Well shit, that scared me

Oh my goodness, what a day . . . this morning I signed into the Facing Cancer Together twitter account (@cancer2gether) and wrote out a morning tweet. Ultimately it went like this :

Okay Wednesday, be awesome!

But it started out like this:

Okay Wednesday, surprise me!

And then I thought, “well, I just had an MRI so no surprises are necessary.

So I switched it to:

Okay Wednesday, delight me!

And then I thought, “but this isn’t really about me.”

Which is how it ended up at general awesomeness. But I feel somewhat convinced that I beckoned the universe to give me a surprise, and therefore shouldn’t have been at all shocked when the hospital called to arrange a CT scan.

Okay, I had an MRI yesterday. Then today, unexpectedly (without my realizing I’d be sent for one) I was called in for a CT scan. In fact, they called my parents house, so my mom called me, and then I called the hospital. I would have asked the lady at the CT booking when this requisition had been sent in, but she was SO grumpy that I didn’t dare. Instead, I followed up that booking (for tomorrow by the way) with a call to my oncologist’s nurse.

Of course, their first point of contact is always the answering machine. Therefore I left a message along the lines of this:

“Hi, yeah, Catherine here. I’m just wondering whether the CT scan was requested before my MRI or as a result of my MRI. CALL ME BACK, PLEASE.”

Then I tried to work.

Ha!

Tried.

Failed.

Then Zsolt and I went for a walk. We basically said nothing to one another the entire time. I asked Zsolt at one point what he was thinking, and he said, “Nothing really, I’m in a blank space.” So that shows you that he was worried too. Personally, I was thinking: “oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.” And then I started thinking: “If I were to die what would I want to have accomplished?” Which lead me to figure I would want to have a child, if possible, and I would want to publish my fiction novel. That led me to some far-fetched day dreams of crowd-funding to raise money for printing the novel and distribution (apparently I have some traces of business woman inside of me, since even in panic mode I was making this ridiculous plan), and people would probably give because they felt sorry for me and the book would sit on their shelf unread as a memorial to that awesome chick who once was, and maybe is somewhere else beyond whatever we know, but it’d never win a GG, and what the fuck is going on, and oh my God I hope it’s nothing, and holy shit I hope it’s nowhere else in my body . . . etc.

Of course, that reality is always a risk. It’s a risk having had breast cancer. It’s a risk resulting from stopping tamoxifen. IT’S a real life risk. And today I had just the smallest taste of how it would feel to hear more bad news.

The good news: I’ve been living my dream, and don’t hold many regrets. I still WANT to have kids, and WANT to publish my writing, and felt that even when in panic mode. So I’m glad it’s all congruent.

The bad news: This shit can be scary. And it can be real.

Then we came home and I decided to try and be productive. That involved working on a slide show for the local community organization.  Somewhere between deciding on transitions between pictures (fade in, pop up, vortex, flip, conveyor belt, and so on!) the mobile phone rang. It was my doctor’s nurse.

Essentially, she has no idea about this CT scan. No clue! But as for the MRI, here is what she said:

“Your MRI has come back indicating no signs of cancer.”

YES. FUCK YES. HIGH FIVE. WOOOHOO. Oh shit. That was stressful. I need a nap . . .

None of which I said to the nurse. Anyhow, I can therefore assume that this CT scan is just to get a full body impression before I move forward to try and get pregnant, and is not at this moment (and hopefully in no future moment) connected to any sort of recurrence or cancer.

Zsolt and I hugged. I called my mom. But damn it, it was scary. Today brought some awesomeness, but not before delivering a big dose of surprise and panic.

Now I’m on my back porch, and typing this out to you. Hello, how are you doing? The sun is shining after many days of rain, and I have a CT scan tomorrow. Later this month we are going to a cottage . . . and in the meanwhile, my apartment is a compete mess since this is a month were I’m a little out of control, and have therefore lost my ability to tidy.

Life goes on. But geez, does it need to be so dramatic?

Why I ALWAYS dance at weddings

The suitcase has been half unpacked and my purple cocktail dress is draped across the growing pile of clothes on the sofa in our bedroom (I’ve got some beige heels somewhere, but I couldn’t’ tell you where they’ve gone). I have a popped blister on my left foot, and my hair is an unwashed bird’s nest from all that hairspray I tried to use that ultimately did nothing.

This is going to be a very quick post because of all the things that need doing, including lunch being made.

Here is what I want to say.

This past weekend we attended a wedding of a friend and his beautiful wife. These weddings amoungst my friends are fantastic. They are first class celebrations of love, connections and reuniting. I’m so glad to be part of that happiness.

Anyhow, you know how it goes at weddings. The bride and groom have their first dance, and not long after the dance floor becomes deserted as people attend to the bar in order to work up ‘courage’. And that’s all fair enough.

But I have an MRI on Tuesday.

It’s weird to say that. And maybe you don’t see the connection? I have a MRI on Tuesday to make sure there’s no cancer in my body.

And this past Saturday evening, there was an empty dance floor. Do you see the connection yet?

When it comes to weddings, along with all the lovely conversation, dresses, and food – I choose to DANCE. I need to DANCE. Zsolt and I must DANCE.

It’s a strange thing to say, and quite possibly in my head, but I feel like there’s this very thin veil between me and my old high-school friends. It has a whole lot to do with having had cancer, fighting cancer, worrying over cancer.  You know?

When I dance with my husband at weddings, I’m doing it (despite the quality of the music) because I’m alive and capable of moving, because I’m here now and tomorrow holds no promises, and because it makes me so happy to dance and be goofy.

Actually, thinking about this – I’m underestimating the experiences of many of my friends. I know some of them have faced things I’m yet to encounter, and felt things that are just as deeply impacting. Love, loss, life, distance, heart-break, illness, fatigue, divorce, birth, death  . . . Jesus! I just realized that as a group, we’ve seen a lot.

So maybe everyone does get it – and that’s why, by the end of the night, everyone is dancing.

Anyhow, I’ve got to go and make this soup. But all that to say that when it comes to wedding, I’ve got to dance. One the light side it makes me laugh, and looking deeper, it makes me feel alive.

Okay, time for lunch. And maybe a shower to follow!

Tamoxifen, MRI, and Fertility FUN

Okay, here we go. It’s June, baby. And I mean baby.

This morning I spoke with a young lady who works in the local imaging clinic. She was booking me in for a MRI this upcoming Tuesday morning. All I could think of as we talked over my ‘pre-screening’ on the phone was: “I hope I don’t cry again. Oh, and I hope I don’t pass out. Annnd I hope I don’t throw up. AND there better not be cancer.”  Not crying would be a glorious first.

June is huge

(The other stuff all happened the very first time I had an MRI. The situation was simply too overwhelming, but no wonder given the circumstances of diagnosis.)

But it’s a wonderful thing that I’m even having an MRI. The fact is, a woman in my situation – without any family history or any faulty BRCA genes – isn’t generally welcomed to MRI breast screening. But Dr Canada sent in a request, and apparently the requisition went through. It might be because I told them I was kaput with the tamoxifen.

As I said before, it’s June, baby.

What has been an emotional month for the past couple years now has an additional mark of importance. I’m not just getting screened this month, I’m stopping my tamoxifen. I’ve now been on Tamoxifen for 2 years and five months. So, basically 2.5 years. The oncologists recommend 5 years, and that might even be going up to 10 years with some new study recently released.

But I’m not waiting 10 years to try and have a baby. You can just forget that.

It’s so funny. I was saying to my husband, Zsolt, the other day that there are times in my life when I don’t want to be stopped. You know? Like when I want something so much, so badly, and feel that it is so right that it takes on a certain sort of power. I really only ever regret the moments where I didn’t follow my gut. For choices this big, this important – I need to go with what resonates through my being. And it’s saying TRY, DAMN IT, TRY.

I WANT to do this with every single part of my being, and therefore, we are going to do it. We are going to go for a baby.

My oncologist, as I’ve said before, is of two minds in the matter. In one aspect he thinks I should stay on the Tamoxifen. But on the other side of things, he reckons young women actually benefit from getting pregnant in terms of protection from cancer. He is in two minds. I am in one mind. My single mindedness helps this decision feel a little less scary.

The Tamoxifen stops as of June 15th. We then wait three months. And then, we try. That’s all I can do. Try. And I guess give up all dairy products and other food that encourages too much estrogen, since I will be without the Tamoxifen – it’s like the least I can do. And make sure I sweat every day since that also burns off extra estrogens.

So Monday is the MRI. June 27th is the mammogram. I’m stopping Tamoxifen on the 15th. And if the scans come back clean, then onward and upward. Today I also swallowed my nerves and called the fertility clinic for a check-up. More on that some other time.

June is a big month.

Everything will be okay.

I’ll try not to cry.