Cancer & the Domino Effect
A cancer diagnosis sets off a domino effect like none other.
In my case (if I don’t count my mother’s diagnosis), the first domino toppled on Easter 2010.
My cancer domino effect was set in motion.
Easter was when the chest pain started.
Chest pain led to wait and see.
Wait and see turned into wrong assumption of a “heart attack,” which in turn led to an ER visit.
ER visit led to an EKG (all clear) followed by a CT-scan.
Scan resulted in the accidental mass sighting. (Why do they call it a mass?)
Mass sighting followed by a diagnostic mammogram marked as urgent, followed by an ultrasound.
Mass sighting confirmed.
Next, initial meeting with surgeon number one to talk things over.
Mass sighting deemed highly suspicious.
Things were set in motion. So much to do.
An ultrasound needle core biopsy was ordered.
That wasn’t so bad.
A different doctor called and said the words, You have a cancer. (More on that a**hole later)
Disbelief and a feeling of disconnect.
Fear and anger.
Initial meeting with oncologist the very next day.
Genetic testing now required due to family history.
Consulted with plastic surgeon to “get our ducks in a row.”
Results came back – positive for BRCA2 deleterious mutation.
My genes were tainted.
Plans finalized for a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction.
Dear Hubby and I established secret code for when I woke up to be our signal for clear lymph nodes.
June 2, bilateral mastectomy day with immediate reconstruction.
Woke up (thank God!)
No secret code needed.
Lymph nodes not clear. I’m screwed.
Chemo required. Shit.
Considerable ranting and raving (by me, of course).
Expanders filled, how many times – who can remember?
Reluctantly attended chemo class to prepare for something you cannot prepare for.
Feeling defiant and refused to shave my hair off.
July – chemo began, as did side effects.
Metallic taste, neuropathy, fatigue, flushing, insomnia, mouth sores.
Did I mention fatigue?
I was “lucky.”
Didn’t feel lucky.
What happened to the old me?
Hair fell out.
But not all of it!
Aha! I was right!
Received a certificate.
Are you kidding me?
Didn’t feel like celebrating.
Tore it up.
Started picking up the pieces of my life.
Shaved off remaining hair strands.
Who’s that in the mirror?
Expanders out, implants in.
A new bosom. I didn’t want a new one.
Miss my old one.
More surgery recommended.
More body parts must go. WTF.
Hysterectomy and BSO.
Then nipple reconstruction.
Done. With the physical parts anyway.
(Some scars no one sees.)
Relief, but no euphoria.
Good enough was/is just that, good enough.
Moving forward to new normal. Stupid term.
What’s that anyway?
Life goes on.
And that’s a good thing.
Here I am.
More worn, still adapting, perhaps (but probably not) wiser – certainly not better.
No way. Not better.
Hormone therapy begins.
Little white pills. Every day.
For how long?
Hard to say.
They suck too.
One day at a time.
That’s all we have anyway.
Yes, cancer and the domino effect.
How has cancer, or another life event, created a domino effect in your life?