Thursday, May 13, 2010

showing up

i don't remember anyone telling me "oh, this is bad." i remember the "just a bump in the road," and then the oops, your oncotype score is "higher than we expected." i don't remember the part where they said that even with the lumpectomy and radiation you have a 40% chance of dying unless you do chemo and arimidex. for five years. i guess that part was just a given...

i so don't want to do this any more. i would like to register another complaint.

i have to get dressed up now and go to our school auction. right now--or i'll be late. it's a fun event, and our parents have done a beautiful job--i haven't had to do anything. all i need to do is show up. but showing up is hard... what i would really like to do is curl up on the pink couch here in my office and hide under the fuzzy blanket. maybe a glass of wine when i get there will help.

a bad patient

i hated going to my oncologist yesterday. i hated the waiting room with the tacky lamps and purple accent wall with faux greek artifacts. usually it is filled with people and i am so busy pretending that i am not one of them that i barely noticed the waiting room itself. but yesterday it was the end of the day, and it was just me and a guy whose insurance company was telling him he had to go somewhere else for treatment. just him and me sitting in this horrible gate-to-hell waiting room.

when i saw the doctor, i told her that i hadn't started the arimidex yet and that i didn't want to. she told me that most of her patients did just fine on it--except for the joint aches. i told her that while i was grateful, it did seem to me that doctors minimize the whole chemo experience--which is, in fact, horrible--and that just because her patients seem to do well on arimidex didn't necessarily mean that that was what they actually experienced.

she took took that pretty well, but, as her job is to keep me alive, she tried another tack and rolled out the numbers: the whole oncotype recurrance stats are based on patients already taking arimidex or tamoxifen, and that is because without it, the risk doubles.

then she brought out the big guns: the risk, she pointed out, of "dying of breast cancer." (they don't usually use those words. it's usually, the risk of "a distant recurrance," etc.) my risk would increase to 30-40%.

ok. she made her point. i'll try it.

it's just i was so happy in denial...

Friday, May 7, 2010


i will be glad when my hair gets longer. i have hair now, which is infinitely better than not having hair, but i still look like i am 1) militantly gay or 2) an avant garde artist or 3) a recovering cancer patient. and as cool as options 1 and 2 are, they are not me, leaving me with option 3, which, unfortunately, is me.

i don't want to look like it any more though. (well actually, i don't want to be one any more but denial--while powerful--is not that powerful.) since i am happily in denial most of the day now, it takes me aback when people still stop to tell me nice things about me, or acknowledge something nice i once did. it's hard to know what to say. when i was at my worst, i could say thank you and be truly grateful. now it's like, "really? i still look like i could die any moment?"

maybe we should have a national "anybody could be hit by a bus tomorrow" day where we all tell everybody nice things about them. just in case.

Monday, May 3, 2010

brain chemistry

i stopped taking the anti-depressant i was on in february when the prescription ran out and i had to schedule an appointment with my so-called gp who "wished me luck" with this whole cancer-thing. since scheduling an appointment seemed like an impossible hurdle, they clearly weren't working, so what was the point. at least so went my rationalization. and truly, it did not seem to make any difference. everything was horrible in february--with or without anti-depressants.

so, i went to see a psychiatrist. i wanted to make sure that my avoidance of the arimidex wasn't just because i was depressed. she told me "you are very articulate and make some very logical points" and "could certainly understand why you would make this decision." oh thanks. she didn't think it was depression. i did convince her though, that i am irritable and get teary sometimes (note the muzak and all), so she decided on a "mild depression" diagnosis and a new anti-depressant.

now, i am even happier with my, possibly stupid, decision.

she did ask, though, if i wanted a referral to a therapist. wow, would i be a hypocrite, doing what i do, but saying, "no." so i said, "yes." then she referred me to someone who she thinks i will like, who is also a breast cancer survivor. i don't know how i feel about that. what if she thinks i'm a whiner? i can make it all sound pretty horrible to justify my whining, but what if her experience was worse and she didn't whine? i'm not sure i'm ready to risk losing my internal whining privileges...