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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.