Saturday, March 19, 2016
Monday Inspiration: I'm Not Pleased With You, Larry the Lump (Cancer Diaries)
Since you were diagnosed at Stage Three last August, I have tried to look on you, not as a malignant creature, but as some of my own cells that are confused and disaffected. Good cells gone bad, you might say.
But there's definitely a mean side to you. Like the fact that you are a species that doesn't always or readily show up on a mammogram, so I went through all those uncomfortable boob-flattening mammograms, year after year, just so that I could feel safe from the likes of you. I actually felt I was taking care of myself, going through the necessary tests that would sound the alarm bells the moment just one tiny cell started to misbehave.
How innocent I was! How mean you are! No doubt you had a good laugh about that, Mr. Meanie.
Even my own doctor dismissed my anxieties about pain in the breast with the comment: "Oh, your mammogram was clear, so there's nothing to worry about."
It took a breast scan and a biopsy to decide just what you were. And MRI tests to keep track of you.
It's cold comfort to hear that if a professional didn't know this, it doesn't seem so dumb that I didn't know. Invasive lobular carcinomas can be difficult to diagnose as they are generally symptom free or have few symptoms, are difficult to feel and don't show any changes in breast shape until they've grown big and strong. Even when they can be felt, they don't necessarily show on a mammogram. They account for about 15 per cent of all breast cancers. Read more here.
Apparently Larry had been around for up to six years before being detected. That was the first nasty trick.
The second was the side effects in response to the drug I began to take to shrink him. Larry did not enjoy being on a diet (he has estrogen receptors and the drug blocked his daily intake so he was starving and even more mean.) This left me feeling more fatigued than before the diagnosis, with symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, memory lapses, occasional depression, etc.
But it seemed it was all going to be worth it. Larry had shrunk by about 70 per cent and it looked like I could do a lumpectomy, a much less radical surgery than a mastectomy or the removal of the whole breast.
That's where another mean trick came in - as he shrank, Larry broke into several smaller pieces, little Larrys, I guess you'd call them.
But they inhabit the same space that the large tumor did, and the odds of them all being removed, along with all possible cancerous tissue, plummeted.
So it's a mastectomy now.
That means an eviction for you, Larry.
No more warm and cozy nest.
I suppose, in a grim way, I have the last laugh.