Thursday was a whirlwind of terror and hope. Thursday was an experience.
We started by taking the boys to school. The boys know I have cancer. They basically figured it out for themselves. At different times on Tuesday, each boy came to me and said, “What’s wrong?” I told them I was having tests and that I would find out today what was going on. Each boy asked me, “Do you have cancer?” Wow… unexpected that they would jump to that conclusion so quickly.
I told them I might have cancer. Each boy’s response was identical. Neither boy was present for the other’s response but each boy ran to me, hugged me, cried and said, “I can’t lose you!” I wasn’t expecting any of that. I wasn’t expecting the conversation. Of course I reassured them that if I had cancer, we would crush it. I reminded them that we know people who have beaten cancer.
So then the diagnosis came and we all agreed we just have to kick this cancer’s butt.
And things have become strangely calm in our house. There are lots of hugs and “I love you’s” Lots of family snuggles and cuddles. Lots of reassurance and, yes, even some gifts. I took my younger child to his favorite store and bought him a pack of coveted Skylanders. “Why are you buying me these, Mama?”
“Because we’ve had a really bad week and we deserve something nice but you have to share them with your brother.”
When we got home and big brother saw the loot he asked me if having cancer makes you nicer. Hmph! Good thing I love that kid so much.
But to get back to Thursday, my husband and I walked the boys to school and then we walked back home holding hands. You know I am terrified when I need to hold your hand.
We drove up to the breast imaging center for my MRI. It was interesting. I got into the machine face down, belly down, arms over head with my boobs in a hole. No kidding. they put ear plugs on me AND noise cancelling headphones because that machine is LOUD. I had an i.v. in my arm because they have to inject contrasting dye toward the end. They told me most people don’t react to the dye. “You just get a metallic taste in your mouth.”
Uh huh. Right.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
So I basically meditated throughout the half hour I was in that ginormous machine with my boobs in a hole. I just counted my breaths and pushed out all the other thoughts because if I didn’t, if I thought about what I was doing here in the cancer center or if I thought of my boys and my husband or my family or the fact that my arms were starting to ache raised over my head this way, I was going to lose it.
But I didn’t lose it, I was doing ok. The gave me a buzzer to press if I felt myself flipping out but I was alright.
And then they injected the dye.
I was ok at first. I felt the taste and thought, “This isn’t so bad…this is ok.” and then SUDDENLY I felt this deep urge to toss my cookies. I pushed the button. Over and over and over. There was no where to barf and I wasn’t supposed to move…and this machine costs millions! Yikes!
In the end , I lifted my head and yakked in a paper towel on the side of the machine. The ladies doing the MRI came out and gave me a little dish to puke in and said “We can keep going if you don’t move your boobs. Keep your boobs still!” O.K. no problem.
So I finished, I put my head back down and we continued for another 15 minutes. No biggie.
I told the technicians, “You should just put a dish right under where the face goes.” They laughed and said “Oh! We don’t want to scare people!”
Irony. Am I right?
Well, I don’t want to wreck your machine with my vomit but ok.
So that was done. We headed over to the mall for breakfast . Then we wandered around. I kept getting panicked in almost every store. I would be ok and then suddenly I needed to leave. I needed to leave NOW. My husband was very patient. “Whatever you need to do, Honey.” So we walked and we sat outside and we went to another mall and walked some more.
And then finally, it was time to meet my plastic surgeon. Apparently, most people meet the plastic surgeon last but he’s our first visit on this rollercoaster. The breast surgeon is out of town until Monday and the Oncologist was meeting us that night. My Nurse Navigator said that she felt I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted so she set me up with Plastics.
The meeting went ok. It was surreal though. Just showing more people my boobs. And them taking pictures. Taking pictures of my boobs! The surgeon remarked that my boobs had no sag after breastfeeding two boys. I smiled and said, “Thanks for noticing.” 🙂
My husband was there for the exam. He told me when the doctor left that my right breast is black and blue from the needle biopsy I had on Monday.
“Really?” I said, “I hadn’t noticed. I haven’t looked. My right boob and I aren’t speaking to each other right now. I’m pretty mad at it.”
That made him laugh.
So then we went and had a bite to eat while we waited for our final appointment. I had a BLT. I wanted a shot of vodka but i thought it would probably not make the best impression to show up for a visit with a world reknowned oncologist in a liquored state. Tacky.
It was pretty late that night when we met the oncologist. A friend who is a Godsend was watching the boys. I texted that it was going to take a awhile.
I was terrified. There was so much we didn’t know that I knew we were going to learn. I had a chest xray on Tuesday and hadn’t heard any results. OMG was this crap in my lungs already?!!! We had not heard a complete pathology of the tumor. What kind of receptors did it have? Could I beat this thing? Did I wait too long to go in? Is this stupid boob going to kill me?
I do NOT want to die.
The nurse asked me to take off my shoes to get on the scale, so I stepped out of my flip flops and slipped on my own sweat walking to the scale. Sweat poured out from the bottom of my feet. I was sweating that bad. I’d been sweating all day.
This shit was real.
The Oncologist was lovely. She explained a lot and she put things into perspective. My tumor is “well-differentiated” which means it is slow growing. My lymph nodes look ok (although we won’t really know for sure until after the surgery). My chest X-ray was clear. HOORAY! My cancer receptors (Estrogen+ Progestertone+ and HEr2 -) well, they are all receptive to treatment.
And there is a small possibility that I might not need chemo. It’s a very, very small possibility but we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am prepared to do chemo but it scares the crap out of me.
It was a pretty good meeting, with a few hitches of concern that I won’t go into here as most are now resolved as non-issues, but this is doable.
Oh, and the doctor prescribed me Ativan. I do ok during the day but at night, it gets to me. I haven’t been sleeping at night. I’ve been crying, and watching comedies on the DVR (Mindy Project made me LOL for the first time all week…it felt good). Oh and I’ve been cleaning, at 3 in the morning. Anybody who knows me, knows how completely crazy that is.
I took an Ativan when we got home that night. I slept for 6 hours straight. It’s a start.
Our next big meeting is with the breast surgeon. I am leaning toward doing a double mastectomy with reconstruction. Radical, I know but I don’t want to worry about recurrence on the other side. I just don’t want to screw around with this and besides, I’ve never been particularly impressed with my boobs anyway. Who needs ’em, right?
Bring on the c-cups! Woot!
Thank you all for your support and positive thoughts. Please keep them coming. I may seem blase about all of this but I am terrified. I need your support and love to get me and my family though this.
I am going to beat this thing any way I can.