AS a breast cancer survivor I placed the memory behind myself but 2 times per year. Every 6 months I return for a breast MRI or MRI. With the exception of the mighty pandemic of 2020. I was able to have the MRI scheduled for January 2, 2020. The words “pandemic” “Covid-19” “social distancing” and “masks must be worn at all times” were not in the normal vocabularies until early March 2020. All hell broke loose in the USA when the leader decided the pandemic was a hoax. He lied. Many died. Yet we survived. After getting a vaccine in March 2021 I thought life would return to somewhat normal. Yet I was diagnosed with appendicitis and after 2 stays in the hospital; 1 because of a negative reaction to the antibiotic given to treat. My appendix was removed in May 2021.
Thus, life should return to a new appendix-free normal? Not yet. Pneumonia, my third attempt at, sent me back to my new home away from home. After a hellish 4 day stay (so much more on this possibly…) I arrived home to see a colony of ants-with-wings has set up a shop inside a kitchen wall. Carpenter ants which are actually not in the construction field at all. Are vicious ants which have wings to get around. Less on the Ants and Uncles, more about me, me, me!
The week prior to the most recent I enjoyed a visit with the cancer specialist i visit 2X yearly for an inherited condition called hemochromatosis.
This is a condition where I inherited 2 H63d genes. Instead of receiving a cash award like the rest of the family I was given a lifetime sentence for iron overload. It is basically the opposite of anemia….. I store all the iron I eat, my body creates and unknown outside factors donate. (Ok outside factors do have some role play in the genetic equation, but it does not actually donate iron to me.) Treatment for HH (hereditary hemochromatosis) is simple; phlebotomy. A pint of blood is taken as needed. When originally diagnosed I donated 2X weekly. I cannot begin to describe what my body felt like at the 3rd or 4th week of this treatment. My iron storage was forcefully being evicted from each cell. The removal process was even more hell-ish that that mentioned above moment. Crow bar, mitre saws and ky were introduced into each cell wall to rip the excess iron out. After the 6th or 7th phlebotomy the cell walls did not require any additional use of force. Only the crow bar remained as a subtle reminder of the extreme use of force could and would be used again as needed. After the 4th week y white blood cells were screaming out as loud as they could. Their words were barely a whisper because having been robbed of the plasma (tv of coarse) they became anemic. When anemia is a forced condition and the white blood cells are robbed at the crook end of a large crow bar all the life sustaining protection they were intended to do of every single thing a human body needs….. continue the life of the body it belongs inside???? It hurts, the exhaustion, the pain, the suffering, the blank dismal stare caused by robbing a body of all of it’s lively hoods including the large screen plasma tv awarded to each white blood cell encouraging each to keep up the good work, is GONE. So if anyone should ever ask what it feels like to be treated for iron overload or iron storage disease my response it “it just made me a tad little more tired.” I am deliberately leaving off the installment of a barbaric surgical install of a fistula into my left lower arm. This made blood removal easy after my veins had all collapsed and began hysterically laughing at the crow bar, ky and mitre saw. I choose to leave this entire sordid affair off from this novella on my life. The scar which remains is all I have left to remind me when a crow bar is just not adequate to remove iron from my body.
Before the pneumonia hospital stay, yet after the visit to the cancer doctor I went for the already mentioned MRI which was overdue by six months. I am not mentioning the missed mammogram because at this point the pandemic made me do it……or rather he pandemic made me not schedule them out of fear of leaving my home. Not Catching Covid (a soon to be released motion picture) became my excuse for never leaving my home (but I definitely did not settle within the nest the stupid carpenter ants had unknowingly placed within the walls.) I went for the already mentioned Breast MRI (100% never going to be a motion picture no matter how much cash the studios offer!).
Day 1. Wednesday- visit cancer doctor. Day 2. Thursday- visit the MRI machine. It swallows my boobs into 2 specially designed soft holes within a slender table. Lying on my tummy with boobs placed within the holed designed to cradle each as only designed by a creator of medical devices could. My entire body is whisked into the machine with headphones playing statically charged 70’s music (I personally selected it) and blocking the loud clanging sounds made by this machine. As I lay flat enjoying the static and clangs I enjoy a few moments of silence. No nagging husband, only the pleasant voice of the technician explaining what he loud machine is doing. Then after the whooshing pee-my-pants feeling of the IV gadolinium contrast medium which enhances anything bad which might glow while under the influence of a medical vs real life inference intended here; 6-8 gadolinium 100 proof liquid alcohol was injected into each blood cell of each boob making only the right side glow brightly.
Transcription found on the MRI resonance imaging report, paragraph titled “FINDINGS”
“There is scattered fibroglandular tissue. Mild background parenchymal enhancement. There is a non mass enhancement in the upper right breast, in the 1 o’clock position, mid to anterior 3rd there is a branching linear enhancement this region a 14mm area. Adjacent relatively prominent focus measuring 5mm, anterior to the branching enhancement. Findings are new from previous study.”
In ordinary common language this means the frigging crow bar remaining from my first bout of breast cancer survived unscathed to resume the battle from within…….or a cancerous cell thought removed through a lumpectomy remained where it met, dined with and encouraged other ordinary non-cancerous cells to join it to become a better life altering but not defeating epic battle beginning today.
Then it’s Friday, the day after the bilateral MRI breast scan. Still the day before I entered the hospital with pneumonia. The cancer doctor calls with the news; there is a “non-mass” found from the scan. I want you to have a mammogram and an ultrasound. I’ll schedule the tests as soon as I can. Later I received the can with the appointments. I have only ever heard the voice change from a doctor once before. It was the call a week after a core needled biopsy done during the first cancer in the same exact boob. “The specimen taken shows carcinoma.” As if the words scientifically chosen were supposed to be softer than screaming “YOU HAVE CANCER!!!”
The phone call was short and sweet. I thought silently; “did he just say i have cancer?” He did. It was in ductal carcinoma in situ. Cancer confined to one duct, later removed without a clear margin. Yet the fancy Boston Dana Farmer stated ‘no further treatment’ almost 12 years ago. Thus I silently began the countdown to when the next cancer battle began. I’ll leave the baggage I’ve carried from this to another time. 🚩 Think positively. 👙
What is next? Tomorrow, Monday, I meet the mammogram machine as well as the ultrasound machine and each respective technician. I’ll probably list this when I actually hear the words again.
Hippybabe is a 61 year old believer in good faith, bad genes and a positive spin added on to everything is necessary when dealing with actual daily living of life. From Massachusetts the state with a very high Covid vaccine rate among our smart residents. More pokes equals less covid spread. Still wearing a face mask even during our maskless society has happily tossed all masks away.
“’m smarter than the average bear.” and “Ackkkkkk AAAkkKKK Don’t allow the martians to attack but yes, the solo cancer cell decidedly won over a following of cells recruiting each one by one until there was an overwhelming vote to allow the cancer to return.
Will there be a sequel to the first battle of me vs breast cancer? TBD. Stay tuned and read the blog posts. Unfortunately for me time and surgical appointments move very slowly. It took 8 weeks to have my appendix removed last spring so why not make me wait until New Years Day to announce it is just a little cancer again? The pandemic did it to me. Covid testing specifically to be done prior to any surgical procedure. Everyone is crowding into the surgical departments to have the procedures put off or canceled because of Covid. My day will come. I will wear my battle scar like a seasoned professional this time. Last time I cried when I saw the scar and felt the empty area where tissue had been removed from my breast. I couldn’t understand why or how it happened, especially when it was called stage 0/ non-cancer. The cancer was removed. Yet the surgeon left his calling card on my breast. Every time I looked all I could see was damage. Until I could see I was cancer free. The journey between the two was a journey I had to take only when I was ready to understand how lucky I was to only have cancer which was removed completely from my body.