Monday, May 23, 2016

To Biopsy Or Not?

There was a quiet little voice inside my head warning me against having a biopsy.  When the day came to sign the consent, I asked the radiologist if it wouldn't be more prudent to have the surgeon excise the entire mass rather than breaching an otherwise encapsulated tumor. Wouldn't that potentially turn a non-invasive carcinoma into one that is invasive? She gave me a nasty look and a terse response, "That is bad medicine. You don't want a surgeon mucking around in there without knowing what he is dealing with. Besides, your tumor is already invasive."

Already invasive?  That isn't what I was previously told. Really?

Back into the fog. I couldn't think. I could barely breathe. Heart rate increased. Blood pressure shot through the roof. And the clock was ticking. She wasn't about to let me keep her waiting any longer. So she performed the first biopsy. Anesthetic didn't work, so she reprimanded me for not holding perfectly still. She never got the second biopsy. When the third and largest mass was biopsied, the tumor was essentially split in half by the procedure. Tension was released like the snap of a thick rubber band. Half of the tissue actually shifted toward my underarm. My fears were actualized. An intact tumor was ruptured by the core biopsy and cancer cells were likely released into the surrounding tissue.  I broke my own resolution and went home to see what Dr. Google had to say about it. Sure enough, the research I found confirmed my suspicions. The John Wayne Cancer Institute offered this bit of information for my consideration.

Now I felt that there was no turning back from surgery.

Lesson learned: Again, follow your gut instincts. Don't be bullied by condescending doctors.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

First Visit To Tansey Center

Finally, the day came to visit the team who would manage my case. I thought it would be a relief to formulate a battle plan and move forward with treatment. Instead, my blood pressure shot through the roof and I could barely fill out the intake forms because my hands were shaking. I was escorted into an interior "lobby" lined with lockers and changing rooms. Women in luxurious, white spa robes were seated on row after row of sofas. They chatted or read magazines, matter-of-factly, until the attending nurse called them in. It was surreal. My first instinct was to run the other direction. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Something was not right. 

I  remembered having just such an uneasy feeling before, when my husband and I prayed outside of an abortion clinic. I was distinctly aware of an intense spiritual battle going on behind the scenes. On another occasion, during the birth of my 4th son, that creepy sensation recurred. We had moved from Louisiana to Maryland during the last trimester of pregnancy, so I went to the doctor and hospital "assigned" by my insurance company. The childbirth experience was unlike any other. Nurses were bickering with each other, instruments were dropped on the ground- then returned to the tray in spite of the violated sterile field. Everything seemed to be going wrong; and I knew there was something seriously off.  It wasn't until we settled in to our new home that we found out the hospital also performed abortions on site. Again, a spiritual battle of epic proportions was surrounding labor and delivery. How could there not be, if they bring new life into one room, and end new life across the hall?

This Cancer Center felt like death. Not a holy, well prepared death. But a very unholy, evil manifestation of the culture of death.  I couldn't breathe.

Lesson Learned: Follow your gut instincts.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Science Without ConSCIENCE

Just because they can:
Scientist create glow in the dark pigs by injecting the DNA from jellyfish into pig embryos. 
Interesting? Amusing? How about this one:
Of course they are. Are we surprised? Appalled? Apathetic? Where do you think all this is leading? 
Posthumansim, Transhumanism- call it anything you like. I call it testing God's unfathomable mercy. Lord help us. Justice is on the horizon.
"You have to speak to the world about His great mercy and prepare the world for the Second Coming of Him who will come, not as a merciful Savior, but as a just Judge. Oh how terrible is that day! Determined is the day of justice, the day of divine wrath. The angels tremble before it. Speak to souls about this great mercy while it is still the time for granting mercy." (Diary of Sr. Faustina 635).

"Conscience- from Latin conscientia "knowledge within oneself, sense of right, a moral sense""

'Bout To Get Real

Nothing makes a cancer diagnosis hit home faster than the talk you need to have with your kids. So many different personalities- each with their own needs, processing in their own way. I was fortunate to have most of these talks in person- one on one. It is so much easier to gauge the conversation when you can see facial expressions.  Not so easy with the out-of-towners, when the conversation happens over the phone. Reactions ranged from blank faced shock to full-fledged tears, from empathetic hugs to distant "I-can't-handle-this" silence. Everyone dealing with the news according to their own temperament. So much love wanted to pour out of my heart in an effort to console each child. But, unfortunately, that maternal instinct didn't do much for my poor husband. He was fighting his own battle. He wanted desperately to protect us all from the foreseeable suffering- but felt helpless. He needed me, and I wasn't mentally accessible. He needed another man to help him wrap his mind around the events to come. Someone who had already experienced dealing with mastectomy issues, including a basket-case of a wife. Dr. Google wasn't cutting it for him. 

Lesson Learned: Love intentionally, everyday. It's important to fill everyone's emotional tank for those days when you can do nothing more than make withdrawals.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Nightmare Continues

After the horrid mammogram experience, I was in a panic to follow up with a surgeon. I could think of nothing else until that tumor could be excised. Since July kicked off with a holiday weekend, and the recommended surgeon was on vacation, appointments were difficult to schedule. I was given the grace of time, and squandered it on useless anxiety. I made the decision NOT to Google "Breast Cancer," because I "already knew" what my choices were. I couldn't see making myself even more nervous by researching survival rates. "Miss Know It All" had a lot to lose by making such a foolish decision. 

Lesson Learned:
Do your research. There are alternatives to the conventional "Cut, Burn, and Poison" treatment for cancer. Pray about it. Educate yourself. It is called "informed" consent for a reason. And don't expect the doctors to provide the information. You'd be surprised how limited their knowledge can be, in many cases.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Since You Asked….

For those who have been asking about the fairly recent turn around in my attitude and my physical appearance, here it is in a nutshell:

  • Yes, I had the surgery. 
  • No, I would NOT do it over again if given the opportunity. 
  • Yes, I dropped a good bit of weight. 
  • No, it was not on purpose. 
  • Yes, it is a healthier weight (same that I weighed at age 24- if it was a healthy weight then, it is certainly a healthy weight for me now). 
  • No, it was not due to the treatment protocol (which, by the way, I declined). 
  • Yes, I am eating a plant based diet (85-95%).
  • No, I haven't totally given up animal protein. (You could call me a "flexitarian")
  • Yes, I am working out more often.
  • No, still not as often as I should.
  • Yes, Medishare paid for everything once I met the deducible. 
  • No, I am not seeing an oncologist anymore. 
  • Yes, I am planning to have a doctor monitor my health. *I just need to find one who will order the tests I need, without trying to coerce me into a treatment that is more life threatening than the original cancer. 
  • No, I am actually not particularly worried about recurrence.
  • Yes, I feel fantastic.