Breast Cancer, breast cancer recurrance, Chemotherapy, Coping with Cancer, expander, Lymphovascular Invasion, mastectomy, moms and cancer, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized

It’s Nathan’s World

 

 

I worked throughout my entire pregnancy. I worked while I was in the hospital with an epidural. I worked with a brand new baby in tow.  I worked after dropping Nathan off at his first day of full-day preschool when he was 18 months old. I worked a lot.

And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

The day I returned to my job after taking FMLA (Family Medical Leave of Absence), I was let go from my position as an “at will” employee. Since that time, I have looked for work, worked part-time jobs, contractual jobs and adjunct teaching jobs while Nathan went to kindergarten.

And then, bam pow  the school year was over.

Nathan and I would be spending a lot of time together. 72 days together. 1008 waking hours ‘mano a mano’. I admit it, I’ve learned a lot from my son. His pearls of wisdom, so profound, that I had to write each one down as to not forget.

Lesson 1: Don’t make empty threats: While out driving somewhere (probably the 99 cent store- my favorite place on earth), Nathan was, as usual, pressing my buttons.

Me: I’m going to turn this car right around!

Nathan: No you’re not. There’s a “No U Turn” sign.

Lesson 2: Dad knows everyone: The best part about having a loose tooth is the money. After all it’s all about the Benjamin’s, right?

Nathan: Mom! I have a loose tooth! How much will the Tooth Fairy give me?

Me: I don’t know. Ask your dad. He’s installing her garbage disposal today.

Nathan: Really? No. Wait. Yeah. That makes sense. Dad knows pretty much everyone.

Lesson 3: Don’t mess with Santa: After losing his second tooth, Nathan found a check to cash, from the Tooth Fairy, under his pillow the next morning. Later that day, the following conversation ensued:

Nathan: Mom, I know the Tooth Fairy isn’t real because magic isn’t real. It’s you and dad. tooth fairy

Me: Huh. So then what about the Easter Bunny?

Nathan: Not real.

Me: Santa?

Nathan: All those presents? Like you and dad would ever buy all that stuff. Yeah. Right. Santa is totally real.

Lesson 4: There’s never too much of a good thing: I have always taught Nathan to be proud of his body, and to use the right words for each part. During another average day, Nathan declared:

“I love my penis. You know why? It is so unique!”

Lesson 5: “If you just listen, you’ll catch the early worm” (A direct quote from the dad): I find myself using a lot of idioms that I end up having to also explain. Once, when Nathan was much younger I said “… and then we’ll go from there.” It took me forever to explain that “from there” was not a real place. Now that he is older (a whopping 6-years old), Nathan also uses idioms.

“Dad, are you leaving (his truck was running) because you’re wasting daylight on your truck!”

“Think before you leap!”

and… “It’s a blister outside!”

Lesson 6: Hello Tree. Hello Apple: I can’t say I’m surprised (and secretly very pleased).

Me: Nathan, slide over (in booth)

Nathan: I can’t. I have an invisible fat friend sitting there.

and…

Me: Which way do you want to go (pointing left and right)?

Nathan: Apple.

and …

Me: Can I cuddle with you a little longer?

Nathan: You can cuddle with me as long as you want. Until I’m dead. Then that would be weird.

Lesson 8: Write it down. Write it all down: Keep a journal, blog, photo diary – but document it. I want everyone to appreciate this little boy as much as I do. Because he is truly amazing and funny and witty. And compassionate:

“Mom, I’m sorry your sad. I wish we were rich. Not to get stuff but just so you don’t have to work anymore.”

and smart.

Very, VERY smart: “Some people have a big brain but don’t know a thing”

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Breast Cancer, breast cancer recurrance, Chemotherapy, Coping with Cancer, expander, Lymphovascular Invasion, mastectomy, moms and cancer, Moores Cancer Institute, Oncotype, reconstructive surgery, Tamoxifen, Uncategorized

But are you sure, sure?

Silv, my grandmother, basically hitchhiked across the country in the 1930s because women weren’t supposed do that kind of thing. Until the ripe old age of 93, at 4′ 10″ – no one questioned Silv. You wanted her in your corner, not looking across the ring at you. So when you start to doubt yourself, (Inner dialogue… “It’s not you. It’s me.”) repeat after me “WWSD” (What Would Silv Do?)

I recently had an ultrasound following a mammogram. Totally routine visit. Nothing to panic about. You know me well enough to know that there is always an ‘except’, ‘but’ or ‘however’… so this should come as no surprise. Since a mammogram can only be done on the right side, I assumed that the ultrasound would focus on my left side and remaining lymph nodes. You know what happens when we ass-u-me…

After leaving the radiology center- I called my oncologist who said that she only ordered an ultrasound on the right side because there is nothing to see on the left side. “You’re going to have to trust me. I’m your doctor.” You’re cured!” she declared.

OHHHHH!!!!! I get it now! The surgeon was able to get every single solitary microscopic cancer cell that had already invaded my vascular system. Got it! So there is NO POSSIBLE way one of those little buggers could have gotten lose and wandered off. Right-o! No need to worry! Check and check!

sheathed             sheathed too

Delving into the bottomless pit of despair (AKA the Internet) – I was guided to Thermography Screening? Ever hear of a mood ring? It’s sort of like that but bigger! Here’s how it works: when your body is cooled down in a temperature-controlled room, normal blood vessels constrict to conserve heat. Blood vessels that are fighting infection or multiplying like bunnies are working so hard that they create their own heat source.

Our ‘ladies’ are teaming with estrogen fed, law-abiding breast cells that follow their own vascular rules and patterns.  The Bales Thermal Image Processor camera’s job is to screen for any no goodniks before they recruit other no goodniks and form the No Goodnik Gang of No Goodniks.

lVI PARTY

 

The WISE AND POWERFUL FDA has not yet approved this type of voodoo witchcraft, so I decided to pay out of pocket and give it a go. I was guided into a really REALLY cold room and told to disrobe from the waist up. Next, the thermographer put an ice pack on my back to make me even colder. Maybe the FDA was right…  “We” were now ready for the next step where the Bales TIP (thermal camera) was used to take pictures of my ladies (who were at full attention). Thankfully this only took about 15 minutes, after which time I was allowed to chip the icicles from my disrobed torso. Now all I had to do was wait for the doctor to call with the results in two to three days.

You can image my surprise when two short hours later the Dr. Sellens at http://www.mypinkimage.com/called with the results. That’s never a good sign. But it’s okay since it’s just witchcraft after all. The thermography showed that lefty has vascular patterns and heat patterns well outside the normal limits. Righty, tired of being left out, also had ‘atypical vascular patterns’ but still within normal limits.

no goodnick

 

I called my Physician’s Assistant (PA) to help me navigate my ‘should I panic?’ emotional state. She has been, and continues to be, the only person who doesn’t tell me that anti-anxiety meds will make all my problems magically disappear. She actually… wait for it…

listening ears

 

She ordered an MRI with contrast and promised to call me as soon as she got the results, which was later that same day. I recently found out that all this happened while she was on vacation. Vacation! What kind of amazing person does this??? I’ll tell you who- Annie (I have to keep her last name secret from all you PA Poachers!).

Are you dying to hear the results? To find out if you should start making a voodoo doll and practicing witchcraft?

Righty has mild background enhancement (laterally) with nonspecific foci. Well that cleared things right up, didn’t it! And… back to the pit. According to the University of Washington (2015), breast cancer survivors whose MRI showed mild to moderate background enhancement were nine times more likely to develop recurring breast cancer than those with minimal to no enhancement. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? What’s one study? Meh. Oh… Wait. The Journal of Radiology (2016) concluded that moderate or marked background enhancement is associated with significantly greater odds of breast cancer. Oh.

Interesting… what about Lefty you ask? No suspicious enhancement (whew!), but there is a 1cm nonspecific internal mammary lymph node ‘situation’ that may be reactive. (In our house we use the word ‘situation’ a lot by the way). Common causes of nonspecific reactive nodes include infections like a common cold, an autoimmune disorder and, cancer. Huh. You don’t say.

So now what? I have another MRI scheduled in three months from now “just to check”, says my oncologist. “It’s probably nothing but we’ll redo the test in three months just to be sure”.  Be sure? I thought you were sure? 100% sure to be exact.

In truth, it probably is absolutely nothing but I, on the other hand, am 100% sure that I am Silv’s granddaughter and that you do not want to be looking across the ring at me. Of this I am sure, sure.

 

 

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