Good news, Bears

The events of the last 13 days have left me rocked and drained.  As per my diagnosis of an aggressive endometrial cancer, plans and protocols were put into action by doctors, nurses, hospitals and family.

Within three days, I was scheduled for surgery – hysterectomy with lymph node removal – all by the state-of-the-art robotic surgery machine and Kaiser’s well-trained staff.  I am at home recovering (OUCH), learning to walk and using some really old cuss words and magic spells’

Results were in on the surgery.  Cancers are graded on aggressiveness and advance behavior.  My rare cancer (my doctor has seen only two cases) was at a 3 stage and the surgery revealed that the grade was 1B.  My lymph nodes for my uterus and my aorta were also removed and were classified as benign – no advance by the cancer into that body conduit.  It had not spread.  They were able to get the mass out contained.

Now, the hard part – getting chemo and radiation – to ensure it does not come back.  Right now, if I do nothing I am at 50-50 chance of it returning at some point.  With the added procedures, we bring that down to years of living to do.

I can’t tell you how rattled we have been these three weeks.  I never would have known except for the blood spotting.  From living my life to cancer diagnosis to surgery and every emotion a person can have in three weeks.  We are still in shock – happy shock, but still guarded – got to get through those two other procures and they will take place over the next four months.

Thank you to those of you who brought meals over for us – and to those who sent cards – thank you – they offer hope and to know that you are not alone is essential in healing.

More later – thanks to all who wrote an email or called.  It meant the world to me. Now, back to walking around the back yard to build up some strength.

(Did I mention OUCH???)

Completely Stumped

It is unnerving to know you have cancer.  In this short period of finding out, wondering when it started, how it started, did I do something to cause it, my mind keeping running around these thoughts – (My doctor said it was just luck when I asked him.) In looking for an answer, I don’t think of what is really scaring me – the unknown.

I’ve had a lot of experience with a tumultuous life – something always told me that my life was going to be a bumpy ride.  Not because I was mistreated, only because I feel and see things that I just don’t understand about human suffering, wants and needs. Always wanted to know why.

I remember, as a child rooting for the Indians on television and always being disappointed when they died.  I read books a lot – my Mom called me, Always has her nose-in-a-book.   Why?  I love learning about imaginary places – going beyond that farmhouse on Kaolin Road.  Ray Bradbury gave me so many hours of traveling to different worlds – my favorite:  Dark they were and golden-eyed – Mars expedition to find missing previous expeditions. – and they found the Martians – the planet made the previous expeditions into its Martians – and it was not a bad thing.  Or my other story, the lonely dinosaur hears a call from leagues below the sea – he travels every so slowly to answer the call – someone like him exists!  When he gets to call, it is a lighthouse with a bellowing horn to warn ships.  The way Bradbury wrote, you became the lonely beast.  What a writer!

But I ramble – so bring on the coffee.  Maybe I should have wanted until after coffee to write this, but hey, time is a tickin’ on this life.

Updates

For the lightning speed at which this cancer approached me, waiting on test results, minutes of terror, all that has happened has immediately come to a crawl.

Doctor, hospital, check.  My surgery date is set for Wednesday, August 9 – I have my warriors ready to help us.  Two brave women who know me so well are going to be with me – and only true friends would hold your hair while you puke.  (I hope I don’t scare them away.)  Or even worse, telling me I have to get out of bed and move around (when the baby in me is huddled under the sheets.) Anyone who has ever tried to wake me up in the morning has seen that other Janice…shiver.  Don’t envy them.

The more promising news is that the CT scan showed no advances or traveling by the cancer – it is highly aggressive, but I hope we caught it in time.  My doctor was very much talking cure – he said if we had to have the “other” talk, we would, but not in this case right now.  So I’m gearing up, ready to get this thing out of me and recover.

And there better be chocolate ice cream somewhere in this battle.

A day

I had a surreal day – the doctor who found my cancer called me to see how things were going.  She had read the updates on my file.  She wanted to wish me well and she gave me her number if I had any questions.  The staff at Kaiser has been exceptional.  They know you are nervous and scared and they help you through it.

This is all bewildering, but I’m getting used to it.  I watched 2014 Godzilla tonight.  I love Godzilla – always have.  Now to bed.  It was great talking to people today on the phone – I still don’t know what to say.

Right now, , like Godzilla in the movie, I feel like getting all blue, raining some blue fire at something and then growling until people’s ears hurt.  Then I can have chocolate ice cream.

Another day.

Did I say, “plans?”

The hospital called back and offered to do the CT scan.  the were in touch with the doctor.  Back to the hospital.  Shoveled large amounts of money across the table – and waited.  And waited.

Then, needle in the arm – a big thumping noise machine with me sliding back in and out – more thumping, weird sensations of the dye (did I pee my pants?  no, it just feels that way.)  Really nice technicians and nurses.  We were meeting the doctor for the results at 4 p.m. – so instead of going home again, we hung out at the mall.  Yes, Janice inside a mall.  So much has changed – I rushed to the Body Shop for some patchouli – they don’t sell it anymore…Geesh.  It was surreal sitting and watching people walk by and my mind is whirling – I have cancer.  I didn’t even go to Godiva’s for a sample – probably not allowed anymore.

We went over the doctor’s office.  He saw us and had the CT scan results.  No other tumors or spots on other organs – looks like the surgery is a go on August 9th.  Now for some chocolate ice cream.  At least now we know the radical approach has a good chance of working.

More tomorrow.

Best made plans of mice and men

After the botched visit on Friday to Radiology – I needed a panel of blood tests, a chest xray. EKG and a CT scan.  CT scans require that the surgical labs take place first – and with fasting – by the time they received the labs, it was too late to start the CT scan.  Nothing after 5 p.m.  I did the labs, the chest x-ray and the EKG.

So today, Monday, I go back in for the CT scan – sorry, no orders are on file.  When we cancelled the CT scan on Friday – the order goes away, never to return until the doctor issues another order…who knew that?  The doctor won’t be in the office until later.

So, we came home – called the doctor to get another order on file and ATE a danish and had a cup of coffee.

I was pinning a lot of hope on getting the CT scan.  Oh well,  I imagine this is the first of many stops and starts to this process.

Another Path

At this time, I need to go back to my roots as a writer.  It’s just not practical to call everyone and I don’t have the courage it takes.

Last Thursday, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  This Endometrial cancer is a Grade 3 cancer.  It is an MMMT type of cancer – sometimes called carcinosarcoma.   It is rare and aggressive.

What stage it is, we don’t know yet.

I had some spotting and went to the doctor.  He sent the order for a same-day biopsy. I went to see an oncologist and he told me about the grade of cancer found in the biopsy.  I am having a CT scan tomorrow that should spread more light on what is actually there.

A total hysterectomy with lymph node removal (done by a robot !!) is tentatively planned for August 9, 2017 at Kaiser in South Sacramento.  After that, we shall decide whether further treatment is viable or not.

That’s all I know.  We are still in shock.  Hopefully, we’ll know more after tomorrow.

 

Been a long time

Well, it’s 2017 and I’ve been gone awhile.  Not writing, that is.  Writing used to be a part of me that wouldn’t stop itself.  It poured out of me in my grief, anger and hopelessness.  It was the one thing I could count on to move myself along.

Then, selling our house, moving to Sacramento from Georgia, finding the right place we’d want to call home for the rest of our lives. took a lot of energy and spirit.  I found that writing about it only made events hang around longer, working on my mind.  So many hopes, dreams to look forward to and then having reality smashing a lot of those dreams.  When you move out of California, it’s harder to move back – but I had to – there was no negotiation.

I let go of a lot of “stuff” to get back here.  Stuff that meant something to me, but for travel and the unknown – I had to make a choice.  Sometimes I still look for things and then remember, I gave it away (which is a good thing).

And it all took its toll.  So frustrating looking for a house armed with a budget.  Considering the hidden fees that we could afford was a factor that soon became important.  Great house, good neighborhood – taxes that would bankrupt us with several years.  All bad trials ended when we found the place we are in now.

It’s a wonderful house in a retirement community.  The fees are low (no paying for golf or road work).  It had a great clubhouse with activities, a gym, pools and classes on every subject.  But one casualty, my writing stopped being effortless.  With all the work in moving and setting up, I was eager to get back to writing.  Then Trump happened – the whole election process made me sick of the world.  I was angry, hopeless and grieving, but writing didn’t come easily.  I start and I stutter and get hopeless and no words on the screen.

Maybe I’ll be back soon.  Getting there is the hard part.

It’s here again

It’s been months since I’ve written

Caught up in change, I whirl from one to another

And then I realize

It’s HERE.

The date that you died – 28 years ago

How can this pain be so fresh at a memory’s touch

I can be there in the parking lot when I found out

I can see the cars parked and feel the sun on my face

And I now witness from afar my world caving in

and my knees giving out

and the scream in my throat

Suddenly, witness turns to actor

The sadness sets in – sadness of the lonely vigil

I keep every year that you are gone

It all so selfish – it’s all about my loss

You lost the rest of your life

the what would-have-been scenarios I play in my head

never to be

I’ll have to dig deeper this year

to acknowledge the pain and get through it.

and go on to next year.

 

Never forget

I saw him sitting on the curb
Cardboard sign in hand
Scraggly hair
Poor clothes
Dirty backpack at his side
Broke and Ugly
The sign read

I was in my new Prius
Stopping to get ice cream
From McDonald’s
Celebrating the purchase of a used truck
My husband drove in behind me
And parked

I looked over my shoulder
Thinking how grateful I was
To be able to get ice cream
Whenever I wanted

There was a time when I could not
I had to look along the road
And the trash cans for bottles to turn in for cash
For beans and rice
For my young son and myself

I had so many second, third and fourth chances in life
I made mistakes, but forced myself to get back up,
To get it right, to get it back on a path I could choose
Oh, and I had help, lots of help

So when I asked Mike for some cash
He asked if I was going to give it away
And I said yes.
Together, we walked over to the curb
The man stood up
Cleaned himself off
He was young
And motioned to stay to two dogs in the shade
We talked a bit and he said the Ugly on the sign
Was just an attempt at humor
I stroked the dogs and talked gently to them
They wagged their tails and leaned against me.
We left with this man saying thank you
He said, “You don’t know what it means.”
I thought,

Yes, I did.