First I have a confession. I started this blog over a year ago in order to share my journey through the quagmire that is Breast Cancer treatment. I even named it "Boob Saga". But to tell you the truth, I was always so focused on getting to the next step, I couldn't get myself to write about the moment. I just wanted to get to the NEXT moment. Another confession: I started my journey with a bad attitude, and it kinda worked for me throughout treatment.
I'll start at the beginning. My General Practitioner totally nagged me for a couple years to get a mammogram (I was 44 and had never had one). Finally I wanted a refill on my ADD medicine, and she made me come in to her office for a checkup. After the checkup I was handed a slip for the mammogram. She held my Straterra hostage until I complied, (sneaky wench). This was right around St Patrick's Day 2008. So I had the mamo during which the girl re-did the left side, so I had a hint there was something up. About a week later I get a call that I need a biopsy on what she called a 'concerning mass". I refused to get upset about cancer until somebody told me I actually had it. Why bother right? I didn't tell anyone but my husband, until I was driving to the biopsy and had a moment of "shit...I must have cancer". They know it when they see it on a mammogram right? So I called my friend Missy who works in an oncologists office. I'm driving along, trying not to get lost (I get lost A LOT). I'm telling my best friend where I'm going, and I'm starting to feel a panic attack come on. But Missy who has HUGE boobs has been through a surgical biopsy of a lump which was negative or benign or whatever. I was glad I called her. So I went back to "I will not waste effort worrying now, I don't have time for this shit". Had the biopsy maybe a week later. Not the most fun. By the time the Dr came in, the Nurse had me twisted like a pretzel on this table with a boob hole in it. The lump was apparently at the very edge of my left boob, almost to my under arm. So I had to put the boob AND my arm through the hole. Then they put the boob in a vice for the duration of the procedure. The doctors expression upon entering was pretty comical. He looks at the nurse and nicely asks "I assume this is necessary" she assured him it was. She had done a bunch of mammograms while adjusting me so the doctor would know exactly where to drill. The doctor didn't show me the drill until AFTER the biopsy. Probably a good thing I couldn't see through that boob hole in the table. He even showed me the samples he had drilled out. They looked like worms in a jar of fluid. Very strange. A little creepy.
OKAY...so now the waiting game again. I was pretty distracted by just wanting to know what I was dealing with. The next week I get a message from a doctor who is covering for my G.P. but office hours are over, I have to call him the next day. Great...more waiting. I call the next day, and he gets right on the phone. That made me think it was bad news. Good news can wait, right? So he tells me they found cancer and he sounds so uncomfortable I actually feel bad for HIM. It must suck filling in for a colleagues vacation and having to tell some stranger crap news like that. Especially for such a nice guy. Oh, and I forgot to say what the date was. It was April 1st 2008. Yup...April fools day. I'm just warped enough to see the humour in that. My husband and I joked about it being THE MOST twisted April Fools joke ever. But it was real, so I had to start on the treatment road. My bad attitude in tact, I didn't have time for this shit so I'm pushing to get it over with. Chop chop. What's next? I never once worried about dieing. They said it was small and that was a good thing, and I believed them. More importantly I believed in myself. Not that I'm terrifically self confidant, but I am stubborn and tenacious!
That's my diagnosis story. I don't know if you will get anything out of it or not. I'm just here to give you the facts. If nothing else, I would like to make the point that I was incredibly lucky that my cancer was caught at an early stage after putting off getting a mammogram. Get those mammos ladies. The smaller it is, the better your odds of kicking Cancers ass. Catch it early. When I saw my G.P. and we discussed what happens next, she said "the next year is gonna suck, but you're not gonna die." I just love her.
OK....so I'm a pretty patriotic person. But I like my politicians to take care of the politics. I love my country and the fact that we are a melting pot of many cultures. I even like the fact that when there's trouble in another country, we stick our big nose in their business. I have always wanted to believe that our pushiness stems from the fact that our country was built on the premise that freedom is a right, given to us by our "creator". How can we stand by and watch others be oppressed while we enjoy this freedom, and have since 1776? We fought to have the specific rights that are outlined in the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. With the ridiculous election in Iran being discussed heatedly throughout the world, I think our good old declaration is pretty timely stuff. Check it out:
Are ya done? OK so the very first part the forefathers say exactly why the document was written. "When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." What a classy way to say we are sick of your crap, we're outta here, but we think you deserve to know why.
Next comes my favorite part: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights "Life, Liberty & The pursuit of Happiness" Did ya catch ALL MEN the part? That's part of why this document is so brilliant, and still makes sense today. (I don't even care that WO-men aren't mentioned!) We as a country made that statement, and stand behind it today. And we didn't declare the right to freedom selfishly, we said EVERYBODY should have them. Now some of the people we've elected (past and present) definitely forgot the "ALL MEN'' part. Apparently they thought it just meant the US or their political party, or their income bracket or whatever. But I believe that the vast majority of Americans would say that our forefathers meant everybody. And if another Country is fighting for democracy, the least we can do is speak out like our forefathers, and say this is crap, and freedom is something we are born with and needs to be protected.
I believe that in Iraq, we continue to fight to protect those rights. Whether there were "weapons of mass destruction" to find or not, there were horrific things happening to innocent people. What would our forefathers have thought of us if we hadn't stepped in? Lately with the scandals regarding treatment of prisoners, and even before that, questions about our motives for going to war, I have been watching our government a bit more closely. I don't think I'm alone. I really feel we need to get back to basics. Maybe every American should sit down and read the declaration of independence. It is not just an artifact, it is the foundation, and road map for our country. Then count your blessings that you don't have to fight to elect your president, even if like me, you feel you have to watch him other electorates more closely.
LASTLY TO THE IRANIAN PROTESTERS: THIS IS CRAP, AND I AM BEHIND YOU 100%.
I lost my mom to cancer in the springtime, when the tulips were blooming and all the foliage was coming back to life. I think of Miss Fancy Pants when I see Tulips and Hydrangea and other signs of spring, and this makes me very happy. And a bittersweet kind of sad. My father passed away many years before Mom, and there are many things that remind me of him as well. When kids are eating loudly I think, "my dad would have HATED THAT". And when I see certain actresses that he made lusty comments about I laugh. In my mind I can hear "ADRIENNE BARBEAUUUUUU" in his deep voice and see his bright eyes and raised eyebrows. (My dad was a difficult man, but he could be pretty darn funny and had the greatest facial expressions). I have mementos of both parents scattered around my house and they truly are with me all of the time. I have things like the old oil lamps my mom restored and an antique side table she loved. I had saved many cards and letters she sent me through the years, and cherish every one. There is a collection of books from when my dad was at Princeton studying English with notes in his handwriting on the sides of the pages that I feel incredibly lucky to have.
I read an Emily Dickinson poem this morning, that really got me thinking on this subject, so bear with me and I will post it at the end. It is called MEMORIALS and she states beautifully, in way fewer words, what I am trying to express here. There are things that have emotion and memories attached to them that are priceless. Some of them are tangible like cards and books, others more sensory like sounds and aromas. It is hard to believe when a loss is fresh, that we will ever find relief in these things, but eventually it becomes natural. I smile when I remember my parents and even if I didn't have the many physical reminders to look at and touch, There are "Memorials" everywhere. I know that every time I hear certain sayings I will smile and think of my Mom, because she had a million of them. And every time someone uses improper English I will always think of my Dad and how it hurt his ears to hear it. Now that spring is here my Moms memorial can be seen everywhere, and I hope when you see the Tulips and Hydrangeas and all of the trees turning green, you are smiling with me.