Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Your Membership has been Approved

I don't want to belong to any club that would have someone like me as a member. Groucho Marx in a speech to the Friar's Club

Cancer. My new four letter word with six letters. Cancer. I have cancer. I used to be one of them. Now I am one of them.

How did this happen? I do yoga. I drink green tea and soy milk and carrot juice. I breast fed both my boys and one husband. I have never compromised my body with drugs or alcohol or tobacco. Ok, so I smoked pot once, early in high school. It made me cry like a baby and my hair and breath stank. I was cured. Ok so at an 8th grade slumber party I smoked a pack of cigarettes and drank little airline bottles of vodka. I vomited all the next morning, looked like hell, and was cured completely of the curiosity to smoke and binge drink. Well except for that one time many decades later when I discovered that 2 gin martini's with pt. reyes blue cheese olives and a homemade shrimp cocktail while listening to Diana Krall makes me wilde, I mean wild.

I read self help books. I am a spiritual person. A positive person. I am downright cheerful and helpful and kind and generous.

I eat my vegetables. I have a juicer. I like sprouts and wheat berry bread and tofu. I take my vitamins.

How or why did this happen to me? I spent a couple of minutes puzzled by that but very quickly let it go. That's damn good for a person who regularly engages in psycho analysis on myself, everyone in my orbit, and every aspect of my life. What is the deeper meaning??????

I let it go. Something helped me let it go. Just like that. It was pointless. It is what it is. I am already there.

I have cancer.

I consider myself a Christian with Buddhist and Zen sensibilities. "Things being as they are, how shall I proceed?"

Accept it. Embrace It. Deal with it. Get quiet and wait for direction. It came. I have to say, I have been absolutely astounded and proud of my response to the news of this. I didn't realize that my faith, which for many years had taken a real beating, was so strong and resilient. I will get back to you on the faith issue after my hair has fallen out and I am worshiping the porcelain altar.

I don't know why this is happening. I am trusting though that this is where I'm supposed to be.

Let me give you a little breast cancer 101, ok?

This is from the American Cancer Society, five things to tell your friends about breast cancer.

Hello friends.


1. All women (and sometimes men) can get breast cancer, even those who have no family history of the disease. That's me.

2. The two most important risk factors are being a woman and growing older. Damn I hate that part, not the woman part, the getting older part.

3. Women diagnosed early have a high chance of surviving it. Getting a mammogram is the best thing you can do to help find breast cancer early. None of my mammograms or pap smears ever came back with any problem whatsoever.

4. You can reduce your risk of breast cancer by exercising, keeping a healthy weight, and limiting alcohol. Oops.

5. More women than ever are surviving breast cancer. I plan on being one of them.

Can I just emphasize again that doing self exams and looking at your breasts to know what your normal is, is very important. Lobular carcinoma is not the typical pebble or walnut feel to it. It is more of a thickening, and a slight puckering in the breast.

Here's what I know about my cancer so far. It's called lobular carcinoma. The most common breast cancer is called ductal, about 90% of woman have this type. Lobular is only 5 to 10% of those diagnosed.

I will find out more when I meet with my oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating patients with cancer.

When I first found out, I was so afraid the cancer would define me. I don't want that to happen. I went into my jewelry box and pulled out one of my oldest most favorite pieces. It's a leather wrist band with little flowers and my name burned into it that I've had since I was a teenager. It is vintage 70's and very cool. I put it on. There. There I am. Debbie. That's my name. There I am.

It doesn't say cancer.

Gotta go. Ordering myself a necklace that says "chemo sucks."

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