Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Tears, Fears, and Radiation

Okay, okay, that was a bad replacement for "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles", but you've got to give me brownie points for trying!

The other day, I noticed that some friends of mine seemed to want to avoid talking to me about the news that the surgeons didn't get all the cancer. Of course, I can't read their minds, but I can only guess that they weren't sure what to say or what to do to help me and just maybe, maybe, they didn't want to see me burst into tears. I am still pretty emotional but as my boyfriend, my counselor, and several of my colleagues have reminded me: it's okay to cry and if you're uncomfortable with it, then that's your problem and not mine. It's better for me, healthwise, to let it all out. So, be warned . . . I am trying to gain my equilibrium and there are times when I don't cry. But I still do sometimes and it's okay. I'm really doing okay, the tears just need to come out sometime, okay?

I also want everyone to know that I want to talk about the whole thing - treatment options, how I'm feeling, etc. Please, please don't feel like you have to walk on eggshells around me. If I break into tears, it's only for a moment and then I'm able to talk about what's going on pretty calmly and logically. It takes more energy for me to introduce the topic, so I really really appreciate it if you ask me questions. I welcome them and I want to talk about it. So, in terms of what to say, ask me how I'm doing and what's going to happen next and also tell me a good joke! I do need to laugh. In terms of what to do: hugs are appreciated. I'm still able to function with all the daily mundane things to do (that is, except for cook my own dinner!); if and when I can't, I will ask you for help. Regarding dinner - at least two or three nights a week, my son is with his dad, so meeting somewhere for dinner is always a good something to do.

I mentioned Jeanne Sather's blog, entitled "The Assertive Cancer Patient". Again, the address is:


I bring up her blog because there have been several times that Jeanne has stated that she's learned to stay away from certain people for her own mental health. The two categories I remember that she mentions are: 1) those who are afraid she's going to die; and 2) those who are still dealing with their own fears of cancer. As you can imagine, those who fall into either of these categories have the net effect of 1) depressing the cancer patient, which then 2) takes away any positive energy that patient may have. I want to add a third category, 3) for those of us who are older siblings or are the take-charge type, people who bring to us their own fears of death and/or cancer make us want to take care of you rather than allow you to take care of us. We need you to take care of us. As my counselor mentioned earlier today, if you come to me in tears because of your own fears of death or cancer, take your tears to your own support system, and then approach me positively and with strength. I don't have energy for you otherwise and I might just learn to ask you to go somewhere else.

Okay, now on to the radiation. I just spoke with the radiation oncologist. The plan right now is to go on Xeloda and Tykerb (if insurance allows) and in about a month, we'll assess how effective they are. If they've proven to shrink the red "sheet" of cancer, then we start radiation. I'll have radiation for 6 1/2 weeks. In the meantime, I stop the tissue expansion as it's easier to radiate with less expansion. A month or so after radiation stops, then we can go back to expanding my tissue. That's about 3 to 3 1/2 months from now. I think I have at least two more expansions to get to a "B" cup. Then, it's a few weeks after that to get the permanent implants. So, I'm at least five months away from getting the permanent implants. When you see me during that time period, I will still be relatively small and lopsided! Just so you're warned . . .

Again, TO HELL WITH CANCER! And, thank you to all my colleagues who were gracious enough today to chat with me in the hall or in my office and ask me questions and give me hugs and allow me to cry in front of them. It's really wonderful to have such supportive colleagues! Love to you all.


Jeanne said...

Dee--good post!

Here's something for you that Amorette came across and forwarded to me. I think I'm going to order just one, or maybe order a pair but only wear one--on the right side where I'm missing a breast. Am I getting weird? Cancer has certainly made me bold.



Dee said...

Jeanne - Those are too too funny! Of course I need to order a pair! I wonder if she can make them like saline or gel implants, since I will either have one or the other when all is said and done! Hee hee.

One of our graduate students here brought me all sorts of boob paraphernalia that I believe she got at a porno shop. I should take a picture of them all and post them, although I'd hate to have my blog misconstrued as a porno site? Hmm . . .

Actually, wearing one on the right side where you're missing your breast is a good idea - then you're balanced out, right? Sounds kinda feng shuish!

mynameischarlene said...

Amen to ya sista! Good for you and of course great for us - but i'm like a 1/4 of a world away (net hugs, net hugs!)

How agressive is your cancer? I've been hearing comments here and there - of course in Nome.

Well, we're praying for you. Your in our thoughts - like daily... wondering what your upto, when we're having the next fat tire, etc, etc.

Jeanne said...

She makes them in different shades too, so we can all get the right color!

Dee said...

I'm not sure yet how aggressive the cancer is. It is (or was) spreading through the skin - I think I noticed the red spot spread about 1 to 2 inches in about 2-3 weeks. That's why I outlined it in marker so I can keep better track. We don't know where else it's spread, although the bone scan tomorrow and the CT scan on Friday will let me know more. I figured folks in Nome were wondering - I think my mom called everyone up there! The hope is that it's just there in my skin and chest wall tissue, but not the bone or the liver or anything else. In the meantime, let's have a virtual Fat Tire toast!

Liz Kreger said...

Love your attitude, Dee. TAKE NO PRISONERS!

I've learned over the years that its far better to laugh at cancer than to let it get me down. I do my crying when necessary, but that doesn't happen very often anymore. Mostly I get pissed.

Did you have a double mastectomy? I'm reading your posts and haven't gotten that far back yet.