Cancer Land – If the Kiddie Rollercoaster is This Much Fun, I Can’t Wait For the Big One

Note: If for some strange reason google has sent you here for an inspirational story about fighting cancer, you probably are going to be disappointed. I don’t plan to battle, fight or kick cancer’s ass. I’ll let the doctors and researchers do that. My goal is to get through it as best as I can, while wearing as little pink as I can, and mocking cancer and me as much as I can. I want cancer to slink away because its feelings are hurt.

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I am quickly learning that Einstein was right. Time is relative. It seems years since I’ve been diagnosed with cancer, and then sometimes it seems like hours. And yes – I’m waiting for you delightful nerds to tell me this is not what Einstein meant at all. Leave me alone. I have cancer.

I finally met with my surgeon this week. It’s a bit scary to call and speak to his scheduler because they always announce it’s the high risk center. My doctor was very nice. I got a basic physical. He did a manual breast exam. He asked if his med student could do it as well. I got felt up by six different people that day, all but one of them women. I figure it makes up for that lesbian experience I was supposed to have in college. He was concerned about a lump he felt on Deirdre (that’s the left boob).

I will never look at Sharpies the same way again. Deidre and Colleen have been sharpied into preschool like works of art. I’m thinking of hiring a painter who works with Sharpies to paint a mural of the Smokie Mountains on my breasts – that way all the doctor has to do is tell someone that he’s worried about Mount LeConte, and it needs to be checked out.

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When I asked my doctor about whether or not I would be able to have kids, he didn’t tell me no but mentioned how unlikely it would be. Then he spent a lot of time chatting and bragging on the beautiful children his son and daughter-in-law had adopted from four different countries. It was not a subtle message. He left the room and while I was waiting for the nurse to come and get me for another mammogram, my mom hugged me while I cried. Marcus and I have always wanted to adopt or foster to adopt one of our children, but being told that a biological child would be unlikely be in our future hit me hard. My mom stroked my hair while I cried. I asked her if she would buy me a baby like Angelina Jolie, and we both laughed and blew our noses.

For the next two to three hours, my mom and I waited in terror for the mammogram and ultrasound results for Deidre (she’s my left breast). Thankfully, it’s just fatty tissue. Deidre’s in the clear for now.

While I was waiting for the ultrasound results, I got the news that I was finally in the system for TNCare. Hooray! It’s still going to be a complete hot mess of administrative hell to get them to cover me, but at least they’re pretending they are for now. They had time for an MRI, and I had anxiety meds in purse. You can tell I was a Girl Scout because I’m always prepared! Note: potential muggers in our neighborhood, I actually don’t carry pain or anxiety meds with me on a continual basis.

My mom and I went out to lunch at Tea at the Gallery. The food is wonderful, it’s a calming place to sit and the owners and people who work there are lovely. I stuffed myself with carbs and asked for a pot of the most calming tea they had. Right before I left, I downed enough anxiety meds to down a horse with that delicious tea.

While waiting for the MRI, I began to have a panic attack about the impending IV stick. This always makes me feel so cool. I was given more Xanax and entertained the nurses by how coherent I was, the fact that I could pass a police DUI test while ingesting high levels of anxiety meds (totally could touch my nose with my eyes closed) and how Hugh, the Manatee, would be hanging out in the control room of the MRI. More on Hugh later. My mom pretended not to know me, a skill she’s grown very adept at over the years.

My frenemy, shitfoodblogger, has been toiling over his latest cookbook. I’ve enjoyed taunting him by telling him how much the traffic to my blog has gone up since I’ve gotten cancer. He’s currently trying to get cancer, but he’s so far behind that my cookbook ‘Baking with Boobs’ will get much more attention. Because I like to rub salt in the wound, I told him I would be live tweeting my MRI. That was until my husband reminded me that MRIs involved magnets, so my iPhone would get wiped out.

Thinking quickly, I had my husband fake live tweet it. I think he did a pretty good job:
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The IV stick was done with minimal amounts of crying. I was once again amazed by how every piece of equipment at this breast center was like the stuff at other medical centers, just with boob holes. I got ear plugs put in, my earphones put on, and my radio station turned to the 80s channel. Hugh was watching out for me in the control center. It wasn’t bad at all. The tech would warn me when the noise would get loud. I listened to ‘Come On Eileen’ subbing in ‘Colleen’ for every ‘Eileen’. I rolled my eyes when ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?’ came on and almost cackled when ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’ rocked on through my ear phones. I had to remind myself at one point that I probably shouldn’t sing along to ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. I also wish the scan had lasted a little bit longer, because “Bust a Move” had just come on when I was done.

The next day I went to an orientation session for The Cancer Support Community. It’s an amazing place that offers all different kinds of activities for people with cancer and their loved ones. My friend, Beth, teaches classes on cooking and nutrition. There are art classes, support groups, mediation groups – the list goes on and on. I’m so glad we have it in our community, and I am so sad that I ever had to visit it.

My mom could see I was upset, so we did a little recreational shopping. As we walked through TJ Maxx, I looked around for the “Welcome pregnant ladies and women with babies and small children – you get 50% off today” banner. Later on that day I realized my mom had strategically made sure I didn’t walk by the baby clothes, and I burst into tears. Two of my close friends are pregnant. Two have just had babies. I am delighted for them. They’ve already proven themselves to be wonderful moms, or I know they will be a wonderful mom to their first baby. My heart is full of happiness for them, while it weeps for chances lost.

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Friday morning, my period app on my phone flashed up the “warning” notification that my green week was coming up. Since my husband and I had decided to start trying to get pregnant this month, it rained tears in our bedroom for a while. Then I called and got the results for my surgery options. I’m a candidate for a partial or full mastectomy which is a nice way of saying that there’s no way I can get a lumpectomy. My body shut right back down to numb. I’ve pretty much stayed there ever since.

I’m so glad my family has moved down to Knoxville. Ironically it made me less worried, and I knew that it would be easier  to help them as they grew older. Now I’m leaning on them like I haven’t had to do in a long time.

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Something that I find very uncomfortable about cancer is how narcissistic I feel. When I talk to friends or family members, it’s about doctors appointments or how I’m feeling or what I’m going through or about to go through. I try to keep my friends updated on Facebook and Twitter, but I’m having less and less time to read what’s going on in their lives. I’m writing blog posts that have nothing to do with food, but are solely based around what I’m going through. I’m trying to keep up with comments, but that’s harder to do now as well. I know my friends and family are grateful to be there to support me, but I have a tough time accepting help and the entire focus of our relationship being focused on what I’m dealing with. I’ve had a couple of friends light into me and basically say “Kristina – we love you. Quit being a dumbass. You have cancer. It’s supposed to be all about you right now.” I still hate it.

Tomorrow I have a long consultation with my surgical doctor. I’ll get a better idea of what he thinks exactly should be done. I’m both glad to be getting more information and terrified about that that information might be. Tuesday I’ll be spending most of the day at UT having numerous scans done. There’s absolutely no indication that the cancer has spread to my bones, but I’m scared shitless all the same.

I’ll try to get a recipe post up this week but no promises. I will introduce you to Hugh, the Manatee. As always, I will be obnoxious on twitter. I try to share that obnoxiousness with  random questions added in on my Facebook page. Sometimes I even tweet while under the influence of drugs. I like to think we’re all winners when that happens. Thanks for all the love, prayers, thoughts, vibes and juju sent my way. Colleen and I think you all are awesome.

44 Comments on Cancer Land – If the Kiddie Rollercoaster is This Much Fun, I Can’t Wait For the Big One

  1. Winnie
    April 14, 2013 at 9:46 pm (2 years ago)

    It’s you who is awesome, you know. Ps the internet totes has enough recipes. You needn’t post one this week (unless it makes you happy).

    Reply
  2. Kristina
    April 14, 2013 at 9:54 pm (2 years ago)

    Winnie! How can you say that?!! The food blogging community would suffer greatly if I didn’t post my key lime pie recipe. ;)

    And thank you. You seem pretty awesome yourself.

    Reply
  3. Winnie
    April 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm (2 years ago)

    Well, ok. Key lime pie? We need that recipe.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm (2 years ago)

      I think it’s quite a good recipe. It’s the spanking of strangers part that really adds to the mystique of the whole thing.

      Reply
  4. Jenny Hartin
    April 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm (2 years ago)

    I got nothing but xoxo.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 14, 2013 at 11:15 pm (2 years ago)

      Thanks babe – I’ve got nothing but xoxo back.

      Reply
  5. Dafogle
    April 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm (2 years ago)

    Just wanted to let you know that they often refer to a partial mastectomy as a lumpectomy – that terminology is interchangeable .. my surgeon talked to me about a lumpectomy + radiation .. and I freaked out at the hospital when all the paperwork had partial mastectomy written on it …

    breathe deep … exhale – and know that those are the two choices … lumpectomy or mastectomy … that decision was an easy one for me …

    Hugs,
    D

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m uncomfortable getting into some specific details of my medical care. I share what I’m comfortable sharing, and I don’t feel the obligation to share things I’m not comfortable sharing. I had a detailed phone call with the nurse. There are two separate areas they are dealing with, one quite large. These areas are not close together. I’m hoping for the best tomorrow, but I’ve also been told to prepare myself for the worst case scenario because it is not unlikely.

      I’ve been doing a lot of deep breathing (yoga and meditation). Writing also is a comfort to me. I’m glad the decision for what you decided to do was easy. I hope mine is easy as well.

      Reply
      • Mellissa
        April 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm (2 years ago)

        Nothing about this sounds easy to me. I think of you randomly throughout the week and wonder how you are doing – which is strange because we have never met. If you can inspire that kind of caring from total strangers, then I can only imagine how much those close to you love and care about you. It sounds like you have a wonderful family and I’m so glad for that at least. Hang in there. XO

        Reply
        • Kristina
          April 14, 2013 at 11:30 pm (2 years ago)

          Mellissa – you’re just lovely. Thank you. I sometimes wonder how a sarcastic off-the-cuff blogger like me got such nice commenters. However it happened, I’m grateful for it. Thank you.

          Reply
      • Dafogle
        April 15, 2013 at 10:35 am (2 years ago)

        I hope you don’t think I was trying or pushing for you to share more about your cancer – as I wasn’t – I’ll be thinking of you today as you go to your appointment and I’ll be hoping that you will be at peace with your surgical decisions. Sending hugs

        Reply
        • Kristina
          April 15, 2013 at 10:31 pm (2 years ago)

          I didn’t think that. I just wanted to remind people that I don’t get into all the details here. My boobs are not that fascinating and like a little privacy despite all the people I’ve had to whip them out to. :) Thanks for the hugs. I really needed them today.

          Reply
          • Dafogle
            April 16, 2013 at 1:23 pm (2 years ago)

            good – I was feeling like I was saying all the wrong things, not being at all helpful and that I needed to slap myself in the face … sending more hugs …

  6. Dafogle
    April 14, 2013 at 10:23 pm (2 years ago)

    And I hit post comment way to soon … there are certainly options for having your own biological child – that door is not closed yet – presumably you will need chemo – which is the major factor there – there are steps you can take prior to chemo if you choose … and not all Chemo regimes are alike – your oncologist would be the one to explore those options with once you get there.

    Please let me know if you want to communicate via email or phone – I’d be happy to share more with you …
    D

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 14, 2013 at 11:09 pm (2 years ago)

      I’m 39. I have breast cancer. I will have to take drugs that would be teratogenic to my baby for a long period of time. I plan to explore all the options that are at my disposal to increase the likelihood that I might be able to have a biological child. I’m also on state health insurance after trying for years to get private insurance, and I’m fairly certain in this state that fertility treatments or things like freezing eggs would never be covered.

      Regardless of all of this, April was the month that my husband and I decided we would start trying to have a baby. The initial mammogram was supposed to be a checkbox on a checklist of things to do before attempting to get pregnant. And now I have breast cancer. I will learn all I can so that I might still have this option available. But I feel a great deal of grief for what has already been lost.

      Reply
      • Dafogle
        April 15, 2013 at 10:29 am (2 years ago)

        I’m so sorry – you have lost a lot – and you have every right to grieve what you’ve lost … and anything you perceive you have lost … it’s your reality and NO one else knows how you feel …

        Reply
        • Kristina
          April 15, 2013 at 10:34 pm (2 years ago)

          I’m trying to hope for the best and plan for the worst. It still sucks. I already had a lot of compassion for women who were infertile. I hurt so much more for them now.

          Reply
  7. Marta Brysha
    April 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm (2 years ago)

    Yes, cancer is all about you and fuck anyone who whines about not getting enough attention from you. And I’m glad you are laughing in cancers ugly-ass face. All power to you.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm (2 years ago)

      Actually – no one has been whiny at all about it. Just me. :D I’m not good with asking for help.

      I will mock cancer until the day I die. 70 years from now.

      Reply
  8. Marta Brysha
    April 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm (2 years ago)

    I’m not on twitter. Does shitfoodblogger actally have a blog?

    Reply
  9. Darlynne
    April 15, 2013 at 12:52 am (2 years ago)

    I don’t like Cancer Land so far–what, no bacon?–and am choosing to treat all these new cancer words as icons, like the-artist-formerly-known-as-Prince, so I can pretend I don’t understand. But I’ll be happy to spank some strangers for you, if you think it will help, and I’ll take two copies of “Baking with Boobs” when it’s available.

    You are awesome and astonishing, and I mean that in a very non-pink kind of way. Here’s a fish for Hugh: <*)))-{

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 10:54 pm (2 years ago)

      Baking with Boobs is going to be such a hit. I can’t wait. And yes – I’m learning vocabulary I never wanted to know. Ever.

      Thanks for the hug and the fish. We both appreciate it. Well, only Hugh liked the fish. He prefers lettuce.

      Reply
  10. Jenni
    April 15, 2013 at 7:10 am (2 years ago)

    My diminutive polar bear, Charles, sends love to you and Hugh.

    However you need to act, whatever you need to write or say, whenever you need to retreat or explode, it is all The Right Thing.

    Love you, friend.

    <3

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Much love to you and Charles. And I love you, sweet lady. God bless the internet and my search for help with pastry cream. :-*

      Reply
  11. Caitlin
    April 15, 2013 at 8:11 am (2 years ago)

    I am more jealous than you know that you have a manatee named Hugh. Also, god – I don’t even know what to say. Except that I love you, wish I could hug you right now, and that I’m sending all the love and hugs physically possible over to you in TN. And that you totally have the jump on shitfoodblogger – such a go-getter! xxoo

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 10:58 pm (2 years ago)

      Hugh is pretty awesome. So are my friends. :-* I wish you could hug the hell out of me too. Hopefully we can make that happen soon.

      Reply
  12. Laura@Motherwouldknow
    April 15, 2013 at 8:41 am (2 years ago)

    Your pal/frenemy Shitfoodblogger sent me here. And while folks like us know how to make proper people cringe with our ridiculously obnoxious tweets, we also know when the most appropriate comment is xxxxoooo. Take all our hugs with you on this journey and the kisses too if they fit into your overnight bag.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 11:01 pm (2 years ago)

      The love and support I get helps give me the spirit to snark. Hugs, kisses and a manatee will totally go in my overnight bag.

      Reply
  13. Amy
    April 15, 2013 at 8:41 am (2 years ago)

    Forget about the pie blogging. We just want to hear about your boobs.

    Hugs to you and Hugh, sweet friend! xoxoxo

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm (2 years ago)

      Amy – pies and boobs go together like pies and boobs! Hugh and I appreciate the hugs. Hugh would also like some lettuce is you have any you could send.

      Reply
  14. Kitchen Ninja (Julianne)
    April 15, 2013 at 9:22 am (2 years ago)

    Forget the recipes — we need more pix of Hugh. (BTW, the company that created that frickin’ calming manatee site is now following me on twitter — HA!!!) xo

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 15, 2013 at 11:04 pm (2 years ago)

      Hugh is getting a total spread. He’ll be naked so don’t let the kids see.

      Reply
  15. Heather in SF
    April 15, 2013 at 10:07 am (2 years ago)

    Sending you hugs……. I’m so glad Deidre is okay and that you have health insurance, and that your friend s and family are so awesome. You’re even more awesome.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:52 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks sweetie. The state insurance here is awful – if I had liver cancer, I wouldn’t be covered. But yes – my family and my friends are awesome. I always feel lots of love headed my way from SF. :)

      Reply
  16. Valerie
    April 15, 2013 at 8:40 pm (2 years ago)

    “Eye of the Tiger.” That is all.
    Oh, “Holly, Holy” too. ;)

    XO

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 4:54 pm (1 year ago)

      I would have loved it if that had played in the MRI.

      Reply
  17. The Modern Gal
    April 15, 2013 at 10:02 pm (2 years ago)

    #titsforhits … brilliant

    I like it when you talk about you, because I like you and I like to know what’s going on. I don’t really like cancer, but my liking of you and knowing what’s going on supersedes how much I don’t like cancer.

    For serious, you’re constantly in my thoughts and prayers. I’m trying to figure out what pie will express this best.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 5:08 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you. I’ll admit. Cancer was not on my bucket list for 2013. All pies accepted except pecan or coconut. My husband’s the picky one. ;)

      Reply
  18. robynski
    April 16, 2013 at 11:57 am (2 years ago)

    Ok it’s not all about you. But it should be right now. I’m so sad. I wish I could change it all. But I can’t because I’m not in charge of the universe. Which sucks. A lot.

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm (1 year ago)

      It would be bad if I were in control of the universe. I’d just like the power to give people bloody noses at will. Embarrassing, but not life-threatening. ;) And yes – I’m sad too – mixed all up in a numb & angry ball.

      Reply
  19. Laura
    April 23, 2013 at 1:08 am (1 year ago)

    During my various intensive medical phases (for lack of easier thing to call them, not because I am unwilling to share) everyone got tired of hearing me say “I’m sorry.” It is all about you right now, and it should be, but it is also hard to have it be all about you (for you I mean–everyone else is fine with it). :(

    Big hugs for you, big kicks in the balls to cancer, and much love for anything that gets you through MRIs. They are so damn long, it is hard to be in there thinking about why you are there. Keeping in mind I had swelling in my brain and was not, um, myself, I crawled out of one of my first MRIs screaming (alas really filthy) obscenities at the nurses, claiming that they had left me in there for hours lol. The poor dears looked absolutely shocked. To this day (I have MRIs every 2 years) I struggle through them and yes use xanax on occasion too. So big hugs for drugs too!

    Reply
    • Kristina
      April 27, 2013 at 4:00 pm (1 year ago)

      I think I was lucky. Face down is easier and the MRI nurses were so great. It’s not the MRIs that get me. It’s that horrible needle phobia. And it drives me crazy because it makes no sense (I mean it makes sense how I got it) but the blood and the pain (most of it) don’t bother me.

      And I am so, so sorry you’re dealing with a medical condition that makes these MRIs necessary. I wish I could come with you, and tell you stupid jokes on the speaker to keep you distracted. :)

      Reply
      • Laura
        April 28, 2013 at 1:07 am (1 year ago)

        I can’t tell you how wonderful that would have been/would be. :) But my story ended fine (MRIs now are just lingering fact of life to make sure stays fine) and I am hoping yours will too. I wish I had a drive to Atlanta to make so I could bring you cookies or something!

        Reply

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