Sunday, February 22, 2009

Warning: the following may not be suitable for young children

No really, this post will probably be the most explicit. And the most angry (though i have chilled out considerably since friday morning). I apologize ahead of time for any use of profanity and if i start to make you uncomfortable with the frankness with which i talk about my can always click on the little X in the upper right corner of your screen. It will not hurt my feelings. I promise. That being said...

I'm not really sure where to start. Do i tell you about the appointment then explain what i Thought was going to happen? Or do i tell you what my expectations Were and you can watched them being dashed as i recount my fateful friday morning appointment.

In my small optimistic mind surgery was going to be my cure-all...yes the Dr. K and Becca had maybe mentioned that i would not really ever be cured...and mom and dad tried to explain that cancer would be something i had to deal with the rest of my life...But deep down i figured they were all wrong. I would have a double masectomy and all of my troubles would be over boobs equals no cancer...sitting in the large waiting area of the surgery floor i was thinking the appointment would be a piece of cake. I walk in, she tells me when surgery is, I walk biggie.

Instead, my surgeon (Dr. L) takes the blunt, direct approach and more forcefully than anyone before her hammers home the fact that i will not be cured. ever. not even with surgery. now that i have stage four breast cancer that has spread into bone cancer a clean bill of health is not in my future. For the first time since being diagnosed i was VERY angry with the midwife that batted my concerns aside when i was 22 which left my tumor another entire year to slowly develop and spread. I cursed her name (not specifically because i don't remember what it was...but you get the gist) and wished bodily harm upon her (not really but again you get the idea). Dr. L explains that we have 2 options.

Option 1- Have masectomy. which would leave me with only one boob on one side and a lone, long scar on the other. From there I would either...
a) wear a prothesis
b) convince and force a plastic surgeon to put in an implant
Then Dr. K would have to find a new way to keep track of what my other tumors are doing...most likely by PET scans and bone scans.

Option 2- Not have masectomy. This would make it easier to track the progress of the medicine.

Dr. L asked me a few very good thought provoking questions that she thought would make the decision making process easier.

1) Does it hurt physically?
2) Does it hurt pschyologically?

The answers were sometimes and sometimes.

It is not traumatizing for me to look at it every time i get out of the shower. But somedays I get tired of looking at it. I get tired of knowing that it is there. But the alternative of having only one breast sounds even worse. I AM ONLY 24! i am not some 50 year old (no offense) I want to be able to go to the beach in my favorite black bikini and not have this issue! I DO NOT WANT TO HAVE CANCER ANYMORE! I really just want it to go away. And as i'm having my shallow breakdown about not being able to feel normal or pretty or wear a bathing suit to the beach i start to cry. Because it is not fair. Its only the third time i've cried about Actually having cancer. The last time was when i got my hair cut (you can reread the previous blog on that if you have forgotten). I'm just a kid. and i want to have two boobs. Seriously. I dont want to take off my shirt and have one that's MIA. Its really hard to explain without sounding like a shallow ungrateful maniac. Some people have got it a lot worse than i do. But dammit i'm pissed. I want my idealistic cure-all back. And I do not want to have to live my life with stupid fucking cancer.

And i told my surgeon that it fucking sucks. And you know, she actually repeated the exact same sentiment in nearly the same words...minus the profanity of course...which is the first time a doctor has been honest...none of the "oh, we will fix you right up as long as your taking your meds and blah blah blah" she honestly told me that she could not make it better. And she was direct and sincere when she said "this really sucks"

So since she hadnt seen my boob since the day she diagnosed me she wanted to take a look to see if she could see any progress. And when she did the ultrasound she said that it looked like it had shrunk a lot. But it was shrinking from my chest wall out so the tumor was now concentrated mostly under my nipple. And being the brilliant surgeon that she is said she could do a lumpectomy (or more accurately a nipple-ectomy, though that is not a real medical term) where she would remove the nipple and the majority of the tumor that was below it. So i would have a horizontal scar going across my boob....but i would still have one! well i would have two total...but i would get to keep this boob and not be in the hospital for days or in tons of pain from a masectomy and reconstruction. And i would still be able to wear my bikini when summer hits. (Yay!)

But we have to run this all by Dr. K on the 6th when i have my monthly appointment.
And i'm still weighing all of my options and all of the pros and cons.
Maybe i'll make a Venn Diagram (haha those actually look like a set of boobs overlapping).

Saturday, February 7, 2009

a Roast Beef sandwhich

I know...there is much less time passed between this post and the previous one. But that is because i have something interesting to say. or something that i want to say.

Monday night Granny passed away.
Now she wasn't my granny by biological standards but whenever i addressed was as Granny. I have worked for Joe Pate for 5 years...and all of those 5 years Granny would come in during the week and bring Joe some magazines for the shop and grab a pepsi (or water if she had a doctor's appointment) but i really remember her coming in most Sundays after church to have a roast beef sandwhich at the bar with Bob or with the rest of the family. I was there when D.L. passed away who was her son...and i was extremely sad when Joe informed me at the beginning of august that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Wednesday afternoon i stood in the florist's shop and agonized over what sort of flower, plant, bush, basket, etc to have sent over to the funeral home for the visitiation. This was my first venture of this sort and i did not want to pick the wrong thing. Just the mere thought of picking the wrong one was sending me into a panic. My first time having to choose what a grieving family would receive in the face of something so terrible. When papa passed away i was devastated but away at school and it was easier to not think of these small details. With billy and memaw i was just on the outskirts not really involved with either...But i know that someone has got to care a lot to spend the time thinking of all of the small details such as which flowers and so on. And not to take a turn for the depressing but i hope people think enough of me to take time to pick out the right flowers to send. I send a basket with a pink bow. Because they made me think of her. And roast beef sandwhiches. And sundays sitting at the bar. And they made me think of my grandparents and uncle and how hard it is to do the right thing in that situation. But if you care enough, and if you make even the smallest of efforts it goes a very long way.

enough of that. Onto my cancer.

Had a check up with Dr. K on friday...things are looking nice and stable (his words not mine) he says i seem to be tolerating treatment well which is a wonderful sign (again his words not mine) well maybe he didn't say wonderful but you catch my drift. here is what he or we discussed

1) Before my shot my tumor marker went down by four...After my shot it went down by NINE. which is freakin awesome i think. He would like for me to do another round of testing (i.e. more sweetlife blogs to read) so we can see exactly how much the tumor has shrunk. the tumor marker started at 86 and is now down to 46 so he's eager to see what we've got going on next month.

2) He would like me to be a part of a trial that UNC is doing with Tamoxifen which would mean monthly trips to Franklin!!! YAY!

3) I meet with my surgeon on the 20th for a consult to get her opinion on a timeline and etc. for surgery (yay for getting new uncancer-y boobs! eventually. not immediately.)

I also asked him for some uppers to combat my fatigue. He said he could not assist me.