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time after time

sometime during the afternoon on labor day, from home, i scheduled a microsoft outlook meeting with my director (my direct boss) and assistant directors for tuesday morning. there are many things to note here: firstly, i am an 8-to-5 kind of gal, not a think about work on weekends/holidays kind of gal. secondly, who schedules random unexpected meetings at 8:30am after a holiday weekend? thirdly, i'm never involved in many meetings, much less scheduling them. anyway, i wanted to make sure they would all be there, so i could announce it in one shot, then choose to divulge this news to others throughout the day at my own pace. i vaguely titled it "Update", and ominously added the note "Personal update. Please let me know if you can be there at 8:30am". this was misread by at least one person as "Personnel update," as though i were about to clearly foreshadow a resignation. (side note: i truly enjoy my job and coworkers, and such a thought is upsetting to me). so, tuesday morning, in my office with these three and my employee, i uncharacteristically cried in front of them and broke the news. they (and, may i add, every colleague i have talked to) were and continue to be super supportive and understanding of me and my future unknown schedule. i am honored and glad to be working with these people.

tuesday afternoon was a breast MRI. it's like a regular MRI (i assume), but worse (also assuming here). the usual MRI tube, with what at first glance looks like a massage table, with the downward face cushion and towel coverings. the MAJOR DIFFERENCE being that there is a square hole in the table, with a lengthwise divider in the middle, creating two rectangular holes for hillary and condi to hang down into. additionally, there is a crosswise beam at the bottom end of the hole(s), perfectly placed to press directly into your internal organs and limit your breathing to near hyperventilation levels. delightful. the technician is lovely, i clamber onto the table, line up the girls, assume the superman position, and prepare to be the best MRI patient there ever was. it's uncomfortable, with a dash of unpleasant. i have been given earplugs, but holy lord why is it so loud and rhythmic and electronic and alien and robotic and LOUD? we can put a man on the moon, but we can't deaden the sound of an MRI. IT'S 2019, PEOPLE. i decide that i am experiencing one of three things: a nuclear submarine attack; a supremely annoying hearing test; or the world's worst EDM party. i survive without ruining the test by the sin of breathing deeply, and without losing full feeling in my arms. win.

wednesday afternoon is our meeting with the breast surgeon, dr. h, who has been guiding us through the past week. based on the mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, and MRI results, she informs us that i have stage 3 breast cancer. invasive ductal carcinoma, to be specific, which is the most common form of breast cancer. the general mass is 9cm. it has also reached an axillary lymph node (under the left arm). it is estrogen receptor positive, progesterone receptor positive, and HER2 negative. this means that the cancer is being fed by estrogen and progesterone, meaning that i can and will receive specific treatment that inhibits my body from creating those hormones. this is good, because hey, two different ways to stop the cancer from growing! unfortunately, this likely means that my ovaries (which produce estrogen, which equals food for my cancer) will be removed during future surgery. also, i will likely go through early (possibly temporary?) menopause during treatment. WOOOOO HOT FLASHES GET READY TO PARTY. so, that's a bunch of info. her general predicted plan is chemo (to shrink the tumor), followed by surgery (likely mastectomy on hillary because of the size of the tumor, possibly on condoleeza depending on some genetic testing results, also likely ovary removal just to subtract more lady bits LET'S JUST DO IT ALL IN BULK SHALL WE?), followed by radiation. maybe more chemo post-surgery too, because why not?

this was rather sad news, as we were obviously hoping for stage 1 or 2. alas. next scheduled appointment was two days later, on friday. we met with the medical oncologist, dr. m, where she met with us and officially discussed The Plan. the current chemo schedule will be adriamycin and cytoxan (AC) every 2 weeks, on thursdays, for a total of 4 treatments. the AC should slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. this is my particular cocktail of the typical chemo drugs that will likely cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, hair loss, mouth sores and weird tastes, and general overall shittiness. HELLO FALL 2019! concurrently, after each of these, the next day (friday), will be an injection of neulasta, which will stimulate the growth of white blood cells, and evidently give me a nice dose of bone and joint pain. fun! all of this will then be followed by taxol once a week for 12 treatments, which should destroy cancer cells when they are actively dividing. as i understand, this will be like the AC drugs, but less terrible? mysteries! so, all of that is a span of five months of chemo treatments, if you've been keeping score.

it should be noted that i have a bone/CT scan scheduled for monday morning, which will show 1) if the rest of my innards seem to be in good shape to handle chemo, and 2) if the cancer has spread farther than the axillary lymph node. i am not going to lie: this is a terrifying prospect that i cannot fully describe nor comprehend, and unless i am mistaken, would essentially bump me into stage 4. NO FUCKING THANK YOU. if this happens, dr. m stated that the current treatment plan is out the window, and i couldn't bear to ask her what the new treatment plan might entail. if you are the praying type... yeah. i would like that to not be my reality. i mean, i would like NONE of this to be my reality. i guess that is always a prayer option as well... hey, go big or go home.

after meeting with dr. m, we were sent out to scheduling, which, oh my lord. for someone who is very protective of her time, i simply have no control over my calendar anymore. chemo training? tuesday morning? yeah, sure. an EKG? let's do that even earlier on tuesday morning? yeah, sure. get a mediport put in on thursday, at an unspecified time? yeah, sure. start the first round of chemo on september 19th? yeah... sure.

in other news, i received a wig prescription. so that's weird.

and now we are all caught up through Week 2 in Cancer Land. Week 3 coming up. let's do this.

Posted on Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 10:30PM by Registered Commentermdog in | CommentsPost a Comment

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