I sit here looking at a blank computer screen, trying to take it all in. I should know how to start because I’ve certainly told this story enough times. But even though most of you, my dear ones, have been so patient and supportive and forgiving of my saying things that maybe didn’t make a lot of sense, the act of writing it down seems to be useful to think it through myself.
My husband, Jess, and I entered some kind of alternate reality this summer in which I have cancer, and our world has changed. We are sharing this together, and at the same time, apart. Grey’s Anatomy fans will appreciate that we are each other’s person.
It started this summer when we finally reached a position of financial stability to start catching up on overdue medical and dental issues. My doctor did the usual well-woman visit, including a breast exam, didn’t find anything, but suggested I just catch up on my routine mammograms because I hadn’t had one in a couple of years. So,
July 19: first mammogram
August 7: second mammogram and ultrasound film. Jess and I had a lovely lunch out afterward, and then went shopping, still celebrating my 58th birthday, (I’d decided to adopt a friend’s approach and celebrate all month long).
August 9: follow-up with my doctor on the mammograms. She told me that even though she still couldn’t feel it, it looked like cancer and she wanted it biopsied.
September 16: ultrasound-guided core biopsy by the surgeon who would be removing the cancer.
September 20: that surgeon said it was definitely cancer, and asked if I would like a partial or full mastectomy, just as if he were asking if I’d like fries with that. No discussion of what partial or full actually meant, no visuals, not even a pamphlet. He also couldn’t look either of us in the eye. We left and I told Jess I wasn’t comfortable with that surgeon.
Jess went on the internet and located the surgeon who is the director at the Moores Cancer Center in La Jolla (about 25 miles from where we live in north county San Diego). We visited a chiropractor for some body work, and I got my final dental work (a filling) taken care of… trying to clear the decks and get current with everything else so we’d be able to focus on what a life-threatening disease means when it’s suddenly your life that’s being talked about.
October 10: second-opinion consult with Dr. Sarah Blair.
October 14: this week I will have surgery scheduled (hopefully October 22) with Dr. Blair. I will also have lab work done, and meet with the anesthesiologist.
While it seems to be taking an awfully long time to get to treatment, we’ve been reassured that there really is time, and that this is actually moving pretty quickly.
Jess and I are surrounded by your love and healing energies, and more materials than we can absorb all at once (but keep it coming any way, we will get to it). We have shifted our diet from 3 meals a day to 6 smaller meals in order to keep my blood sugar more level overall, and have doubled our vegetable and fruit intake. We’ve not been in the habit of eating much red meat anyway, but now we leaning towards more fish than previously. We added ginger, green tea extract, Co Q 10, and turmeric to our supplements. We are researching anti-inflammation diets and have tried several new recipes this week that have been pretty tasty. Here’s one:
Mango Banana Fig Smoothie
2 medium size mangoes (we used frozen from Trader Joe’s)
2 medium size bananas
8 – 10 dried figs (snip the stems off)
Almond milk (you could also use cashew milk or regular milk)
Put it all in the blender and blend until smooth. It tastes like a fig newton (remember the cookies?) milk shake.
I'm learning more about my art, and from my art, every day. It's not so much a matter of skill or practice... mostly it's a shift in perspective, a way of shaping how I look at and exist in the world.
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