Getting Real

I was offered a surgery date for Monday, Nov 10. They called and I immediately panicked. I’m not ready for surgery, I’m not ready for this is be so invasive, I’m not ready for cancer.

I turned down the surgery date just because I want to get a second opinion at the Mayo. I am only 40 and want to make sure I do all of this right. I might just be uneasy because it’s cancer, and everything is moving so fast; I want to make sure I do everything in my power to get the best available treatment.

I’m mostly staying positive, the emotional exhaustion in the worst. How do I ask for help when really I have it pretty good already? I’m not working so I should have tons of time to deal with cancer, right? Sure…but time doesn’t pay the damn rent or put gas in the vehicle. It just gives me one more thing to worry about as I move forward and wonder how long I can drag this out for.

My friends are great…I couldn’t do this without them.

CaringBridge

Started a CaringBridge page to journal just my cancer journey. If you visit, please sign the guest book.

I am already so tired of cancer. I drove over 1000 miles last week for appointments and will drive AT LEAST that many more to get a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. I am only 40, my future deserves a second look. My kids deserve me to have the best care available.

The current health system I have been doctoring has left me with a few uneasy feelings so the travel is worth the peace of mind.

I am scared…I cannot screw this up. I NEED this done right the first time so I don’t have to watch my family and friends go through this again. Yes, that is harder for me than dealing with the issue on its’ own; watching my family and friends hurting for me.

My cancer has a name: Dorothy. When I had my thyroid nodules, The Photographer named it Percy (for perspective). While on my way to my first appointment in Fargo I texted her and said, “This thing needs a name.” Within a few hours she responded with Dorothy…I frequently refer to my life as the storm I am living in…storm…tornado…Dorothy. I loved it. Then she texted me again to share with me that the meaning of the name is God’s gift. Who am I to turn down a gift from God?

I have been including Dorothy in hashtags on my Facebook status updates that range from #dorothymustdie to #dorothybegone to a simple #cancersucks. I am blessed with an awesome circle of family and friends. We are enjoying the humorous aspect of this whole ordeal.

I was standing in the elevator with my mom and niece and I kept hitting the #3 button (we were on the third floor and trying to get to the lobby). She asked if there was a reason I was hitting the wrong button and I guffawed saying well I DO have cancer…both of them rolled their eyes and said my excuse was already getting pretty old. She reminded me that it was in my boob, NOT my brain. I told her when I am dead they will be so sad when they remember making fun of me in the elevator. Neither one of them seemed to think they would…all compassion I tell ya! LOL

I can already picture my funeral (don’t worry, I don’t think this is even going to come close to killing me)…people are going to be interrupting the pastor, giggling, talking, listening to music, updating their Facebook, and taking selfies with my body.

Invasive

My new non-favorite word is invasive. I went to Fargo yesterday for my consult and biopsy. They all commented how this is a unique presentation and definitely not textbook. Not real encouraging as they are all staring at my breast with the ultrasound trying to figure out just how they are going to manage getting a sample they can use.

Pathology came back and the diagnosis is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. As far as we can see there is no lymph involvement but they will take samples during surgery to make sure. They grade the samples on a 1 – 3 scale; one sample came back as grade 1, the other as grade 2.

Due to the size of the tumor, a lumpectomy is not an option and a mastectomy is recommended. This might mean that I won’t need radiation because I will have no breast tissue to treat. There is a chance that they chose to radiate some of the chest wall depending on the surgical findings.

HOLY SHIT…I HAVE CANCER.

Telling the boys tonight. Not looking forward to it. B2 will totally rock this, B1 will be crushed and scared and absolutely pissed off…can’t say as I blame him. I’m kinda angry myself.

Thanks for prayers, for support, for everything. I’ll keep you posted.

Deb

Scared

I won’t lie…I’m scared. Even though part of me thinks this is all just a big mistake and I am going to find out that I am perfectly healthy; most of me knows that is not true.

I keep hearing the words aggressively malignant in my head. I can’t do aggressively malignant…I have kids, I’m too busy for aggressively malignant. The boys both started youth bowling league a month ago, B2 started hockey practice last weekend and Cub Scouts, I volunteered to assist his hockey coach (lots of kids and one coach…poor guy). I can’t be a Den Mom, an assistant hockey coach AND aggressively malignant…I just can’t.

I have so much to write and don’t even know where to begin.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, October 28) I go to Fargo to see a specialist. There is a consult followed by more precise imagining, followed by a biopsy of the area. Pathology from the biopsy will be back in a few days and will determine the treatment plan.

I don’t have a lump…I was active growing up…I breast fed all my children…I can’t have breast cancer. I can’t have it…I don’t want it…I don’t want it.

I’m scared.

I have no idea what any of this means yet…and hopefully get a ton of answers tomorrow. My first appointment is at 0830h and my last one starts at 1230h. This means I have to leave home by 0530 and probably won’t be back until about 1730h. Then B2 has his Cub Scout Pack Halloween party starting at 1830.

Seabee has an appointment tomorrow too that hopefully means he will be home in a week or two. He’s been an awesome support over the phone this last week.  I am so lucky to be surrounded by the greatest friends a woman can ask for.

The Lunch Lady feels bad because she can’t be here to take me to my appointment. I will be wearing a shirt she bought me…I know she’s with me. I miss her terribly right now. She is one of very few people I can share my completely uncensored thoughts and feeling with. The boys and I are planning to go visit them over Thanksgiving…I can’t wait to see them all!

The ONE Time

I won’t lie, it’s not good.

The first time I am absolutely sure there is nothing wrong…

The first time I actually get something checked almost immediately…

Not even an ounce of concern on my part.

Malignant until proven otherwise, that’s not good.

Step two is an ultrasound…why are we skipping the ultrasound…I don’t even have to ask. All I remember is aggressive, malignant, and treat.

I went to the doctor yesterday because I was having some minor pain on the inner aspect of my left breast. It’s been about 2 weeks and I have had no trauma or any other reason it would be sore (especially for that long). Although convinced it was nothing, I go in…I never go in.

Talk to doc and he also doesn’t feel a lump and orders a mammogram and tells me if the mammogram is suspicious the radiologist will recommend an ultrasound…but his best guess is that it’s just benign breast pain…no big deal.

The tech takes 2 pictures of each breast and tells me to take a seat the radiologist is right out side and she wants to make sure she got what he wants to look at.

I send a text to my ex-husband’s first ex-wife joking that isn’t this how people get bad news…they think nothing is wrong and then BAM…life changes?? She lol’s back at me.

The tech returns and says I can get dressed. Then she says the radiologist is already writing his report to my doctor and that I will be hearing from them today, “I won’t lie, it’s not good.”

I get a call within a couple hours from my doctor…as I am on the way to listen to the boys sing for a musical performance at their school…

I don’t remember a lot…just that it is a large area of calcifications and that it is considered aggressively malignant until proven otherwise and a biopsy has been ordered and he doesn’t want it done locally, he wants it done at a breast health center almost 3 hours away.

I get a follow up call from scheduling that tells me the Fine Needle Aspiration may not be a possibility with what they can see on my mammogram so they are waiting for their radiologist and surgeon to read it before deciding how to proceed. I ask nonchalantly how far out they are scheduling a procedure such as that and am told, “There is a note here saying it needs to be done this week and we will accommodate that.”

Best Vacation

Today our family was blessed with Anson Connor, my baby sister had her baby today. He is 9lbs 10oz and 21″ long. Mom and baby are doing well after the C-section.

This morning as we waited for word of the delivery, the soon-to-be big sister was so very excited, sharing with everybody we saw that today was the day.

I got a video of her calling her dad and announcing the sex of the baby. When I told her to ask what his name was she looked at me and said, “Handsome.” HAHA Anson…Handsome…pretty close! Three of her cousins were with her when she found out the news and were full of whoops and hollers.

I know I have not yet shared the challenges faced on this trip, and I will…but this little man has brightened the eyes of the weary…he will be loved and spoiled and spoiled and loved. I promise.

His tiny footprints have already marked my heart, my soul, and changed my world. Love, LOVE you Anson!! MWAH

When I Say Adventure Days 1 – 3

I sure didn’t think it would go quite like this when I decided to take a trip to Canada to bury my Grandpa and then spend some time with my family.

Day 1: Instead of starting out Friday morning, the boys decide they want to leave Thursday evening. No problem, it will knock a few hours off the next day which was going to be a 15 hour drive. Pack up, remember meds; leave the house at 9:00pm. Drive almost 4 hours while the boys sleep and stop at a rest stop along the highway to get some sleep.

Day 2: Get up and get going; enjoy the scenery of western North Dakota. Cross the border in to Canada and get to my sister’s house. My first time here and I am given the tour by her four year old daughter. What a great place; beautiful home, huge yard, amazing garden. Boys and their cousin blow off some energy before lunch and the next leg of our journey.

Drive 45 minutes to my sister’s doctor’s office for an OB appointment. At 37 weeks pregnant she isn’t even telling the doctor we are travelling to Grandpa’s funeral…and remembers to pack the car seat and diaper bag just in case…

Drive 4.5 hours after appointment to where my grandparents live. We check in to hotel and relax for a bit before heading over to Grandma’s place…we debated going for supper before heading over there but I want to see Grandma and get through the initial struggle of not being greeted by Grandpa when we walk in the door…I also know there will be plenty of food there and don’t want to pay to eat when there is free food.

Visit with cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grandma; some I have not seen since my Grandpa’s brother passed away six year earlier and we gathered for his funeral. B2 is now nearly 7, he was six months old when we were here last.

My mom and four brother’s show up, I have not seen them in three years…best feeling EVER…the years just melted away. If somebody had been watching they probably would have thought this was just an ordinary meeting, the love, the insults, the inside jokes, the poking, the ‘inside gossip’ was in full swing. Laughter…I’m sure they could hear us three blocks away from Grandma’s house.

Back to the hotel for bedtime…my boys are worn out. Get them to bed and stand in my sister’s (child number 7) doorway with her and her husband and brother number 3 (child number 5). The giggling and talking and stories are killing us…with laughter. No idea where brother number 4 is (child number 6) but we know that the potential for an excruciatingly drunk night for a few of the kids is likely in order…#7 is pregnant so she’s out, I’m and alcoholic…so I’m safe. We figure out who is staying in which rooms (there are four rooms for 18 of us). The giggles and idle threats of violence between brother’s who have a recent troubled history ensure they will NOT be sharing a room…we figure it all out and while some go out gambling, I take my boys and #7’s daughter (the four year old) and we go to bed in one room.

Day 3: Boys want to swim but pool does not open until 10am. After an initial mope they are revived by the promise of swim time before the funeral service at 2:00pm. We go for breakfast (15 of us) and the stories and giggles continue. We return to the hotel by noon and the boys and I are in the pool within minutes. We play and splash, and kill some time just being us. When it’s time we run up to our room and bath, shower, dress. Boys are just in shorts and t-shirts, and I get dressed up a little.

We are the last of my mom’s posse to arrive at the funeral home. We are again meeting and greeting family that has not seen the boys and I for six years or more. B1 takes random pictures of people and then B2 asks where Grandpa is. I take him in to the chapel and he begins taking pictures of more random people and the urn where my Grandpa rests. I explain about cremation and that like a log in a campfire, grandpa’s body is now just ashes. Next B1 asks for the same thing and I take him to the front and have the same talk with him. I am so proud of my boys and their thoughtful questions.

The service is wonderful. While not a religious man, he admitted that he would be a fool if he didn’t believe in something. There’s one thing my grandpa was not…and that’s a fool. B1 was seated beside me and B2 was on my knee. When he saw me crying he took a tissue and blotted my tears. When I became even more emotional as the service went on he leaned over and whispered to his big brother, “I knew we shouldn’t have come here.” When B1 said it was a funeral for my grandpa and we had to be here B2 replied, “But she’s so friggen sad and I can’t stop it!” He continues to wrap his arm around my neck and wipe my tears…I am so blessed to have kids with such big hearts.

Just two weeks earlier a childhood friend of mines 17 year old son passed away. When I got the news I was crying and the boys come in to the bedroom to check on me. When asked what was wrong I said, “My friend lost her son.” B2 wipes my tears, wraps his tiny arms all the way around me and says, “Don’t worry Mom, they’ll find him. I know they will.”

I’ve never before attended two funerals is such a close time. Exactly one week apart, a 17 year old boy and an 82 year old man.

Following interment we return to the funeral home for coffee and treats and more visiting. We are among the last to leave. Back to the hotel and the kids go swimming with my older brother and I head to the casino with my mother for a little while. I get a text from my sister saying B2 is ready to go back to the room…baby boy is sleeping for the night within the hour.

When the rest of the family decides to go to Grandma’s house to visit and eat, I order pizza for the boys myself to be delivered to the hotel. Concern is raised that B2 should be woken up, I explain that he will wake up when he gets hungry, eat a slice of pizza and go back to sleep…no problems here.

This is the first three days of our trip. The memories will forever be in our brains…our hearts.

So glad I did not know what the next few days would bring…