“Dear” X-Ray Tech

Just do your job.

“Dear” Becky (aka x-ray tech),

When Lovely Daughter, who is barely 21, visited your fine establishment yesterday to have an ultrasound on her breasts, she did not need your passive aggressive comments. Yes, she is only 21. Yes, we realize it is not “normal” for a 21 year-old to be screened for breast problems (aka CANCER), and yes, we realize she was referred by HORRORS, “a nurse practitioner, not even a doctor,” but shut your pie-hole and do your job.  You didn’t need to consult with a radiologist before administering the ultrasound because you had ORDERS to perform the procedure.  Her healthcare provider ordered it.  Insurance approved it.  Her mom approved it.  Her medical provider was concerned enough that she was finding multiple lumps in Lovely Daughter’s breasts and concerned enough that Lovely Daughter’s mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer that she was being proactive and wanted additional testing to rule out any problems.  You scared and intimidated my child.  You are so lucky Lovely Daughter did not hop off the table to retrieve me because you so do not want to get into a cancer dialogue with me.  My doctors’ estimate cancer was growing in my body for approximately seven years before it was caught, which meant I developed it in my early 30’s.  Seriously girl, do you really believe the stereotype that breast cancer only hits “older” women?  Have you ever heard of early detection?  It is not your place to attempt medical counsel; it’s your place to perform the tests you were directed to perform.  Thank God for every one of you, there are millions of x-ray techs out there who are compassionate, caring, and understanding.

Please ask the director of your facility to send you to sensitivity training.  Oh, and by the way, my daughter-in-law is a nurse practitioner and for years my immediate medical provider was my beloved nurse practitioner.  You really are clueless.  Lastly, my breast cancer was not detected by ultrasound which both an x-ray tech and a radiologist performed.  So, take that.


The Cancer Club

A New Kind of Sisterhood.

In the 70’s and 80’s  sisterhood meant stealing my older sister’s diary and telling my younger sister all the juicy details.  It meant tattling.  It was Barbies.  It was hunting for Easter eggs.  It was building a raft to float a river drainage ditch.

It seems I’ve been placed in a new category of sisterhood that five years ago I didn’t even know existed.  Honestly, I kind of miss the days when ignorance was bliss.

It’s not that I don’t have commonalities with these new sisters.  Chemotherapy.  Radiation.  Pink.  Surgery.  Scars.   Pain.  The list goes on and on.

I notice these new sisters at the grocery store.  At the gas station.  At  doctors’ offices.  We instantaneously  recognize each other, which I don’t understand because my hair has long since grown back.  How do they tell I’m one of them?  Urgh, tell me how do I leave this club?  Can I tell them I don’t really belong in this “exclusive” club? There must have been a mistake.  No one in my family has had cancer.  Seriously, it must have been a fluke.  Let me out of here!

Nope.   They won’t let me leave.  They hug and embrace me (well, if I don’t hug and embrace them first!).  They understand (and help) my fight to raise funds for breast cancer research.   They listen to me when I tell them my aggravation with the American Cancer Society.  We talk about doctors.  We share tips.  We speak in secret code that no one from the “outside” can understand.

We’re always praying that we’re closed to new members.  To put is simply kiddo, we really don’t want you in our club.  However, for me, I think I’m staying.

Acknowledging Cancer

Wanted: words of wisdom

First things first:  this past month I’ve been a busy gal with lots of doctor visits, scans, blood work, blah, blah, and as of yesterday (my last appointment), I’m clean as a whistle!  As my hematologist-oncologist said, my results are “boring”!  It’s hard to believe four years I was just finishing up chemo and starting radiation. . . .

While Better Half and I were in the hotel lobby Monday night, there were two couples sitting at the table next to us.  We saw that painfully familiar sight of a beautiful woman, very pale, wearing an oh-so-familiar hat because she didn’t have an ounce of hair.   We started hearing snippets of the conversation and it became obvious that both women were cancer patients as they were using only words someone familiar with cancer would know.

I’m not a shy person; ask Better Half and my friends.  As we got up to leave, I walked over to the table, crouched at eye level, and said I was so disappointed because four years ago I thought I was the cutest bald woman in the world, but obviously now my title was being relinquished.  I got the shocked, acknowledged look and laugh, and then we talked.  The two couples did not know each other; they had just met at the hotel.  The women both have multiple myeloma.  One traveled from Ohio and the other Alabama.  I felt bad that I “only” had breast cancer.  I told them they both looked beautiful, and we laughed about the joy of not having to shave your legs during chemo.  No plucking those darn hairs that pop up out of nowhere!

My question:  is it wrong for me to “force” myself upon other cancer victims?  I don’t know the Emily Post etiquette on this subject.  I only know that when I first lost my hair a kind woman came up to me (while Better Half was helping me try on hats) and told me how beautiful I looked and assured me my hair would indeed grow back as her’s had.  I was so grateful to her.

Am I being too pushy?  Please give me some sage advice!

Failing of a Body


My body is failing me.  Or maybe it’s that I’m failing my body.  I look back 15 years when I married Better Half and everything was so good, so perfect.  So healthy.  Now I’m an insurance company’s worst nightmare.

Prior to Christmas I joined a gym.  I was working out like a fiend; going to yoga.  Loving it.  I was determined to get me back. I was taking the breast cancer bull by the horn and gonna… something!   Boom—out like a light! Excruciating pain began in my lower back.   Fast forward three weeks later, and I find that the one bad disk I was already dealing with in my neck has magically turned into two bad disks and a lovely bonus:  a third bad disk in the lumbar spine.  Hello God—I’m a member of Gen X, this is ridiculous!

In two weeks I have an appointment with my hematologist-oncologist.  I’m scheduled for two body scans.  I have an appointment with my surgical oncologist.  I’m scheduled for a diagnostic mammogram.  I have an appointment with my neurologist.  I have two physical therapy appointments per week for twelve weeks.  I have an appointment to see my general practitioner.  All but the PT appointments are not local.   I’m tired.  So very tired.

So as I lay here flat on my back typing this depressing message, my message to you is first, I absolutely do not want pity, what I want to tell you is this:  if you enjoy good health, do not take it for granted.  Be grateful, and take care of yourself because someone like me would love to be in your shoes.

(As I was signing off on this post, BH recommended I buy some wine kits in order to increase my stash of wine and champagne—there’s light at the end of the dark tunnel!)

The Big C and Double Fs

Cancer.  Friends.  Family.

Yep, they go hand in hand; at least they do for me.  Lucky me.  You heard me right.  Lucky me.   I can’t imagine going through something so horrific as cancer and not having the love and support of friends and family.  They are what get you through the rough days and encourage you that You Can Beat This.

Even though it’s been four years since my breast cancer diagnosis, my friends and family continue to support not only me, but all the other women (and men) diagnosed with this awful disease.  These dear supporters have so much good karma coming their way.  I’m thankful for each and every one of them.  You know who you.  Please know that my family and I adore and love you.   Here’s wishing each and every one of them (and yourself included) a lovely holiday season and let’s pray 2011 is an amazing year for all.

Peace and good karma.

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