Posts Tagged ‘Surgery’

Today I took the bus to the medical center to have a small metal clip, about the size of the point of a ballpoint pen, installed in my … well, in my tumor. Sorry, I know that’s gross. It was not a very comfortable procedure, but it didn’t take long and was not a big deal. I even got to listen to my iPod while they were doing it, which was nice – OK Go makes fabulous minor surgery music. As it was explained to me, the purpose of the clip is to show the surgeon where the cancer is, on the off chance that chemo shrinks it so much he can’t otherwise find it. I consider it rather unlikely that a 3cm tumor will shrink that much, but apparently it sometimes happens. Along with my port and (as of next week) shiny bald head, the clip will serve as further evidence that I am, in fact, from the future.

After a lunch of jerk-flavored barbecue wings (I felt like a treat after the clip, and Buffalo Wild Wings is basically the only non-doctor thing in that part of town), I went to get an echocardiogram. The clip represents the hope that chemo will totally shrink my tumor; the echo represents the fear that it will damage my heart. They wanted to get a few pictures of my heart in its pristine state so that they can tell, later on, what they’ve done to it. The good news is that my Bloomington and Buffalo oncologists agreed not to give me the chemo drug that can cause irreversible heart damage (and leukemia, which would REALLY piss me off), but the one that causes problems that can be fixed.

The nurse who did my echo was the second medical professional to remark that my having cancer is “unfair.” I pointed out that it’s not really about fairness; besides, do I really deserve cancer less than an older woman? I should probably try not to be difficult, but seriously, what do I gain by whining about unfairness? It’s unattractive in children and it’s no better now.

Anyway, that’s all I have until Tuesday, when I get my first (four hour!!) chemo treatment. Josh has volunteered to read me The Two Towers while that’s going on; hopefully we’ll get through all the deadly boring Legolas/Gimli/Aragorn nonsense and see what’s happening to my plucky hobbit friends at some point. In the meantime, tomorrow I’m invited to a dinner party/reading of The Tempest, my very favorite Shakespearean play. I have called dibs on Caliban, which means that soon I can cross an item off my List of Life Goals. Technically I believe I wrote “play Caliban,” but this is close enough. You taught me language, and my profit on’t is I know how to curse!


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The other day, a woman at Roswell’s education and outreach center loaned me a book called Show Me: A Photo Collection of Breast Cancer Survivors’ Lumpectomies, Mastectomies, Breast Reconstructions and Thoughts on Body Image. It took me a little while to work up the courage to peek inside, but when I did, I found it wasn’t that scary. The women in the book stood there, most with huge smiles, and revealed their scars. All were different. None looked anything like me. But they had all gone through some version of what I am going through, and come out the other side.

If I decide to get the mastectomy, I know exactly which woman I would use as my model. She had a double mastectomy, and she was the first one I turned to when I first opened the book. She looks like a teenage boy with two big scars. That’s not scary at all. I could easily live with that.

One woman in the book was only 21 when she was diagnosed, and she sticks in my mind for obvious reasons. Her cancer came back, then it was in her brain, and then she died. I think about this woman a lot.

My mom says that I have to take the book back. Put it out of your mind, she says. Let it go. I guess my parents and J don’t see the book the way I do. My mom seems to think it has bad vibes. But I see these women as sisters in arms, and having the book comforts me. I don’t personally know anybody who survived breast cancer. But somehow the Show Me book makes it okay.

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