Monday, July 20, 2009

cranial prosthesis

The cancer doctor has put the chemo decision in my lap. He did, however, point me toward some research, by giving me some websites that they use. He also gave me some factors to use in my search. Not only do we consider the stage, type, and group of the cancer (small, invasive, and mean, respectively) but also some biological markers that more specifically define my problem. After following flowcharts and diagrams in three sources, the decision is made for me. I need chemo.

Then I researched the specific chemicals the doctor named, and the side effects to expect. Some of the scary ones I had heard about, like heart and immune system impacts, are not there. The nausea is expected, but they counter that as best as they can with drugs given with the chemicals. Four IV infusions given three weeks apart doesn't sound too bad.

The unavoidable side effect is hair loss. I have a (refillable) prescription for a cranial prosthesis. Yes, that is doctor-speak for a wig. Why use one syllable when you can bill for six? Small price to pay, though. Hair grows back, and life goes on.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Tadpole

The Tadpole-sized object that showed up in my routine mammogram turned out to be early breast cancer. The biopsy the next week showed that it was small but mean, so a week later I had a mastectomy. The surgery is minor if they don't have to take your armpit or do reconstruction, and I went home the next day, last Friday. Didn't even need pain meds. The doctor found lots of fluffy fat which he rearranged very artfully, so I even have cleavage.

Thirty years of mammograms have finally paid off. All this talk about self-examination is hooey without the mammo. I've been feeling around for a marble or a ping-pong ball, and no one could have felt the tadpole, even if they knew better and knew where to look.

Next week the drains and the staples will come out. I'll also meet soon with the cancer doc to plan a future course of action. After he reads the tea leaves, I'm expecting chemo. Having a little breast cancer is like being a little bit pregnant, you still have to deal with it. It's too soon to choose a wig, but I may go with Cher or Whoopie. You can vote.