cancer 0

The ultra sound I had after the mammogram and during the biopsy indicated no cancer in the lymph nodes, but MIRs show more details.  I had the MRI on Friday, and thought it'd be Tuesday or Wednesday before I heard about results.

I have a smart phone that I love most things about, but the vibrate feature is VERY weak.  I took it out at 4 this afternoon, and saw that I had a voicemail.  It was from the surgeon at 3:45, saying he'd try again after his 4:00 meeting.  Crap.  I immediately took it off vibrate, and turned the volume to "high."

While I was on the way home, he DID call back.  He had the results of the MRI.  It agrees with the ultrasound that the cancer is NOT in my lymph nodes.  I have some BADASS lymph nodes, ok?  There is no way to know, with 100% accuracy, that they are clear, until after surgery when they remove at least one.  I'm still taking this as WONDERFUL news.  NOTHING has suggested that it's there, and TWO things have suggested that it's not.

The other thing is that the right breast is fine.  Nothing at all and no need for concern.  After several comments that "insurance has to cover reconstruction," I started doing online research.  It's TRUE!  There was a law passed about it.  SWEET.  That made my decision to do the mastectomy instead of begging the surgeon to try to save it.  Oh  yeah.  There's another reason for THAT, too.

Instead of two tumors, like they thought, the MRI indicates that it's likely one tumor, shaped like a dumbell.  (shut it!)  If that's true, it's a bit over 6 cm.  Wow.  The surgeon said that may rule out lumpectomy, but we've pretty much ruled that out for ourselves.

His nurses will schedule an appointment with an oncologist this week, and I'll likely be in surgery within 2-3 weeks.  Oh.  Another thing, for anyone who hasn't been close to this sort of thing:  I need a surgeon and and an oncologist.  That is a cutter, and a medicine guy.  I've seen the cutter, and will see the medicine guy this week.  Medicine guy decides if I'm a candidate for chemo or whatever else, and surgery will likely be within 2-3 weeks.

OK.  That's it.  I'm doing better after each appointment or conversation with those who know what they're doing.  I'm crying when I have time to do so, but it's not all sadness.  It's just overwhelmed.  I'm overwhelmed with information, overwhelmed with love and caring from friends and family, overwhelmed with the parts of life that must go on, and overwhelmed with worry.  Still, I'm feeling better.

Sorry this turned into a cancer blog.  LOL  Not as sorry as I am that I got cancer, though.  :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Information Overload

Information I've got.  In spades.  Although we still don't know a plan of treatment, the surgeon gave us a TON of information.  It doesn't appear to be in the lymph nodes, but the MRI tomorrow will help prove that (I think.)  Until the results of one test from the biopsy (due next Monday or Tuesday) and the results of tomorrow's MRI (due next week) and the results of the genetic test (maybe up to 10 days,) we won't know the plan of action.  Surgery WILL happen, but we don't know if it's a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.

Because there are two tumors, several cm apart, a lumpectomy would be difficult, so the surgeon seemed to be leaning toward mastectomy.  I guess that would solve the gravity-with-age issue, huh?  If radiation is involved, it would be EVERY week day for SIX weeks, on the plaza (which is about 50 miles from home, as opposed to the 40 I drive for work.)  If there is chemo, the hair will go.

There are some ego-type thoughts going on here.  I know it's temporary, but it's concerning, nonetheless.  Don't judge me.  I have cancer!  LOL  Radiation involves a ton of long trips to KC that will likely make me feel like crap.  If I lose one or both breasts, will insurance help with reconstruction?  I doubt it, but I'll check.  If I lose my hair, do I go with bandannas, hats, or scarves?  None of those match my T-shirt and jeans style.  OK, enough about those fears.  Whatever it takes to make me  stay alive will be what I do, and I leave that to the skilled professionals dealing with this mess.

They sent me home with a ton of information to read.  It's not the lame type brochure you see in Dr's offices, either.  It's real, good, well-done stuff.  As I went through it tonight (skimming) I was quite impressed.  My boss is being super great about what needs done.  I'll inform my customers (who don't already know....Michelle Brown stalks me on FB, LOL) soon, so they'll know that there are times I'm gone.

To end on a light note, I'll give you some wonderful quotes from the day, uttered by my husband Kevin:

"Wow.  Cancer ain't for pussies or po' folks, huh?"
"I got cancer, and all I got was this lousy handbag."
"I want you to know, I have not bought ONE gun that has cost as much as this cancer has cost us already."
When the Dr. said, "I've done all the talking, I want to hear you say something."  Kevin said, "Shit!?"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Here We Go

I'll know the details in 14 1/2 hours.  It's HORRIBLE to wait.  I HATE waiting.  Tell me now, good or bad.  OK, it won't be "good," as in "Hey, we were wrong!"  but there are better and worse scenarios, and I need to know.  NOW.  Sorry.  I've never been good at waiting.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

I had a great/terrible day.  My friends made it awesome, but work was really hard.  I can handle hard work, but today was different.  Maybe because I'm 36 hours from knowing all the details of the cancer?  I was just a bit teary all day.

I didn't break down, and I didn't cry.  I'm still OK.  I just keep building my list of questions for the surgeon, and keep on keepin' on.  I know life goes on, and I'm thankful that life goes on.  I'm thankful that I'm still super-busy at work.  However, there are short moments during the day that I wish I could shut down for 3 minutes, cry, and then move on.

I won't, and I'm fine.  I just had a day.  I think the biggest problem was, "Happy Birthday!  You have Cancer!"  That's probably it.  I don't know, but I'm guessing.

I need to get Thursday's appointment over with, so I know what we're up against.  After Thursday morning, I'll be fine.  That's the plan.  Fine.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Don't KNOW!

I knew this morning would be rough.  I knew everyone would want more details.  I don't KNOW details.  I will meet with the surgeon on Thursday, and I have already started my list of questions.  Kevin is going with me so I don't miss/forget anything.  It's usually ME doing this for HIM.  LOL

So, I went to work with the same attitude I've had all weekend.  I joke.  Someone put an order at my desk and I said, "I can't do all this work.  I have CANCER!"  I wanted to puke out that C word as much as possible, so my workmates could get used to it, and learn to say it.  I made my girls say it this weekend, too.  They're doing better.

It's cancer, and that's all I know.  I'll know more Thursday.  Until then, let's see how many times I can play the "cancer card" at work (and at home.)  Tomorrow's my birthday, and I'll be able to say, "Please do _____ for me.  It's my birthday.  And I have cancer."

Evil?  Me?  Yeah, probably.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Have Spaghetti

Don't pity me.  Don't cry when we talk.  Don't give me that look, OK?  I'm the same person I was on Wednesday.  I'm the same person I was last year.  Let me feel sad when I need to, and let me  be happy the rest of the time.  Don't put your "sad" on me.  I don't have the time nor the inclination to comfort YOU right now.  I'm sorry this is inconvenient for you, but it's happening.  Do me the same favor my family is doing:  Laugh with me, ask the questions you want to ask, and let's move on, OK?  I haven't been given a death sentence.  It's cancer.  Let's all say the word out loud.  Cancer.  It's not the same word as "death."  See?  You can say it.  It doesn't hurt you to say it.  It doesn't even hurt ME to say it.  "Cancer."  It's just another word.  Like "spaghetti."  Heh heh.  That made me laugh.  I have spaghetti.  I have breast spaghetti.  That's some funny shit right there.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma

That is the most common type of breast cancer.  It is the type that, as I found out via phone call at 4:45 this evening, I have.  I will see a surgeon on Thursday and know more.  For now, we are freaking out, making inappropriate jokes, freaking out, informing the family (which is something you do when someone dies, so it feels weird and wrong) and freaking out.

Each joke I make is met by "Mom!  It's too soon!" so I should probably back off a bit, but it's what I do.  I joke.  What do you call a.....never mind.  It's too soon.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

An Amazing Day with Family

It's been a LONG time since all four of our kids were in the same place.  We had them all today, and most of their family members as well.  I can't stop smiling as I look through all the pictures on Facebook.  Here are my kids:
They get along so well these days.  Well, not always:
I add the boy's ladies, and their kids:
And I'm smiling.  No, I'm beaming.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Should Be In Bed

It appears that I'll drive the Tepid Neon to work tomorrow.  The hood is black, but it's driveable, giving Monica's truck back to her.  If it does well, I'll be good to go.  We  may even have it back to all red in a couple of weeks.  Then, it will be luke-warm Neon.  LOL

Oh, and I had a Dr. appt this morning.  Why do you have to wait at least three times as long as you're seen by a medical professional?  I mean, it was an EARLY appointment!  How much could change in 45 minutes?  Go ahead.  Leave me half naked in a cold room for 20 minutes.  I don't mind.  That's not awkward at ALL!