I’ve got this, rambling

I recently saw Dr. Priti again during my presurgical procedures. She is the kind, pretty doctor who gave me my diagnosis a month ago. Even though I only met her that day for a less than 20 minutes, I got the feeling that she genuinely cared. And she again demonstrated that when I recently saw her. She had a cold on this recent visit and wore a surgical mask. Still, I pray that she wasn’t contagious as I really don’t want a cold, or anything else that will make me sick.

Dr. Priti and I had a good rapport as she worked with a nurse to get my left breast imaged again and ‘ultrasounded’ so she could insert a magnet of sorts that would quickly guide the surgeons to the correct area during surgery. This process (whose name I’ve forgotten) involved another long needle, like during my biopsy over a month ago. But surprisingly, it didn’t sting as much and wasn’t as physically awkward.

Somehow, the conversation during the entire 15-minute procedure involved my children — what they are like, my relationship with them, etc. I was happy that Dr. Priti was okay with the fact that I didn’t want to tell them quite yet about this diagnosis. “You can tell them much later,” she said, “nothing wrong with that.”

My son and I recently attended his basketball team’s first meeting.

My oldest, a high school freshman, recently made the school basketball team. He sailed through tryouts, working hard, eating right and just being excited. My news would have derailed this happy boy and i wasn’t having none of that.

I also attended his team’s first meeting with the coach and parents outlining expectations, rules (we don’t want parents behaving badly kinda rules), team mother selection, etc.

After the meeting, my kid jokingly wondered why I didn’t speak up and offer my services when two women were jockeying for the team mother position. He know that would probably never happen.

Not only am I an introvert who abhors hanging out with other parents or hosting events, I feel like all other parents are either like Christina Applegate’s character in “Bad Moms” and the parents who let the character push them around.

One of the two women who really wanted to be team mom.

The conversation during the ride back to our apartment after the team meeting touched on why I don’t usually volunteer to chaperone my kids’ school field trips or allow them sleepovers. The simple answer is that people make me nervous and I don’t gel with the topics they love to talk about. I’ve attended exactly one class party for each of my children since they’ve been in school from age 5 and I’ve chaperoned exactly one field trip each as well. That’s a grand total of 6 events over the last 9 nine years and I assure you that’s more than I’ve wanted to handle or more than I’ve desired.

I’ve always been content just buying and dropping off what is needed for the trips and events… chips, soda, juices, bottled water, cookies and such.

I did promise my son that once we move to our new house (I’ve decided to get a house once I am better so we can leave our one-year leased apartment), I’ll host a dinner for the team. This means that my son will have to tryout for the team during his sophomore year because the apartment lease doesn’t end until next fall, then we’ll have to get settle in, furnish the home and make it our own.

Lofty plans, I tell you, but it’s something to look forward to as I face treatment and the still-to-be fleshed out plan seemed to make my son happy. “You really would do that mom?” he asked when I made the suggestion. “Of course, babe,” I replied, already wondering what easy thing (I don’t enjoy cooking) to cook would be on the menu. Spaghetti is pretty easy, with meatballs and veggies and garlic bread.

This is a ramble post for sure, I still have to tackle surgery. Here’s to prayers that I am cancer free after that. Hoping that none of these bad cells had the audacity to travel to any other part of my body.

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Got a date!

Not that kind, hehe!

It took a whole week but I finally got a date for my surgery. It takes place one month after my diagnosis.

As I said I would do on my last post, I spent almost 40 minutes yesterday, Friday, making calls to the cancer center where I am receiving treatment, holding and being transferred to someone to handle my complaint about Kim not returning my calls to schedule my surgery. I finally got the number and got transferred to the office manager. But I decided to hang up and try Kim one more time and this time, she picked up!

I am looking forward to having this part of me that could kill me cut out. And my hope and prayer is that it’s the only part of my body with bad cells.

I don’t know what the future holds but I know that my God is mighty. I continue to ask him to continue guiding the doctor’s treating me and others in similar situations. That the knowledge the doctors have amassed be used to help us, even as we continue to struggle with having the kind of faith it takes to get a completely supernatural healing.

Why is this so hard? ‘Negative’ gene markers

This week has been spent trying to set an appointment for my surgery. I was told that was the next step after my MRI and genetics test results came back. Since I was still waiting on the genetic test results when Monday dawned, I wasn’t pushing so hard to get in touch with Dr. B’s scheduler, Kim, who just came back from vacation

Still, I called her number on Monday, meaning to get ahead of everything but got her voicemail. I didn’t leave a message but I called again 2 or so more times, and got the voicemail, still with the vacation greeting. I chalked it up to Mondays being a busy day generally and even more so for someone just back from vacation.

Tuesday morning came and I called Kim again, getting the same vacation message that included the names and phone numbers of two people that were meant to help during her absence. Again, I didn’t leave a message. After all, I was still awaiting my genetics test results.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the genetics counselor called with my results and promised to forward them to Dr. B, who had originally encouraged me to get them to aide in my decision making on whether to get the suggested lumpectomy or a bilateral mastectomy. According to the results, I do not have any of 9 markers they say puts one at increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers (sigh).

The gene test for cancer risk is considered ‘negative’ but the hereditary component is not completely ruled out.

With renewed determination, I called Kim, this time leaving her a voicemail message.

I was certain I would hear back from her at least within 24 hours… that’s what I consider to be a professional allotted time. I never heard from her on Wednesday.

On Thursday morning, I called her number again, and got the same greeting…”out of the office until– please reach –“. Angry, I called one of the numbers she left as points of contact when she was on vacation. This person answered on the second ring and I dove right into my complaints about Kim not being professional enough to call anyone back or even answer her phone during business hours. The lady apologized, gave a lame excuse about Kim just being back from vacation and needing to catch up with “stuff on her desk”, took my name, DOB and phone number and promised to give my message to Kim, whom she had “just” seen.

When I didn’t hear from Kim all day Thursday, i resolved to take my complaints higher. I know people can be overwhelmed but I should at least expect a call back after leaving two messages. Am I being unreasonable?

I know that if I had a different type of health insurance, I would have found another medical team to work with just because of Kim’s incompetence. It wouldn’t have mattered that I have confidence in the medical team that came together for me. This team practices in the largest and one of the top notch cancer centers in Virginia. People travel from all parts of Virginia and neighboring states to come here and my research into them has uncovered good things.

It’s Friday morning and I am headed out to take my kids to school but when I come back, I’ll be calling Kim’s supervisor or the supervisor’s supervisor because this is uncool. Setting up a surgery appointment for lumpectomy/mastectomy shouldn’t be this hard.

Supposed to be an easy weekend

After posting about my “good” MRI results yesterday, I proceeded to do some Google research on bilateral mastectomy and somewhat ended up on images. One of the ones I clicked on sent me to a blog authored by Leisha Davison-Yasol. Her story telling captivated me and I ended up reading all her posts over several years as she battled stage III breast cancer that had spread.

Reading about her surgeries, struggles, fears, pain and seeing how this insidious disease robs life, got me scared. While I’ve been encouraged by what my doctors have said about what they see in my body, there is still a nagging ‘what if’ feeling. I has a weird blood’ infection this summer when I traveled out of the country that left me breathless, literally. And while prescribed antibiotics cleared it, thinking of it now is haunting me.

As I sat reading Leisha’s blog (which, unfortunately hasn’t been updated since November 2015), I became aware of a dull, almost pain on my back. Alex Trebek, in his recent PSAs about pancreatic cancer, talked about wishing he had gotten his back pain checked out earlier. That it may have led to his pancreatic cancer being diagnosed earlier than stage 4.

Credit: LittleThings.com/India Times

My chest is also tight, my head is hurting and I also just read an entry by another breast cancer blogger, long gone, who wrote about how her diagnosed state 4 cancer spread through the bloodstream and not the lymphatic system. This was only found during surgery and wasn’t evident via other tests.

I don’t know what to make of what I am feeling. I just know that I am now in full fledged panic. What is my true prognosis?

I want my faith in God to take precedence. That if I pray for healing, that I will have enough faith to receive that true healing. But my humanity is getting in the way and I am letting fear overrule me.

I must do better. I will be working on doing better today, tomorrow, Monday and in the coming days, because I must.

Friday evening bliss

I am just happy I have lost a few pounds in the process.

This is by far the best evening I’ve had, mental wise, in the last 15 days since my diagnosis.

A few hours ago, I worked up the confidence to call the nurse navigator at the cancer center I am being treated at. I needed to hear about the MRI tests. Since Tuesday, I had been fighting the urge to call them just so I can hear that nothing (or something else) is wrong. After yesterday’s good news trip to the dermatologists that I DO NOT in fact have a skin malignancy, I was ready for equally good news today.

At around 3 p.m. EST, I called and asked if there was any inkling as to what the MRI tests showed. The nurse navigator answered her “work cell phone” immediately and was sympathetic. She told me she would try to reach the oncology surgeon but he had been in surgeries since morning so she wasn’t sure if he would be available yet.

Since today is Friday, I resigned myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t hear anything back until Monday. But no more than 15 minutes after I spoke with the nurse navigator, the surgeon called.

Seeing the phone number with the health system’s prefix, I answered, nervous and shaking.

“Ms. Jones? How are you holding up? ” He asked.

Jeez Dr. B, how do ya think I am doing. You’ve been holding out on my MRI results, I thought.

But to him I say, “Good, how about you?”

He’s well, he says and jumps right into said results. “I have the results and nothing is different than what we previously discussed.”

“Oh my God! Thank you, Doctor B!,” I say as I let out a big whoosh of breath I wasn’t aware I was even holding.

Listen, I know a lot of people don’t believe in God, but I do. I am not God-obsessed, but I do realize that we didn’t just get to exist in this world without a higher power. I talk to Him (not a she in my book) several times a day and in the last two weeks, I’ve talked to Him a bajillion trillion times a day, asking him to spare my life so I could raise my children to adulthood. So yes, I thanked God for answering my prayers and I thanked Dr. B, as well, for the good report.

Dr. B said the surgery scheduler ( I forget the title he used) he works with (Kim) was out for the week and he already had my information ready for her when she came back in Monday so she could work on scheduling my surgery.

The rest of the conversation was mundane and we bid farewell shortly thereafter. I almost dialed my mom’s number to let her know the good news but then I remembered that my kids were upstairs and typically eavesdrop on my conversations. Especially since they think I have a boyfriend after I told them in September that their dad and I decided to separate again.

So I tabled letting my mom know the MRI test results until I made my way to her house. My daughter wanted me to take her to the hair store to get some hair for braiding, so I figured I could drop by before heading back to our apartment.

I was practically soaring as we completed our errands. My mom was happy with the news. We seemed to be of the accord that every victory must be celebrated. We discussed the surgery and agreed that a mastectomy was probably the better option for me, just for peace of mind and not having to worry about a recurrence.

After the short visit with my mom, my kids and I had dinner and this time I actually enjoyed my meal and even had dessert– a slice of German chocolate cake from my birthday that we had saved. The thought I saved it in the freezer because I am on a diet but the reality was that I was scared to eat it. I’ve heard a great deal of scary stuff about cancer loving sugar. I am still educating myself on the best diet for this thing. Meanwhile, I am just happy I have lost a few pounds (8) in the process, notwithstanding the stressful reason why.

So I get to have a blissful Friday with my children, minus the wine I’ve always enjoyed, of course. But It’s shaping out to be a great weekend.

Monday will bring what it brings, but for now, I am content.

Dermatofibroma sounds so much better

Not my picture, but this looks like my bump.

While my MRI results are not back yet, I’ve been breathing easy today after my visit with the dermatologist revealed that the bumps on my leg are benign dermatofibromas and not some kind of skin malignancy.

Never heard of the term before, but it is apparently “a common type of benign skin tumor that is small, slow-growing, typically firm, red-to-brown bump, seen most often on the legs,” according the literature the dermatologist gave me.

I can now go back to worrying solely about the recently diagnosed malignancy in my left breast.

Reeling

The night before my MRI was mentally tough. I managed to convince myself that I probably had lung issues that would probably show up on the MRI. I am still awaiting the MRI results and I am not any better.

I don’t understand why it takes so long to hear back about the results from the doctor and/or his team. It’s Tuesday today and MRI day was Friday. Shouldn’t I have heard back by now? I don’t like this feeling of losing control. I can barely sleep three hours straight before waking up in a state of panic.

I’ve always been somewhat of a hypochondriac, for example that a headache lasting 2 days means a brain aneurysm, but now, with this DCIS diagnosis, I am a blithering idiot.

I have a couple of raised spots on my legs and I am now worried about melanoma. So much so that I’ve made an appointment to see a dermatologist this week. It doesn’t matter that I am dark-skinned black person, so my chances of getting skin cancer are low but my proximity to infrared heaters during harsh winters gotten me extremely worried. I can’t even tell my mom about this new worry yet because she’s lost her peace of mind lately, just like I have.

The results from the genetic testing will take 1-2 weeks.

On top of this, the results of the genetic testing I initiated yesterday won’t be ready for a week or two, which means that surgery won’t be performed until they are back. This is because a positive hereditary gene for cancer will help me make a decision on whether I go with the doctor-recommended lumpectomy or a bilateral mastectomy.

Nothing seems to be moving at the pace I want it to. And my mind is telling me all kinds of extreme things. Mainly that I’ll be dead sooner rather than later and that my kids will never forgive me for that.

On some level, I am embarrassed to be having all these thoughts because I am supposed to maintain my faith as a Christian. If I am praying to God to use the doctors to help me beat this health challenge, then why I am accepting of death? The only answer I can come up with is “oh ye of little faith…” I have to up my faith level, plain and simple.