There’s nothing like a dose of reality to make a girl feel crushed. But then again, there isn’t much better than a long nap and a drink of ice water to make this girl feel better.
Cancer never felt more real than it did today. Even with a breast removed, the ‘C’ word doesn’t become tangible until the doctor lets slip those dreaded few words: ‘it’s chemo time, baby.’
So today (past tense) Zsolt, my mother and I go to the oncology outpatients centre. We are received and shown a room rather quickly (very quickly – last time we waited about 45 minutes, this time it was 10). The nurse asked me to put on the cape; I said ‘no thank you’ and didn’t, because that cape is terrible and cold.
Eventually the surgeon arrives with one of the breast care nurses. This gentleman is not one for flowery words. He gets down to it. Your cancer is a mixture of fast and slow growing cells, it has spread to four lymph nodes. You will, most likely, be recommended a course of chemo therapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy.
Zsolt shoots questions from the right corner chair.
Zsolt: What about the margins, are they safe?
My Surgeon: The margins are clear, but small.
Zsolt: And the blood vessels?
My Surgeon: Good question (points for Zsolt). They have tested clear, but we can’t be sure.
Zsolt: Has is spread beyond the lymph nodes?
My Surgeon: Result show no evidence, but because it was present in four lymph nodes, there is a risk of spreading. (minus points for me)
A few more questions from my mom, which for some reason I cannot remember, and then he bowed out and left the room. I tried saying thank you for removing my breast, but he waved it aside. I do not think it was a rude wave, not at all, it was a ‘don’t worry about it, this is my job and I don’t do well with flattery’ sort of wave. It was a respectable wave, but I’ll probably send a card nevertheless.
So crap. Fuck. And yeah, okay I am swearing. . . but come on. Never in my life would I choose to go through such physical bullshit, this black hole of shit (as one friend described), and to swear feels good. Really good. I’d like to spend an entire day doing nothing but swearing because at the moment I am so angry with my body, and so angry with my circumstances, that to open a big can of ‘what the fuck’ and shake it all over town would be really satisfying. I’d like to get a mega phone and turn it to sonic high and just yell, and yell, and yell about how angry I really feel.
The funny thing is, there will always be people who have it worse. Walking through the hospital is a stark reminded of that reality. It’s one reason why I turn my stride to speed-walk as I navigate the long florescent corridors of the general hospital; they have it much worse, and I don’t want to become one of them. That’s terrible, isn’t it? I know. I really know. But I’m desperate to not become a sick person in the hallway. Even if others look at me and feel the same kind of dread, I don’t want to ‘belong’. Though I am so very sorry that any person needs to be there. Everyone fights their own battle, and I’m finally starting to realize how difficult that can feel.
Anyhow, after meeting with the surgeon we met with the oncologist. He was a nice fellow, a little more sympathetic but still professional. He must deliver difficult news on a daily basis.
The friendly oncologist slowly unwrapped my situation. Essentially, he believes that without any further treatment I hold a rather high risk of reoccurrence. Particularly in young women with breast cancer reoccurrence is a concern. Seems like the cancer gets a kick outta young blood and has a tendency to ride it around the body, sometimes showing up again quite far from the original site.
He also explained that radiation therapy, chemo therapy and hormone therapy will reduce the likelihood of reoccurrence by about 50%.
AHHHH boy. Fifty percent. That’s only half the pizza.
But I need to do everything possible to improve my recovery – and to stop reoccurrence. I did not want chemo, but looking at the pathology it seems that chemo is a reasonable response. Not a happy one – but reasonable.
I know what I want: health, family, love, good things and great results. I know what I want. And just because I’ve been given a more difficult road doesn’t mean my eye is off the prize. It may be the doctor’s job to break tough news, but it’s my job to rebound and fight on.
Gotta keep throwing those bombs, gotta keep fighting back.
The reality of chemo has been difficult today. But people get through, don’t they? Many people get through and go on with their lives. Like I said before, I look forward to normal – my just like always. So long as that’s in my mind, I can fight.
Next come the decisions. Do I stay or go back to Canada? One thing is for sure, I will not leave my husband. Not a chance.
When I started Bumpyboobs I had hoped to write a light blog about breast cancer screening. There is so much out there that scares me to read; I feel a sense of dread while reading the experience of others, and I never wanted this blog to inspire that feeling. But this is cancer, and emotional highs and lows are inevitable.
But I do promise this – I’ll try and write the high as often as I write the low. I can be angry one moment, sad the next, and then the sky may clear, or I’ll pass a rose bush, or my husband will blow a kiss, and suddenly it’s all highs and smiles once again.
This blog is not just about breast cancer. It’s about the good and the bad and the fight inside.
Keep an eye on the prize. These down moods can’t last forever; there are better things to come.