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Cancer & the Domino Effect

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.

More tears.



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.”

More waiting.

Results came back – positive for BRCA2 deleterious mutation.

My genes were tainted.

Not surprised.

More appointments.

More decisions.

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.


More fear.

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.

More fear.

Considerable ranting and raving (by me, of course).


Reconstruction continued.

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?

More fatigue.

No nausea.

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!

Nearly bald.

Chemo ended.

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.

Completely bald.

Who’s that in the mirror?

Another surgery.

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.

More healing.

Follow ups.


More healing.

Done. With the physical parts anyway.

(Some scars no one sees.)

Relief, but no euphoria.


Good enough.

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.

Featured image above & modified below from Marco Verch

How has cancer, or another life event, created a domino effect in your life?

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Cancer & the Domino Effect #cancer #breastcancer #health #womenshealth #illness

Kristie L Konsoer

Thursday 22nd of July 2021

I like how you wrote this where each line represents a domino. Too many dominoes, yet effectively crafted.


Thursday 22nd of July 2021

Kristie, Thank you. Yes, too many dominoes. You've had a few too many of your own topple.

Linda Boberg

Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

One of your best posts! I'm going to write down my domino things. Very different from yours EXCEPT that it started with cancer. Thank you.

Linda Catanzaro Boberg

Wednesday 7th of July 2021

@Nancy, I haven't written them down per se. I have a spreadsheet I keep of medical procedures/visits so I can keep track of things. My dominos are falling outside of cancer lines ... Afib, for instance.


Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

Linda, Well, thank you. Glad you liked it. It's an insightful writing exercise to write down your particular dominoes, so I encourage you (and others) to do it.


Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

Another great post Nancy. As always you are spot on and everything is relateable.


Wednesday 3rd of April 2019

Pat, Thank you so much.


Sunday 22nd of April 2012

Like so many others, I can really identify with this. Am in the 'relief but no euphoria' phase just after active treatment, figuring out how to get on with living while waiting to see where the dominoes fall. Not easy, as you well know. Thanks for this!


Sunday 22nd of April 2012

Liz, I'm sorry you identify so well. There is a lot to figure out in the 'get on with living' stage isn't there? Thanks for your comment.


Monday 16th of April 2012

Love this! Well done, Nancy.


Monday 16th of April 2012

Nancy, Thank you!

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