Ok, Body, not cool. I thought we were friends. I treat you with kindness and respect (whiskey notwithstanding). I compliment you every single day. I never talk shit. And most importantly, I trusted you. You bitch.
You have a made a terrible, terrible mistake, one that will never be forgotten.
But we can fix this. You need to work at it though. You need to work your ass off. And I’ll work at it too and together we’ll make this right.
If you do this for me, I’ll forgive you for everything. I promise. I’ll give you another chance and we’ll be close friends again. I won’t hold it against you. You just fucked up. Nobody’s perfect. I know that. Just make it up to me.
Here’s what we’re working with.
- Right breast Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC) 1cm x 1.5cm
- Stage 1a
- Grade 2
- Triple positive (ER+, PR+, HER2+)
- Sentinel Node Biopsy: Negative
- Bone Scan: Negative
- Brain MRI: Negative
- Chest/Abdomen/Pelvis CT Scan: Negative
- BRCA Gene Mutation: Negative
It might not seem like it but this is actually good news, aggressive, murderous, unappreciated tumor notwithstanding.
The treatment is:
- TCHP (Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin, Perjeta) chemotherapy once every 3 weeks for 6 treatments, then Herceptin every 3 weeks for total of 1 year
- Radiation (depending on surgery)
I’ve also got a sizeable team of alternative therapists to assist with the side effects. So, we’ve pretty much got it all covered.
Why does this tiny lump in this tiny boob need so much damn attention? Lots of reasons. HER2+ tumors are the icky kind that like to spread all over your body and kill you. So it must be dealt with swiftly and brutally. One reason that is top of my mind is that I’m young. I need to obliterate this thing so that I never have to do this again.
And so we’re off…
I drink. I drink a lot. I assumed my blood was Kate Moss-thin. No such luck. I developed a blood clot in my left armpit because of the Power Port I had “installed” the week before.
A port is a little plastic device placed underneath the skin of my chest with a direct line to my vena cava. It is where they will administer the chemotherapy drugs.
I was adamantly opposed to such a thing at first. Pictures of them online varied from an obscenely repulsive alien trying to escape the chest wall to a door knob sticking out of one’s torso. I’m an aerial dancer. I live in sundresses. I can’t have strange stuff sticking out of me like a robot for all the world to pity. I demanded a talented surgeon and I’m glad I did.
It really isn’t that bad. I’m scrawny so, yes, it does stick out a bit, maybe a centimeter or so. But, it saves me from being jabbed and bruised by newbie nurses with needles in the arm. Apparently, mine is particularly pretty. I’ve even been asked to model mine around the chemo room.
Blood clots, however, are not pretty. My arm turned purple and felt tingly. It was a little swollen. I could tell it was vascular so it was back to the doctor for an ultrasound. I was terrified my pretty port would need to be removed or worse. Instead, I used a heating pad and was put on Xarelto, a blood thinner that doesn’t have alcohol restrictions.
The only thing that sucks is that is does restrict my exercise. I can’t lift much without aggravating the clot which means continuing my aerial silks classes is right out. I’m crushed by this, especially because I anticipate keeping the port for the full year of treatment. I miss being in the air a lot.
On the bright side, my boyfriend and I had an unforgettable moment at a folk music festival. A drunk bartender asked what the lump in my chest was and I was able to answer without crying. My man gave me a very precious compliment about answering the drunkard with grace.
Every day is an up and a down.
It is amazing how singularly focused one becomes. In one blink every problem, every single thing I worried about, was gone and replaced by this one thing. Immediately, nothing was more important, nothing higher in priority.
This unfairly applies to other people as well. Suddenly, your crappy job, your parking ticket, your misbehaving children pale in comparison to my problems. Oh, you wrecked your car? I win. You got fired? I still win. Your house burned down and you broke your leg and you got dumped? All in the same day? I’m so sorry to hear that. It is just that…I win.
Even mass shooting and terrorism gets minimum attention. Am I even human anymore?
One of the most disheartening things is that my friends and family don’t want to talk to me about their problems anymore because they know I win. Trust me, I’d love to have their problems. I’d love to think or talk about anything else. I’d love to help them solve their problem.
Sitting in the hot tub with my mom, she reminds me that there is some benefit to having the slate wiped clean in an instant, to know just what your problem is and to have a laser-focused plan to solve it. Others have to juggle many problems, some with no obvious solution. True.
Also, perhaps I won’t be able to be troubled by small stuff down the road when I’m well again. I will literally not be able to be bothered, a phrase I already use frequently. That would be nice.
Are problems relative? Discuss.