My mother is my sister. Don't get all weirded out and think I have some twisted version of that Chevy Chase "Vacation" movie going on..... We are breast cancer sisters and we are living proof that little has changed in since 1987.
In 1987, when my mom joined the club, my daughter was two years old. I don't want my daughter to be my sister, too. If you missed yesterday's sneaky attempt at a bait and switch to convince everyone join Army of Women (and to get all of their friends, to join too), please take a peek. My mom, my (real) sisters, my sister sisters, my daughter and I could really use as much support as you are willing to toss in our direction.
This morning, my mom is back at Sloan Kettering for yet another test. We are SURVIVORS. And the guilt associated with bitching about the tests and the doctor visits and (today, for my mom) the scans, is becoming quite burdensome. The thing is..... there is fear. Indeed, it can be terrorizing. Test time, doctor follow ups, we all know the drill. You can't just quit cancer. Pick up the marbles and say, C-ya, I'm outta here.
It doesn't work that way but I'm not breaking new ground here or reinventing the wheel. I'm simply restating the obvious. Maybe it needs to be restated a million billion trillion more times and perhaps three non club members MIGHT catch a glimpse into what it means when one of us says, "the oxygen was sucked from my lungs" or "my chest felt like I was being stomped on by an elephant" or "I just remember the room began to spin and then I was on the floor" .....
Two days ago, I was blindsided. Because I know my mom reads my blog every day, I had no intention of "outing" this little episode until it faded into the background. Protecting mom because why should she hand wring over what I am sure (just like I was told all those other times, ahem) will turn out to be a big nothing. I just finished up my October round of doctor follow ups and tests. I was free and clear until next spring. Oncology is now at six month intervals. Gynecology, after over THREE years of three to five month intervals was set for annual visits. I am one year post op. Pinktober is over and I can put this chapter of tests and check ups to a close. Yay Me!
As I was gearing up for the onslaught of trick or treaters (doorbell rang exactly TWICE and now I have a crisis AND twelve bags of chocolate), the phone rang. I recognized the number immediately. I see doctors at four different buildings at Sloan Kettering (five if I count the actual hospital where I have been for seven different surgical "procedures" since 2006). They pretty much own half of the real estate in Manhattan thanks to the Rockefellers and the Lauders (as in "Estee"). Oh yeah and Messrs. Sloan & Kettering.
Where am I in this mess? Oh yes. That stupid phone. I am in the clear. Even though I know the call is from one of the Sloan offices, it's too late for anything other than the research people contacting me about the extension software so I can exercise my brain a bit more. Soon, I should be able to remember a string of seven numbers with relative ease. Presently, I'm cool with five, semi-ok with six and the minute the seventh digit is added to the string, I don't remember ANY of the numbers. Not too sure WTF that's all about, I'm just really glad to see that they are calling. I enjoyed some of those silly games I played back in June and July prior to embarking on my adventures into blogging/tweeting/volunteering.
And this is why I'm better off remaining on constant high alert. My guard was down. I am fine. I'm five years post surgery. Last year's DaVinci surgery was really to be "proactive" for any other "female cancers." High risk and other issues where the doctor was following me closely before she suggested, "it's time." Being followed closely is nerve racking. Can you feel me? I know you can.....
Having a surgeon at a hospital where they primarily "suggest" options, strongly recommend a total hysterectomy..... well, let's just say by the time she uttered those words, I was already fluent in the language of cancer as spoken at a major cancer center, and in cancer speak, her recommendation meant, "Hop to it, AnneMarie, this is a ticking time bomb." I didn't hop altogether that quickly. I didn't want to spoil the summer of 2010. The surgery was on October 1, 2010.
Is it ironic that precisely thirteen months later, on October 31, 2011, I was listening to the nurse say, hell, I don't really remember anything beyond "abnormal cells, bad pap" when my chest began to constrict, the oxygen was sucked from the room and my head began to spin. And so, I wait. To schedule another test, for my mom to get results of her scan, to have my test done, to get my results. The big wait. That's the thing with this cancer shit. It's all about the waiting.
I can assure you waiting sucks even more when THIS is the last email I looked at before heading to bed last night. Right now, I can picture Laura Linney, the red nail polish, The Big C and ringing in my ears, a melody. "Is this some kind of a joke......." Surely, you must be kidding me and this MUST be a joke.
And once again, mom and daughter, treated almost identically despite 19 years between diagnoses........ this MUST be a really truly unbelievably twisted joke.... in the same 48 hour time span, some 24 years after mom first stepped into CancerLand and five years after I sauntered in behind her, both of us, blindsided by MORE tests.