Friday, March 15, 2013

A Year Ago I Had Cancer


A year ago, I had cancer.
The big scary word.
A small lump in my breast.
Mammogram.
Sonogram.
Needle biopsy.
Blood tests.
MRI
PET scan.
After all those tests, my surgeon recommended lumpectomy.
Lumpectomy didn’t get it all.
Mastectomy.
It’s out-patient surgery.  
The lab report says this time they did get it all. Yay! 
From the time I found the lump, my immediate thought was get this out of me!
I cannot understand my friend who put off surgery for years until it was too late. What was she thinking?
Arguments with the surgeon – No I don’t want reconstruction surgery.
I can’t think of a single thing I could do with a bag of salt water stuffed under my chest muscles. It would just get in the way of my yoga.
No, I don’t want to take pills that will give me painful joints, brittle bones and short term memory loss – all for a 1.5% reduction in my chance of getting cancer in the other breast, an no increase in longevity likelihood.
Getting cancer in one breast doesn’t make me any more likely to get cancer in the other one than someone who has never had cancer.
The health system now treats me like I’m high risk, but I’m not.
Medicare will now buy 4 bras a year for me with pockets for my prosthetic.
They will buy a silicone prosthetic every 2 years.   I prefer the knitted ones from eBay.
A year ago cancer was a scary word.
Now, I know it’s a whole range of words. Cancer means different things at different times in different people. Cancer can getting a part chopped off.  “If thine eye offend thee...” Cancer can mean you’re dying, like my friend the chiropractor. Cancer can mean you need many rounds of chemo and surgery every few years (a search-and-destroy-mission lifestyle). Most of all cancer means choices – choices that must be made in a hurry – and doctors don’t have the time to give all the advice needed – so it’s off to the internet!  Hurray for the internet!!!!!
I was lucky.  I didn’t need radiation or chemo. They got it all with the mastectomy. I’ve got my life back, minus one breast. Cancer can change lives. I just have extra exercises and stretches for the chest area.
Some people get great ephemeral insights and discover new meaning in their lives. I got left out on that one – unless the new meaning is that no matter how well I take care of myself, I can still be zapped by the randomness of the universe – but it doesn’t really matter – life goes on. 
I had to change my self-image – I was a lucky person who doesn’t even catch the flu.   Now I’m a lucky person who had cancer and it’s gone.

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