Archive for September, 2009


This ad grosses me out (and not only because that guy is eating a hot dog in the swimming pool, although yeah, ew):

Sure, breast cancer can kill you and everything, but (mostly) only if you’re a chick. So who really cares, right? Except that, as this ad gently reminds us,  dudes like looking at sexy sexy bosoms! And breast cancer poses a serious threat to said bosoms! What if the lady in the commercial got breast cancer and had to get a mastectomy – what a loss to dudedom!

If I were a guy, I’d like to think I’d find this kind of thing rather insulting.


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“For the rest of your life, whenever you feel any kind of twinge, you’ll think it’s cancer,” said Dr Edge at our first meeting, displaying an uncanny insight into my psychology. There was the brain cancer fiasco, of course, and then on Saturday when I went to get my eyes checked, the optometrist found something strange in one of my eyes. “Because you have breast cancer, and because the breasts are pretty near the eyes, I think you should get this checked out,” she said. “I’m referring you to a retinal specialist, just to be safe.”

And of course before she was even done talking I had imagined going blind, having my eye removed, the inevitable spread of the cancer to my brain, and my death.

My meeting with Edge yesterday calmed me considerably; he thought it extremely unlikely that I would have ocular cancer (which is very rare) or metastases in my eye. Still, I was glad today when the ophthalmologist told me my eyes were perfectly healthy and nothing was wrong. Crisis averted. Everything is super.

Every time I feel a twinge, I think it’s cancer. And I will for the rest of my life.

It’s going to be a long eighty years.

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Anger and Death

Last week I attended a support group for young breast cancer survivors, at which the moderator talked at some length about accepting our mortality. In particular, she argued that we must let go of the belief that we are entitled to live for a certain amount of time.  Each day that we live, and all the things that make each day worth living, are blessings – presents – not our birthright.  We should feel gratitude for what we have been given, not resentment over what we lack.

I’m on board with all of that, I really am. I am glad I am alive, and grateful for a thousand things. And that’s true despite the fact that sometimes my anxiety about the future and my grief and frustration at what I’ve already lost drown out those other, more user-friendly feelings.

We can, and must, acknowledge both sides of this experience. I thought Barbara Erenreich’s essay was interesting because it expressed reactions to breast cancer that I’ve rarely heard expressed. Is anger my primary reaction to cancer? No. Is it a legitimate response? Absolutely.

You know, it’s not all vegan cupcakes and frozen margaritas over here in Cancerland. I’m sorry if that comes as an unwelcome surprise.

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My least favorite color.

This was a very interesting essay.

Edge tomorrow with, I hope and assume, the pathology report from my surgery.

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Lentil Glop

To the Young Breast Cancer Survivors’ group last night, where we talked about dying, and the Gilda’s Club potluck tonight, where we didn’t talk at all, and I’m simply clawing at the walls for some non-cancer related socialization. A glass of wine and a completed job application later and I’m feeling less depressed. This weekend: driving the car, maybe new glasses and a long bike ride. Tomorrow: a German test featuring present tense regular verbs. After which I will truly need some kind of diversion.

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Early this morning, I had my breast clamped in a vice so that they could stick a wire in it. That was pretty much the low point of my day, and it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared; the shot to numb me hurt a little, but the procedure itself didn’t hurt a bit, and a kind nurse patted my shoulder the whole time.

Once this was taken care of, I went over to the outpatient surgery center, where, after some waiting, I was shown to my own little room and given a locker. They accessed my port (oh how glad I was about that – last time I had surgery they had to use my arm vein, and there was a very long wait in between setting up the IV and actually performing the surgery, and I had to sit their with my arm completely straight for about four hours) and I had just enough time for the crossword before visitors started to arrive.

First Dr Strange Edge came and told me at some length not to go kickboxing for at least a week. Then his fellow came to introduce himself, along with a medical student who assured me that I would not be able to look down during the procedure and see Edge scooping me out with a melon baller. Then the anesthesiology nurse came and, after one more brief Q&A, I was wheeled away to the operating room.

It was bright and freezing cold, and full of people in surgical masks. I saw on the big digital clock that it was 11:11, so I made a wish, and then the anesthesiologist said she was giving me something to relax, and the rest was silence.

Next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room. They kept me there for quite a while, trying to get my blood pressure up, during which time I was in and out of sleep. Finally they took me back to my room, gave me some apple juice, and sent me home.

The preliminary pathology report was positive – they couldn’t find any cancer, only normal tissue. Next week I’ll see Edge again for the microscopic side of things, but apparently he seemed very optimistic when he spoke to my parents. I feel fine now – a little drowsy, and a little sore, but mostly just glad to have something else crossed off my list. Surgery, all in all, was not a big deal. Now onto radiation!

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Surgery Update!

So surgery went well – they opened me up and couldn’t find any cancer, so I guess the whole thing was a silly misunderstanding. All the doctors apologized for the inconvenience, shook my hand, and sent me home.

Problem solved!

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