Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Stellar tumor

As I've been accused especially by my children, I exaggerate. The actual word used to describe my tumor in the pathology report was 'stellate' not 'stellar'. In Gagliano, WSU affixed posters (wish I remembered to steal one) inviting townspeople to our cinema class movies in the monastery courtyard entitled "Cinema Sotto le Stelle" or Movies under the Stars. Stella=star. Lots of stars can be seen up in the mountains with little competing light sources and cloudless skies. Of the Romance languages, Italian strays least from its Latin roots: estrella and etoile meaning star in Spanish and French respectively. Medical language is just full of Latin based language with some Greek thrown in for fun so my Italian can be useful. In my brain fog, I managed this time to get get complete copies of all my pathology reports. Interesting reading, at least to me. A lot of flesh taken out, measured carefully and weighed in exquisite detail. Even a lot taken out just to obtain my three nodes, which explains the sizable divot near my armpit. But the most important was the description of my 'star'. The main mass of it measured 3 cm so it did double in size during that month of scheduling delays (which weren't true delays but business as usual and things went very fast by their standards-these need to be tightened!). One of its star points did abut the margins but worse, it had a moon 2 cm away (not attached as I was led to believe and not seen in my original mammogram and sonogram-did it pop up so fast?) that was .9 cm at its largest dimension wholly contained by some stroke of luck in the sizable flesh strip removed but it was too close to one of the other margins to be considered 'good'. Also how they keep track of whats up, down, left side, right side, etc. was interesting. Each side is carefully stained a different color, I counted 6, so they know where to attack next in the case of 'bad' margins. I just assumed they dumped the whole cube into India Ink to stain it. They took a whole lot more flesh out during my 're-incision' carefully detailed. The area near my tumor looked grossly suspicious for residual carcinoma but microscopically benign, which is what counts. Everything was benign, benign, benign for the 2nd surgery. The original biopsy of my spaghetti strings of flesh was not at all enlightening.
So Day 44 of my stay in Chemoland. Not so bad, I am relieved to say. I did feel crappy during the infusion maybe because I nixed the Ativan this time-I don't like being foggy, and pukey shortly after it was done. I did have a very good infusion nurse this time, I wish I could request her. She stayed with me a lot of the time and we had some good talks. I was able to go to Naomi's game later, in which she played mediocrely but not bad. She has an axe to grind with some of the Dexter girls. Over the many years she's played on travel sports with girls from other districts, she has come to the simplistic conclusion that Dexter girls suck and Chelsea girls are cool as she has many friends in the latter school district. Josh lives in Dexter so occasionally we have suggested that she go there instead to school for a fresh start and this sets her off in a rage, I can't stand Dexter bitches. I will never go there! They are all sluts! The score was very lop-sided even though Coach Steve was very kind by laying off the full court press and keeping Tyler off the floor although she did score her 1000 th point last night with much fanfare complete with the band. One of our players, who usually doesn't get alot of court time went in and promptly scored for the other team but this was forgiven. Naomi noted with too much satisfaction that her chief enemy after the game was seen sobbing in the corner, completely humilated by the result and her own poor game. No sympathy from my friend! I did stay up late with Naomi who was in a good mood even though her boyfriend has dumped her yet again but past history shows that this is not final. She admitted to all the puzzles of the outside world she will have to face and everything is a puzzle. But she at least has reached a point in identifying some of the problems and come up with a solution for her survival in that big outside world independent of 'mom'. It will be a rocky road-even rockier if I don't win my battle with TNBC. The number one terror associated with the diagnosis of cancer is not being around to finish raising ones kids. TNBC is especially challenging as it seems to strike younger (than myself) women whose kids are sometimes very young and to use the word that the popular press uses to describe TNBC is that it is 'lethal'. Of course, this word is misused as in 'lethal heat wave' 'lethal snowstorms' that result just in a small amount of increased deaths but very upsetting to the newly diagnosed TNBC person who casually googles TNBC and sees terms like "very lethal" "Very Deadly" and "not curable by traditional means" meaning sucking up Tamixofen won't do us a lick of good.. I am thankful that if I was fated to have this awful disease that it at least waited for me to be 20 years older than my young 'sisters' and I have read that my course might be more favorable due to my age, but at least I got those 20 years of life in. I want and need more.
I did get an interesting e-mail from my former neighbor Katy this morning. She has a daughter 2 years older than Naomi who has presented her with many challenges. Not to invade either of their privacies but a quote Katy made to describe the situation was especially apt.

I have my very own one of those here. She has me on a bungee-cord apron string. " Mom, I need you. Ah! Get out of my sight. No wait, we can be friends, Ha! Who made you God! Leave me alone." I feel like I am living with someone trying out for a role in "schitzo, the musical" on Broadway.

Such is life of a mother dealing with feelings of conflicting independence and dependence.

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