Thursday, September 27, 2007

More ugly weather

...and they called me back in from the waiting room to have additional pictures taken during my mammogram today. Let me just say, you really don't want to hear them calling your name in those circumstances.

The technician, who was upbeat and chatty, told me I have what look like calcifications on my "good" side. So they're going to want me back for even more pictures in six months.

Bad breast. No cookie.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Perfect storm

I'm having one of my biennial hurricanes of doctor's appointments: Surgeon, screening, oncologist. (This time, it's a mammogram. Next time, it'll be an MRI. Wash, rinse repeat.)

Am I cool with this? Well, I was so anxious about missing an appointment with my surgeon, I showed up one day early. Uhhhh....

Take two, today. I'm sitting in my paper shirt, waiting for the physician's assistant, and reading some crappy magazine called Cure. I'm not sure who the target audience is, but it's full of articles about how to keep from getting breast cancer. (Why did no one tell me?)

I found myself getting emotional, even though the appointment went very smoothly: My breasts look and feel as they should.

I got home, realized I didn't have one of the ingredients I needed to make dinner, and had a mini meltdown. It's not even 9 p.m. now, and I'm so tired I can hardly type this.

And tomorrow? I get to do it again with the mammogram.

Really, I ought to be getting paid for this.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes)"

So here I am, less than a month after saying I would rather poke myself in the eye than attend a breast cancer fundraiser featuring Jill Eikenberry. Yet sitting on the table next to me is a pile of crap I received for participating in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure this morning.

Item: Pink baseball cap with pink ribbon logo outlined in Swarovski crystals, courtesy of the Shane Company.

Item: "Warriors in Pink" tribal pattern scarf, courtesy of Ford Motor Co.

Item: Pink "Survivor" T-shirt, courtesy of various corporate sponsors.

Item: White "Race for the Cure" T-shirt, ditto.

Item: Pink baseball cap with the Komen logo that reads "I am a survivor" across the back.

Items: Pink lip gloss from Shane Company, pink-ribbon shaped emery board, box of "investmints" from Charles Schwab, flimsy plastic flashlight keychain from Dockers, slightly less flimsy "Redwire" jogging headphones from Levi's, two Tyvek Academy of Art bookbags, two pink bathtub ducks, a "Warriors in Pink" temporary tattoo, and one of those cardboard-and-tongue depressor fans that I always associate with funerals.

I have to ask myself, as I eat my Sun Chips (Harvest Cheddar flavor, with the Susan Komen logo, which were tucked into a pink "Race for the Cure" backpack along with the rest of the swag): How much did corporate America spend on this junk?

What if, instead of giving all the survivors a hot pink goodie bag, Energizer and American Airlines and Coldwater Creek and Yoplait and New Balance and Quilted Northern put that money directly into research or services for low-income women?

Nevertheless, I have to confess that I enjoyed myself this morning. The 5K race/walk goes along San Francisco's Embarcadero, from the Ferry Building to Pac Bell Park. It's flat and scenic, and as my daughter and I walked past Claes Oldenburg's giant bow and arrow piercing the buried heart of the city, I felt my spirits lift.

Among the runners and walkers were a number of women wearing the pink (of course) registration number that marked a survivor, and it was affirming and empowering to see all those former chemo and radiation patients looking so good. Some of the walkers still had bald, bandana-covered heads, and I wanted to hug them and tell them it would stop sucking so badly very, very soon.

Then there was the one pink-numbered, pink-hatted lady being pushed in her wheelchair by her husband or partner. I have to admit that, from time to time, I've been guilty of that Schadenfreude you feel when you see someone in the waiting room who is clearly worse off than you are. But it was hard to feel that today -- and far too easy to wonder if it will be me in that wheelchair sometime in the next five years.

I had originally planned to walk with one of my daughter's teachers, also a survivor. She encouraged me when I was in treatment to just hang on and she and I would do the walk together this year. I called her yesterday to arrange a meeting time and place, and she had just returned from her doctor with a diagnosis of phlebitis and orders to stay home with her leg up.

I'm off the hook! I thought to myself.

"... But it means so much to me that you're walking," she said, and I was back on. Oh, well -- I needed the exercise, anyway. And Quilted Northern needs the business.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Just walk away...

(Him, leafing through the mail): "Um, Dr. B----- sent you a flier for a conference on surviving breast cancer. It's all day Saturday, Sept. 29"

"Oh... (glancing briefly at it). Um, I would actually pay good money NOT to have to go to that."


"Yeah, really. I'm already pursuing alternative therapies and exercising and writing about my feelings... I really don't want to have to be lectured about it for a whole day."

"So, I'm guessing you're not interested in going to this fundraiser with Jill Eikenberry either."

"I am SO not interested in going to see Jill Eikenberry. In fact, they would be better off mailing a letter threatening to send Jill Eikenberry to my house unless I give them money."