Wednesday, February 16, 2011

the incredible lost weekend

Surveillance is a bitch.

Not all my readers are brca chicks/guys so I'll explain. If you are brca+ or high risk, you basically choose between surgeries (to lessen the risk of cancer), sticking your head in the sand (doing nothing) or surveillance (undergoing tests to catch cancer early). I have chosen surveillance for my breasts and surgery for my ovaries. This past month has really put me to the test. I had my mri about a month ago and it came back with a questionable area. So they recommended a mammo to double check and that too had the same questionable area. If I wasn't a freak (I mean mutant) then normal procedure would be to wait and see if that spot still stood out in 6 months. But since I've had bc, and I'm brca+, none of the radiologists were comfortable waiting. So in I went for a biopsy last friday. That in itself sucked. I turned down the valium because I don't like drugs and I don't find the actual mri that frightening. But damn, when that core needle went in, it hurt like a mf. I don't remember the first biopsy hurting, but maybe I have selective memory. They had shot me up with lidocaine, which in itself felt like a bee had stung my breast, but it didn't help much. Does anyone know if valium blocks pain, cuz next time I think I will take it. Some people don't like doing procedures/tests right before the weekend because it drags out the waiting process. For me, the weekend wasn't the problem. I had already made plans to have a fabulous time and it was even better than I imagined.

DW and I packed up the car and made our getaway right after my biopsy ordeal was over. We headed to the channel islands to meet a friend and do some good for the birds. Specifically, weeding nonnative iceplant to help restore a natural environment for the auklet. We figured it would be fun to check out the islands, enjoy nature and good company. It was so much more. The beautiful weather we'd been having lasted throughout the weekend. The nature was way more than we'd dreamed of! Starting with the boat ride to the island where we saw schools of dolphins (at least 50 in a pack) following our wake, arching out of the water in choreographed lines. Get this, our friend has been to the
islands so many times that she tires of the boat slowing down so we can enjoy the show! Not sure I could ever tire of that! Once on the island, we saw many tiny foxes running around, trying to steal food from campers. Sure, this I would tire of but the novelty is cool. I have seen fox before but rarely and never in this abundance. Set up camp quickly then headed to work on "the rock" which required getting into a zodiac and jumping out onto a pier-less rockface as the waves crashed against it. I could have done without that part, but a small price to pay for such an amazing place. Pelicans were cruising the ocean, flying in close formation, reminiscent of the blue angels, swooping up and down without crashing into each other. Cormorants flying around in chaos as kayakers scared them from their nesting sites in the caves. Ahh, the tidal pools! Never have I seen any this spectacular. Of course, I've never been snorkeling or diving so this was a treat for me. Starfish in multiple colors, anemones, urchins and more. Spectacular (did I say that already)! A sea lion playing around, oyster catchers, garibaldi. Damn, it was like being on fantasy island. Oh my gosh, I wish everyone awaiting biopsy results could pass the time like this. Most of the time I did not dwell on the threat of cancer. And when I did, I thought "so what if I got it again, this is so damn beautiful how can I be sad." I have a good life. It may be tough at times but I have been blessed with everything I have witnessed in my life.

Reality sets in on the boat ride back to the mainland. I have a voicemail that I can't open because of lack of coverage. I wonder is it the dr telling me my results? I know it's sunday, but maybe just maybe they know already. No, turns out just a hello from my bro. Monday, I miss a call from the dr, I hold my breath as I wonder is this when I find out if my life has changed? No, I reach the doc only to find out that he has no news. He just wanted to tell me that the path probably won't be in til the end of the week and he has passed my case on to a colleague because he will be out of the office. So I breathe easier the next couple of days - the pressure is off. I am somewhat successful trying to focus on other aspects of my life, such as studying for my first a&p test. My social worker once told me that she is able to push certain things out of her mind so that she can focus on the task at hand. I never thought that I could achieve that, thinker that I am, but I have been able to a little. I think it helps this time, the second time around, that I have other things to focus on. I have been running around getting all my pre-employment stuff in order: drug test, physical, tb tests, fingerprints. Yep, I said pre-employment:) I have been trying to study. I'd really like to get an A in this course. It's been distracting lately but I think I can do it. Got another call today, from the substitute doc on my case, right before my test. Do I answer it? I don't want to find out I have cancer half an hour before I have to take my test but I also don't want to wonder the whole time I'm in there, so I pick up the call. Still no answers but he will check again tomorrow and call again with either results or a date when they will have an answer. I have to hand it to kaiser. Although the place is huge and you feel like a number, my docs have been very communicative to me. My pcp called me 3 times one day to discuss the biopsy and make sure everything was on track and I was doing ok. 2 calls from the radiologists already just to let me know that they are still waiting on the pathology. I feel very cared for.

It has been easier the second time around. I don't feel the need to do more research. I have most of the answers. I know my options. I kind of know what to expect. I am experienced. But it has also been harder. Instead of falling into my dw's arms for comfort, I look at her and I feel like an ass. This is hard for her to go through again. She sits in the waiting room with the clangs and zaps of the mri machine echoing throughout the trailer and waits 2 1/2 hours for me to reappear. She anxiously awaits the results of this mri while I tell her to try and not worry. I have a gut feeling that they will find nothing of significance. I can't bear to tell her if it is something worse. She is tired of this and I don't blame her. I may have to rethink what I should do over my summer vacation.


  1. Hi J9- so glad you and Tj came out for the trip. It was great having you there and glad you enjoyed it! Come back anyime-especially the planting trip! Hope you get good news soon-sorry you are going through it again. Love you both


  2. I have my fingers crossed for good news to come your way. And cyber hugs for you and your wife. I think sometimes it's easier to go through something than to sit watch a loved one go through it. I'll be thinking of you both.