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Friday, August 7, 2009


"Go Placidly....amid the noise and confusion."

Seriously, there is nothing very placid about a cancer diagnosis; there certainly is a lot of noise and confusion once you've got the diagnosic code for "abnormal and uncontrolled cell division."

So, for those of you just joining the journey, on July 20, I found out I most likely had breast cancer. Onward to biopsies on the 21st and diagnostic mammo on the 23. Just a word of advice: If you find yourself in this position, attempt to have the mammo done PRIOR to the biopsies. While they bill a regular mammo as "uncomfortable but not painful" one done on an already bruised, swollen, stitched, and cored ta-ta really goes beyond "uncomfortable." Same is true for the ultrasound. Just sayin'.... However, if you ever are in this position, Theresa at Wood County Women's Care is the person you want in your corner. She's amazing at getting done what needs to get done, and fast.

So, the 20th was a Monday and that Friday, while at a soccer tournament, I got the "your pathology is back, do you want to come in and I can read it to you or would you rather do this over the phone." Gee. It is what it is. If I leave the tournament, I'll lose my good parking space, and I'll have to haul this stupid chair all the way back to the car and then back to the next let's just do it here. No surprises, really. Got a script for Xanax out of the deal. Almost made it worth it (except that Kroger didn't check their answering machine for over 5 hours so the script wasn't ready when I went to pick it up...that wasn't a public moment I'm particularly proud of and it involved me saying things like, "Do you realize what that prescription is for??? I'm on the verge of totally losing it here and once I do, putting the pieces back together won't be easy..." and other things involving words young children shouldn't hear...I did get applause from a couple of other people in line, one who also had had a prescription called in before noon and it also wasn't ready at 6:00, and his were for pain meds).

At that point, Xanax became my bff. That was Friday. Told two close friends over the weekend.

Then MRI on Tuesday and met with oncologist on Wednesday.

And at that point, the worst 1.5 weeks of my life were over. The meeting with the oncologist was actually a relief and I walked out feeling 20 lbs lighter. Just knowing something was great. Told the kids that night. Not so great, but I was very light hearted. For over a week, I'd pictured the worst. After the meeting and hearing the words "garden variety" and "totally treatable" I was almost giddy.

More tests.

MUGA (nothing so comforting as having the attendant say, "Here, carry this letter with you forthe next 48 hours because you now are more radioactive than what is allowable under the Homeland Security Act--otherwise, that was my favorite test because it was, in essence, a 20 minute nap in a darkened room), and CT scan.

I could write a whole entry on the whole "pick out a wig" ordeal. Probably 100$ wasted, but it is my opportunity to be a red head:)

This weekend, my sister-in-law is going to cut my hair really short. I'll have about two weeks to enjoy it. My hair will begin to fall out the day before classes start. I'm not really looking forward to the wig, but I'll give it a try. I am excited about accumulating scarves, hats, and turbans. 18 weeks of chemo; treatments every three weeks. That's about a semester. As I always tell myself, "I can do anything for one semester." Usually, that means teaching at 8:00 am and then again at 7:00 pm or facing one of those classes whose chemistry makes it hate me to the depths of my soul, but this is no different. After that, I'll continue with one drug for an entire year, but life will improve greatly at that point. So I decree, anyway.

Noise and confusion...Monday I get a port surgically implanted in my chest, and Wednesday I have my first round of chemo. I'm actually looking forward to 5 or so hours of nothing to do but sit around. The infusion nurse I met with yesterday said my biggest problem on chemo days will be boredom and urged me to have a friend bring in a great lunch to break up the time. OK, I can do that.

I hate to say I'm looking forward to all that is to come, but I believe Nike has said it best, "Just Do It."

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. A wise friend told me early on to assign cancer an emotion, any emotion but fear, and that's what I'm doing. I, along with the help of my awesome friends, am going to kick its ass. If that means eating 'effing kale every damn day, so be it. Putting green powdered shit in the Magic Bullet along with green leafy shit and calling it tasty, whatever.

You picked the wrong bitch, cancer. Seriously.


Jennifer said...

Hi Dawn. I'm just going to say all of this once, because given my personal history with my mother's breast cancer, I always feel like I am too tainted to talk to people currently fighting cancer because I'm bad luck or I'll remind them of the worst case scenario or something. Whatever. Anyway, for 15 years I've lived with varying degrees of terror and resignation under the absolute conviction that I WILL get breast cancer at some point and it WILL kill me. Reading what you have been writing in the last few weeks has been unutterably healing and inspiring for me. You've given me so much hope and so much to emulate and so much to think about. Anyway again, I want you to know that I am absolutely here, always reading your updates and thinking of you and sending you all the goodness and love that I can, but I will most likely be mostly quiet. I love you so much, as much as I can ever love anyone who has existed for me solely as words on my computer screen for a decade or so. :D

Karen said...

Count me in for an entertaining lunch on chemo day. Just say when. :)

Anonymous said...

Rock the house, Dawn. Cheering you on!

Theresa Williams said...

Totally treatable are two very excellent words. I am glad to see them here.