Saturday, September 28, 2013

a few days of rambling

So, I have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  I resist saying I "have" cancer, because I don't like the conotation of that.  It is just visiting a while, and will soon be kicked out.
Throughout all this I think of Melissa, and know that she knows every step I'm about to take.  She is helping me by taking me to see the different surgeons, and sitting in on stuff, so as to be a second set of ears.  I know she is busy in her life, and I really appreciate the time she has made for me.
It is just weird that we are going through this one after the other.  I mean, she just finished all her surgeries and treatments this past july, and then I go and get diagnosed at the end of august. 
And my poor sister and mother have to live through the worrying.
Right now I am waiting for the PET scan results, which tell if there is cancer elsewhere in the body.  That is a scary one.  I expect it to come out clear, that's all I can say.
This is all very surreal in a way.  You just go through the motions of what you have to do until the day of the operation, when it gets all too real, I would think.
At first when I saw the plastic surgeon he was telling me I'm not a great candidate for reconstruction because of my weight and my smoking.  Really bummed me out.  Despite that, he explained all the different types of recon available, and I would opt for the expanders like Melissa had, I figured.  I left that office feeling like I wouldn't be able to get the reconstruction, and I did a bit of crying.
Next, when I saw the breast surgeon, she spoke as if the recon was a given, and when scheduling my surgery (Oct 11th) she made sure the plastic surgeon was available, too.  She said if anything went wrong along the way, they could always take out the expanders and stop it.  I'm glad I will at least get a chance at it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 4am
The PET scan was clear.  No other cancer in my body, Thank God.
It is all coming very quickly, just a couple of weeks away, more or less.  And I know what I am in for having witnessed Melissa just having gone through it all for the past almost two years.  I am not as young and fit as she is... a perfect female specimen.... So I do not nearly imagine I will come through with such flying colors as she did, but I'll make my way as best I can.
I don't know how she did it at her age, it would've devastated me.  And I guess it did her, of course.  But man, she handled it all so well, God bless her.
I have no great qualms about losing these saggy breasts I have now.  I don't like looking at them, and they get in the way.  But I want breasts, even if they are fake ones.... that's why the reconstruction is important to me.  I think I will be able to handle it... it's just  a feeling.  My body has always healed well, I think.  I don't want to wear prothestic bras, man. 
As for the cancer, since that's what this is essentially about, I am certain it will disappear once the surgery is done.  Hopefully it's in just one of those lymph nodes, but I think they take out a bunch of them, just in case.  And one will be taken out on the other side.  They will cut all this shit out, I'm sure.   And then there's the chemo.... although no one's spoke to me yet about whether I will get chemo or radiation, or both, but I'm assuming chemo at least.  That's going to be a tough haul.  My body won't be happy.  I'll have to work on that in some way.  And my hair will fall out soon after that.  Wow, it just keeps getting better, huh? Geez.  Tree says she thinks that will affect me the most, and I'm sure it won't be pretty.  I just hope facial hair goes with it, that'll be one plus.  Of course, whatever goes will come back again.... after a time. 
What kind of photojournalistic view should I take of this?  Well, this could be the first of the journalistic part, but I need photos, and self portraits are not easy with at least a tripod.  I will be enlisting the help of Melissa and Evie to take some pics of me along the route of treatment.  I wanted to do that with Melissa... had a pic of her at her first chemo (but before the chemo started), but never followed up on it, because it felt kind of intrusive, really.  Maybe I will feel that way about my own self, too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9pm
I am having a big scare about insurance and whether I will get the needed coverage for an operation with the surgeons I want.  I have to see about getting supplemental medicaid benefits for medicare.  That would involve paying a monthly spend down.  It's all a big headache to me, and I feel like I have no time.
Other things going on, too, that I don't want to write about, but that weigh heavily on my mind.
Sometimes the truth about one's life can be too vivid, and not everybody needs to see that.
I'm not sure when or if I'll post this on my blog.
Tomorrow is my primary doctor, and the plastic surgeon after that.

Friday, September 27, 2013
Well, went to the plastic surgeons office yesterday, and really just spent time with his nurse, who explained all the pre-op and post-op instructions.  Lots of information, and it had my head spinning.  She said I might wake up from surgery WITHOUT being reconstructed, and that made me cry.  It all depends on a test they do during surgery, with a machine called The Spy... which sees if there is adequate blood supply in the chest wall to proceed with reconstruction.  Because I'm a smoker, it may not be adequate, in which case they wouldn't proceed with it.  It's going to be a little devastating to wake up to bad news like that.
I have to get blood drawn at a lab, and a chest xray before I can get medical clearance, and I still don't know what's going to happen with insurance and crap like that.  There is just too much to do before surgery, and not enough time to do it, it seems.  I'm getting very tired from it all.


  1. I am speechless as to what to say. All I can offer is one day at a time, meditation might help, positive attitude and most certainly lots of courage and be strong in what you are about to go through. Writing about it definitely helps. Sending along lots of hugs for you, Barbara. You will get through this.

  2. oh Barb - I wish you the best, try to take it one day at a time and don't worry (I know that's hard). you'll be good and fine in the long run and you have to take the long view of this whole thing. Please know you are in our thoughts, and it would be great if Melissa or your sister could post here to say how you are doing.
    from one brooklyn girl to another, Mim

  3. Thank you so much, Stephanie and Mim.

  4. I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. It is enough to make anyone's head spin and heart ache. I send you light and prayers and wish that each step of your journey is filled with grace and courage.

  5. I wish I had been here sooner. My thoughts and prayers are full steam heading your way, Barbara. You wrote of this with a strength you may not even be aware of. Hang in, my friend. Sometimes the hardest leads you to a blessing.



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