Monday, October 18, 2010

Before and After

I have an hour before leaving for my appointment.  I thought I'd use a little of that time to download a random sample of the whirlwind of thoughts in my mind right now:

My brother has set up a Google group for my family and close friends (sort of like an email listserve, with the advantage that all messages are archived.) I've enlisted him as Chief Disseminator, Keeper of the Facts. I'll call him with details of test results, and he'll write it up. As appropriate, I'll copy and past info here.

In the meantime, I know that by the size alone, this cancer is at least Stage 2. This is what the doctor told me. It is ringing in my mind. We won't know more about the stage today. I can't shake the thought that it's already in the lymph nodes. Though the doctor didn't feel any swelling, I feel something internally, a sort of tingling. I've been feeling this for a while now. Perhaps it's psychosomatic. I hope so.

Right now I am snacking on half-thawed frozen strawberries that I picked last summer. I have been eating super-healthy lately, had been moving in that direction for months. I've lost probably fifteen pounds. This weekend I ran six miles on Saturday and another six on Sunday. This morning I swam over a mile without stopping and the better part of a second mile doing various drills, got out of the pool because of time constraints rather than fatigue. I ran my first half-marathon last weekend and my time was significantly faster than I expected. At the end I actually felt disappointed that there wasn't another mile or two to go. I felt great. I feel great now. I keep thinking: better savor this while it lasts.

I spoke to a friend of a friend about her cancer experience yesterday. If I am faced with the prospect of mastectomy, as she was, I don't know what I will do. I'd rather have no boobs than fake boobs but the idea of a single boob is not so appealing. Nor is lopping off a healthy part of my body for the sake of symmetry (would I really want to swim or run wearing a prosthesis? I don't think so). The choices seem horrible.

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Another traumatic doctor's appointment behind us now. The information J~ and I gathered was largely technical and what I expected, though Dr. S mentioned wanting me to have a bone scan and a CT scan before the surgery. I wasn't excited about that, and he said it would be okay to do it afterwards too. In going over the information, he brought up yet again the fact that he had not felt any palpable lymph nodes when examining me the other day. This was clearly a hopeful point in his mind.

But things took a turn when I asked him to show me exactly where the lymph nodes are under my arm because I have been worried. I feel something there. I see I wrote tingling earlier. It's not that. It's more like the feeling in your cheeks when you think about eating a lemon. Only in the armpit. And slightly tender. I also admitted that I've had some tingling in my hands. Could that be related to lymph nodes? "There's no science to connect the two" he told me. He felt me again, this time digging in a little more determinedly then he had before. There is one "very large" palpable lymph node after all. He looked me in the eye for a long moment. He looked devastated.

Bone scan, CT scan are back on the table, along with the expected MRI and mammogram, all scheduled over the next several days. When I asked what these tests would look for, he mentioned several places where cancer may have spread - liver, lungs, bones, nerves... I had no idea there could be cancer on the nerves. Oh crap.

9 comments:

Amy in PA said...

Delurking to say that I am so sorry that this is your path. Wishing you strength and courage.

Ellen said...

Also delurking to tell you I am praying for good (or better) news in the near future. We are pulling for you!!!!

Kirsti in New Zealand said...

I haven't commented before either, but have been reading since 2007. I'm so sorry to hear your news. Hoping against hope that things are not as bad as they seem right now.

Daniele said...

I'm just so upset for you. The unfairness of it all is ridiculous. I'm sending love and hugs your way and hope things are not as bad as they seem right now. Stay strong, I know you can. xx

dillard said...

internet hope and support coming your way from Boston!!!!

r3 said...

Needless to say, focus on you and what you gotta do. But know that I'm thinking about you and hoping for the best and that a year from now or maybe two you'll be putting another marathon notch on your belt. As they say in the South, one day at a time, sweet jesus.

Panamahat said...

I'm trying to avoid saying anything unhelpful or trite, so I won't say much, except for sorry this update wasn't better news. I am really pulling for a clear bone scan. Thoughts are with you.

loribeth said...

Delurking to say I am thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to be reading all this. I am hoping you are able to find some moments of peace and are able to get some sleep too whenever you can.

It's a good thing you are in shape and tuned into your body. You knew something was up with that sensation in your armpit. Good doctors will never be offended by second guessing or further probing on your part--had you not pushed he would have possibly had you follow a different protocol of tests and not been as aggressive.

There is a forum on Runners World called Running With Cancer. It includes people who are currently being treated. It may help to be able, when possible, to move, move, move to shake out the stress.

I'll be thinking of you daily and looking for your updates.