S.N.A.F.U.

I caved today. 

I called my oncologist’s office for my CT Scan results. 

Normally, I’d wait until my appointment (which is still ten days away).  Normally I’d repeat the ‘no news is good news’ mantra over and over in my head until the urge to call disappeared.  Normally, I’d trust my knowledge of my own body and my intuition to give me a head’s up that there’s trouble somewhere inside me. 

Normally.

But March hasn’t been a normal month. 

First Sarah from SpruceHill told us about the recurrence of her breast cancer.  It started behind her implant and has spread.  She has metastatic disease now.  What does that mean?  Here is the National Cancer Institute’s answer:

    • What is metastasis, and how does it happen?
    • Metastasis means the spread of cancer. Cancer cells can break away from a primary tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system (the system that produces, stores, and carries the cells that fight infections). That is how cancer cells spread to other parts of the body.
    • When cancer cells spread and form a new tumor in a different organ, the new tumor is a metastatic tumor. The cells in the metastatic tumor come from the original tumor. This means, for example, that if breast cancer spreads to the lungs, the metastatic tumor in the lung is made up of cancerous breast cells (not lung cells). In this case, the disease in the lungs is metastatic breast cancer (not lung cancer). Under a microscope, metastatic breast cancer cells generally look the same as the cancer cells in the breast.

     

  • Now she is back in chemotherapy.  It has only been 26 months since her original diagnosis. 

    Then Susan (you may know her better as WhyMommy) from Toddler Planet had a bad scan while chasing down the origin of some weird pain in her arms, back and neck. And it’s cancer, too!  It’s a regional recurrence.  Just like it sounds, a regional recurrence happens, not necessarily in the breast, but in the general region – usually the lymph nodes or skin.

    Imaginis says a regional recurrence is rare.  Heh.  Why should Susan stop now.  I think she actually had three kinds of breast cancer at once. 

    “Regional breast cancer recurrences are rare, occurring in approximately 2% of all breast cancer cases. Most often, regional recurrence appears as a cancerous axillary (underarm) lymph node that was not removed during primary treatment. Treatment involves simply removing the cancerous node. Regional recurrence in the lymph nodes of the neck or above the collarbone usually indicates more aggressive cancers.”

    It’s no wonder I’ve been nervous waiting for my own CT Scan results.  In my experience these bad news things most often come in threes.  I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop.  When I found out that Sarah had no inkling her cancer was back, and Susan’s doctor didn’t call with the bad biopsy results but waited a week until her appointment to tell her the news… well, there went the only two rationales that keep me sane during the wait.  Add to that that I will have my boys with me for my appointment next week because it’s spring break and it became the perfect storm. 

    So I caved and I called my oncologist.  And I got my results.  Officially, there is no evidence of recurrence or metastasis in my CT Scan. 

    Whew!  I can breathe again!  I’ve broken the chain of bad scans and can get back to normal.  Or at least what ever passes for normal in a cancer survivor’s life. 

    Ob la di, ob la da

    I have not blogging much at all of late. There’s a lot of good in that and a fair amount of bad as well. I’ve been busy as a one-armed paper hanger. Work is backed up. I’m rarely away from my desk. I’m not taking my breaks or walking like I should so my weight is creeping upwards ever so slowly. Of course, all that busy at work makes my days fly by, too. When I get home there is a whole other life that gets crammed into the few hours between 4:00 pm and 8:00 when the kids go to bed. There’s Little League practice twice a week and now games twice a week as well. Therapy for Danny once a week. The ever present laundry and my FaceBook addiction. And filling every spare minute in between is my photography passion.

    That’s the good stuff. I’ve been too busy living life to spend much time blogging about it. On the negative side, I’m coming up on my 25,000 mile (2.5 year) check up. As always, I start worrying out of the blue. This time my location of concern is my right hip. It has been hurting for a couple of months now. But the last few weeks it’s become so sore that it wakes me at night and I can barely walk up stairs. So this check up, I get a bonus bone scan!

    Tomorrow is my chest/abdomen/pelvic CT. Thursday is my bone scan. Then I have to wait until the 14th (!) before I see my oncologist for the results. I’ll never make it. I haven’t even had the scans yet and I want to call for the results already. Yet, I hope I don’t here from her office before my appointment, know what I mean????

    Of course, when everything turns out to be just fine I will have made it two and a half years beyond treatment for Inflammatory Breast Cancer. THAT will be a post in and of itself.

    In sadder news, Mothers With Cancer lost another of it’s own this week. Alabama Pink (Manda) of Whoa, Camel! fame has lost her battle with leukemia. She leaves behind a beautiful 3 year old son, Alastair and the love of her life, Adrian. You can read about her passing on Adrian’s blog Rainbows! Puppies! Leukemia. Say a little prayer today for Manda’s family.

    Family and friends

    What a busy, busy week I have had. I’ve been away at a class for a week (one more to go) in Port Hueneme, CA. That’s just south of Ventura for all you map types. The class, Contracting for Intermediate Mission Support, is sometimes kicking my butt. It’s been a long, loooong time since I’ve had to pay this kind of attention to things. And the learning! Gah! It’s exhausting. Also, exhilarating! I’d enjoy it more if it weren’t for the pressure of tests and passing the class and all that stuff.

    Over the weekend (can you believe I got a whole weekend without children???) I went to visit my family out in the Inland Empire. My Grammy had to have a pacemaker put in last week and my Grandpa is still in a rehab facility after his stroke in December. He just turned 90 years old last week. I stayed at my Aunt’s house. On Saturday I went out to see my Grandparents.

    Aging is difficult. It’s hard to watch from the outside. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for the individual. Transitions are never easy.

    On my way back to school I stopped and had lunch with Mary Beth Volpini who also blogs over at Mothers With Cancer.


    Mary Beth is every bit a charming and genuine in person as she is online. It was so wonderful to finally meet another of the wonderful MWC women. I wish I could meet each and every one. But now I’ve met Susan and Mary Beth… Two down, twenty-one to go.

    Say, say, oh, Playmate

    Danny had his first play date Wednesday. And he actually played! Our sitter said he pretty much interacted like any normal child. I wish I’d been there. I’ve never really seen him play with anyone but Ben before.

    It was a full day. They had ice cream.

    They climbed on a tree stump. Danny heard his new friend jump to the ground… and he jumped too. Amazing.


    Danny also took his friend to visit his favorite climbing tree.

    They may just be the future terrors of 2nd Street.

    If I could save time in a bottle…

    One of my new co-blogger friends has been victimized. She was given hope for a cure for her cancer. A radical new surgery, Pelvic Exenteration, was set before her like a glass of cool, sweet water to one dying of thirst. A cure. Hope against hope. Life with her 6 year old son. A future.

    But like water in the desert it proved to be a mirage. Her cancer has already spread beyond her pelvic cavity, up towards her liver. This radical surgery in which she will lose so much of herself, cannot cure her any longer. It is too late for that. And it cannot give her greater longevity. Time, is the most precious of commodities.

    What it can give her is quality of life in the time she has left.

    A consolation prize at best.

    Jen is feeling understandably down this week. Stop by and read her powerful words upon receiving this disappointing news and offer her support and encouragement.

    Ten Thousand Words

    I am a baaaaaaad blogger. I have neglected my blog in favor of other blogs, work, friends, family and miscellaneous recreating. Well, it is summer after all.

    I did get a highly anticipated new camera. It is my Stimulus Camera (bought with my gov’t stimulus check) and I love it – even if I don’t know how to work it very well yet. So in honor of my new favorite toy I offer you a pictorial diary of the past 11 days.

    Go ahead. Get some popcorn. I’ll wait.

    12 JULY 2008

    First, our new kitty I told you about, Razzmataz. We got her on a Thursday evening.

    On Saturday afternoon D was opening and closing the door like he likes to do (a lot) and she got out. I didn’t want to spook her by trying to chase her down so I just let her check things out. I was pretty certain she’d come home. And she did. Just before dark. Unfortunately, our other cat met her at the property line and laid down the law. Apparently, we are now, and shall forever be, a one cat family.

    I have seen Razzmataz around the neighborhood. She looks well fed and happy but scrams at the merest sight of me. D, of course, speaks of her as if she has never left.

    18 JULY 2008

    I spent an hour trying to get to know my new camera. This is Morro Rock from the bay by my house.

    19 JULY 2008

    And this is the same evening, from across the estuary. I used the warm color setting. What a difference!
    This is Daddy-O and I at my friend Raj’s wedding. Doesn’t he look hot? Well, I thought so, anyway. Except for the part where any food that came within 2 feet of him jumped onto his shirt, he was completely sexy all night. If you look closely in the picture I am using my boobs to hide his stains – and the bride & groom hadn’t even arrived at the reception yet!!!

    It was a wonderful wedding. Even though I had to sneak in while everyone was standing for Mindy to walk down the aisle… Daddy-O might have made it for the vows, I’m not sure. He had to park the car. I made up for the extra stress of being late (I hate that) by drinking happily at the reception. The perfect evening weather, beautiful beach and all the wedding cake and beverages elicited promises of car sex for Daddy-O on the way home.
    Unfortunately, Daddy-O was a bit anxious to leave and it was still light. This is the view from the lookout above Pirate’s Cove (our local nudist beach). We were here looking for a parking spot. HINT: Pirate’s Cove is not a good spot for ahem. It is an incredibly busy location.

    So we called around and went to the B&B around the corner from our house. There is nothing like a MIL at home to ruin a good rowdy round of wedding sex.

    20 JULY 2008

    The next day we did a little parking of a different kind.

    21-24 JULY 2008

    Work. Last week of preschool. More work. Blah, blah, blah. Such an interference with real life.

    25 JULY 2008

    Last night Daddy-O, D and I went to the Mid-State Fair. We had a blast & didn’t get home until after midnight. Steely Dan was playing on the main grandstand. Watching all the kids run around the carnival brought back so many memories of high school. It was a great night.

    26 JULY 2008

    Today was a beach day with my ILs. The day could not have been more perfect. Warm with just enough of a breeze to keep it nice – but not sandblast us.

    I thought I looked soooooooo much better in this suit. I may just throw it away now. I bought it 30 pounds ago. To my horror, I am now wondering just how awful I must have looked in it then. Gah!


    This picture just makes me smile. D is a gem. How could you ever be sad or grumpy with that smiley face around. I love him too much.

    And that is that.

    Punk Rock Mommy – In Memorium

    I have nothing really to say. Andrea is gone. She passed away this morning from complications stemming from Inflammatory Breast Cancer, with her family close by her side. She has left us with some parting words of wisdom, however.

    I didn’t know Andrea except through her blog. It doesn’t matter, though. I still sit here posting through my tears at the untimely departure of a sister and friend. Her writing was honest and raw. Full of grace and praise when there could easily have been rancor and spite. She made me, in the words of Jack Nicholson, want to be a better person.

    Say a special prayer tonight for our friend Andrea, Punk Rock Mommy, and her family. The blogosphere has dimmed a bit with her passing.

    Good-bye, Andrea, until we meet in Heaven.