Buffalo Cheese and CT Scan Results

Yesterday I was craving fresh (in water) buffalo mozzarella balls. So, I get Zsolt to drive me to the grocery store – where they have big buffalo mozzarella balls in water. I also picked up some chips. We get to the cash and neither Zsolt or I have our wallets! Not a penny on us! BAH!

I threw a little hissy fit of frustration, and then we hop back into the car and go back to the house – pick up the wallets – and head to a closer grocery shop (Sobeys).

So we go to Sobeys, except they don’t have buffalo mozzarella balls. They have cow milk, but that is not what I was craving. I love that sweet flavour with the buffalo. However, the chips here were on sale, so I pick them up and saved us a few bucks.

THEN we decide to go to Farmboy. Into the car we hop and cruise down the strip to the shop. In the shop I go. OH, one last package of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese balls. We grab ‘em and check out.

I get home, ready to dive in, when I see the seal isn’t sealed. The damn package was already opened! Not cool. (And I’m really starting to lose it – getting really pissed off.)

Back into the car, and back out – this time to a different Farmboy, since the last one only had one product left, which I bought and now wanted to exchange. So we go to the different Farmboy, and I grab their last package of buffalo mozzarella balls (checking the seal), and exchange the cheese.

FINALLY we get home, I take out some balls, and collapse in front of my computer to watch a show. Sweet, cheesy, salty bliss.

“What can I learn from this?” I asked myself

If at first you don’t succeed, try-try again.

I think the same can be applied to cancer. No matter how frustrating, it is worth pushing for what you want. In my case, to try, try again.

And I can say this so easily, because today I received good news. Today I have NOT been crushed at the doctor’s office. The CT shows good results, considering I’ve only received 2 doses of a new chemo treatment. Good results considering the last treatment didn’t have great impact.

I’m very happy, with a tinge of bittersweet – I can go back to work, but will still get this chemo every three weeks. Upside is that it is easier to recover from compared to the previous approach, even if it is tiring (so I can live my life a bit more as I also destroy cancer).

The MEGA upside is that it may be having a GOOD effect on KILLING the cancer. That blows any bittersweet feelings out of the water. Die cancer, die! MUHAHAAHAHA!

I said to Dr. Canada, “I didn’t expected good results. I was feeling defensively pessimistic.”

He nodded his head. “I think that’s a reasonable approach. But I’m going to be optimistic for you.”

So I said “Okay, you stay optimistic for me.” And I very much appreciate it, indeed.

Today has brought a couple pieces of happy news – from a surprise with my novel, to a surprise with my results. Steady onward, and we’ll see what happens next.

Considering I thought this would be a most horrible week, it has turned out pretty well.

The end.

P.S. I love this picture made by my friend James. Check it out 🙂

Who doesn't want to be compared to Katherine Janeway?!

Who doesn’t want to be compared to Kathryn Janeway?!

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It’s my Birthday!

Guess what? Today I’m officially 31 – a word to my thirties: I’m here, I’m in you, and I’m not letting go!

make a wishYesterday was something. Zsolt and I had a follow up appointment with Dr Canada at the hospital, so that pretty much consumed my thoughts. We were going to learn about tumour markers and hear what could be seen on the lung x-ray.

So, we get to the hospital and are pretty much immediately taken into a consultation room. The nurse says she’ll pass me a slip after the talk with Dr Canada so I can book my follow up appointment. And I was like, “Follow up appointment?” in my head. Not aloud. Follow up appointments are never quite the words you want to hear in a consultation room, particularly after the life-shaking news I received last time.

Anyhow, she left and Zsolt and I waited. And waited. And waited. Part of me had been calm going in there, but as the waiting continued another part of me started kicking up and wanted to just leave.

“Let’s leave,” I said to Zsolt, pretending to be joking.

He pretended to laugh.

For some reason I decided to dress nicely for this appointment. Yesterday I was in my high-waist blue skirt, stripped blue t-shirt, and blue canvas shoes. Zsolt was in his red t-shirt, blue jeans and white shoes. Together we looked like the American flag, which I guess was appropriate considering it was July 4th.

Anyhow, just as I’m sliding down in my chair onto the consultation room floor with all the nerves, in walks Dr Canada.

He’s smiling, he says hello, he gives me a hug. (After I sit back up.)

And all along in the back of my mind, as we exchange words and he tells me a little bit about the anxiety he realizes I must be feeling, I just want to know about the tumour markers. Finally he lets us know that the markers looked ‘normal’, and the markers specific to my situation looks rather ‘normal’. And that was great to hear.

The X-ray didn’t show the spots, which probably means they are too small. This, he said, was a bit of a disappointment because now I’ll need to be bounced around in my referrals before we can find someone to actually biopsy the little things. Therefore, that means I need to keep waiting.

Fucking torturous.

And then we talked about possibilities and options and treatments and scary stuff. They may be benign spots that resulted from a lung infection some people in this area can get, so there’s that as a bit of hope. The biopsy will really reveal all.

Some scary things were also said yesterday. Things I already knew, but I guess you never want to hear coming out of a doctor’s mouth. Stuff like breast metastatic cancer isn’t curable (garbage!). Stuff like woman do die from this. Stuff like some women live one or two years while others live many more.

Stuff I don’t want to battle, take on, challenge, fight, deal with, or acknowledge. Stuff I’d rather not have to consider.  (And I think it’s total crap that we are slapped in the face with this ‘no cure’ crap! Science – GET ON THIS ALREADY. Oh, yes, you are. Okay – GO FASTER.)

He also said that if it is metastatic I can basically forget about carrying a child. And if it’s estrogen receptive, I should consider removing my ovaries.

However, we have a bit more hope after that appointment, and small in good no matter what. Small is good. Not being cancer is the best. Let’s shoot for the best!!!

On another note, a happier note, last night I attended a bachelorette party. This is my first every bachelorette party – I didn’t even have a bachelorette party when marrying the Zsoltster.

Dress code said black dresses. Hmm. I paired a black skirt with a black tank top, and said, “good enough!” Can you believe I own no little black ‘going to a club’ dress? I guess I can believe it – black isn’t my best shade.

The party was for an old friend I’ve known since almost always. (She was an excitable, imaginative and trouble-making kid, who I got to see grow up into a beautiful, hilarious, and compassionate woman. You would like her very much.) She and I grew up on the same street, and while we weren’t tied at the hip or anything, it’s been good to have her there to talk to when it’s needed, and I’m sure its visa versa. I’m so entirely happy for her to be marrying such a lovely guy, and think there’s a lifetime of laughter and fun ahead for that couple.

Now, I’m not a natural party girl – I’m kinda the anti-party girl, particularly as of late – so I showed up with my bottle off fizzy water and was quiet in my corner as stories were passed around about the bride-to-be, and quizzes were taken, beads won, salads and Mexican food eaten. I met new people and caught up with friends from high school. 🙂

It was one of those nights when I could forget about the hard stuff for just a little while, just long enough to laugh and think of how wonderful the world can be for us. So I’m very glad to have gone, very glad to have been there for that moment, and kinda sorry I wasn’t in the mood to dance on any tables – though that really rarely (if ever?) happens anyhow.

Now here is a small miracle I’d love to see happen:  Dr Canada wants to look at my previous post-original-diagnosis CT scan from three years ago. If he sees spots on that scan, then I’m okay because this is probably just a result of that stupid infection people can get. If he doesn’t, then I need to have a biopsy to see what is going on – and that has a long wait time attached to it, plus scary possible implications. I wasn’t sure whether or not to talk about this, but I’ve decided to do so since your good vibes worked last time, so I’m hoping they work again. Please do send some my way, if that’s okay. And in the meanwhile I’m hoping, praying and writing for good results in all areas.

Next week I drop off that CT scan.

Week after I have a bone scan.

We want spots on the original CT scan, and a clear bone scan. That two things would be good. Good would be GOOD.

And, it’d be an awesome birthday present too.

Radiotherapy planning

Welcome to the land of radiotherapy: Witness the waiting room filled with glossy magazines; revel at the sight of chocolate bars on sale behind the counter; marvel at the doors, whose signage warns of radiation; tremble at the nurses calling you in for consultation. And get your parking validated, too.

Yesterday Zsolt and I went in for a planning session. It was really quite simple, and surprisingly we didn’t wait in the waiting room for an hour. They called me in before I could settle with a magazine.

“Catherine Brunelle?”

“Here!”

And in we went. I was taken into the CT scanning room, and the nurse explained the process.

“I’m Karen, and that’s Louise, and Shelley, and Amy, and Tanya.”

“Hi! Hi. Hello! Hey.” (a chorus of hellos from the nurses – all so very friendly)

“We’ll be scanning you today and making marks on your body.”

Apparently I was to have a CT scan, but no injections or dyes were needed (thank goodness, my last CT scan I had to drink a litre of Koolaid dye in about thirty minutes. Ugh).  The doctor would come in and put marks on my chest (around the scar/breast area), they would then line me up, draw more lines, take the scan and give me some tattoos.

Here is how you are measured: They have you put your butt against this cushion and lay back into a head rest. The table is a table, no cushioning. Feet are placed against some plastic slider that keeps them steady. Arms are raised together over the body, then back above the head into some arm rests. There’s some strange medical bondage happening behind hospital doors, but all in the name of health management. It reminded me of old torchure devices, except everyone was smiling and happy, and I wasn’t uncomfortable, and there wasn’t any pain. So maybe a torture device isn’t the best description . . .

The doctor came in and wrote with green marker around my right chest area. All the while I stared at the ceiling. Finally it was time for the CT scan. This scan is designed to map out the dips and bumps of my chest wall, as well as measure where each type of tissue starts/ends (e.g. lung, rib, skin, etc.). Therefore, when I get my radiotherapy, the machine will account for those differences and change so that my lung gets less radiation than my skin. It’s a good thing.

The nurses taped little wires and buttons to my chest according to the doctor’s instructions.  Afterwards the nurses and doctors left the room and the machine began to whirr. Slowly I was slid back and forth through a giant grey doughnut (CT machine) and something in that doughnut spun around me – this, I later was told, was taking x-rays in a spiral motion. The CT scan lasted about five minutes.

Finally it was time for the tattoos! Ugh!  Three permanent tattoos are required for radiotherapy: one in the middle of  my chest, and two on either side of my body. They line you up on a laser grid and mark the places.

Here is how they administer the tattoo: a drop of ink is placed on the body. The nurse then makes a semi-deep prick of her needle into your skin, through the ink. That’s all. I guess the ink seeps in behind the needle and stays. I now have three tiny, dark dots across my body. They are too small to resemble moles, maybe small blackheads is a better description. Clogged pores.

It could have been worse.

And after all this, the nurses gave me my schedule for radiotherapy. Guess what? I don’t start for THREE WEEKS! How bizarre. I feel as though someone has extended my vacation.

Finally, cherry on the top of my day, I took my fist tamoxifen pill yesterday. This drug is designed to scoop up estrogen before cancer can take advantage, and it’s intended to be taken for five years. We’ll see.

One step at a time – and look no further. For the time being I have three weeks off, which sounds pretty freaking sweet to me.

And that, in a nutshell, was the radiotherapy planning session.