Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Taking My Lumps

Remnants of well wishes and a speedy recovery: a tree of life from Wayson Choy, a yellow begonia from Emilie Allen, and an orchid from the Chinese Canadian Historical Society. Recently, the orchid started blooming once again after the original petals fell off. The new growth makes me very happy.

I'm back to where I started.

On July 12, 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

On July 12, 2008, I discovered two lumps on my chest. For anyone not looking at a calendar, that was 4 days ago.

I went to my family doctor yesterday. She examined me. One of the lumps is in my left (fake) breast, so she said that it might be scar tissue or something like that. But the other lump, which is like a hard stone, is not near the surgical site, and is about two inches below my clavicle. It's not like other lumps I found before. Anyway, of course I'm freaking out.

So she wanted to get me scheduled for an ultrasound asap, but ultrasound department was booked full until the end of August. Then she had the receptionist try to book with the cancer agency. Unfortunately, the cancer agency officially "discharged" me last month as a patient, and so she was told that they wouldn't see me unless I had another confirmed cancer diagnosis.

I was a little upset by this news. Just a little.

But then at the end of the day, the receptionist called me back and said that she managed to get me an appointment at this one imaging office on Broadway, for August 6th. I looked at my cancer agency chart and was happy to see that I'm going back to the same office that did my original ultrasound last year. I know that sounds like a weird thing to be happy about, but I really liked the radiologist there, and she was also the one who performed my first biopsy. So it makes me feel a little better to know I'll be in good hands.

So then today, when I got home, I got a call from my oncologist (or I guess, former oncologist, since technically I'm no longer her patient) that I've been scheduled for an xray and an appointment with her on Friday! I guess she decided to take a look at me after all! This also makes me feel better. And I'm also having a routine follow-up appointment with the breast cancer surgeon tomorrow. So with some good luck, I'm going to figure out what these lumps are after all!

Yeah, this is weird.

So anyhoo, a lot of people have emailed me, called me, sent me cards, wondering where I've gone in the blogosphere. I told some people who asked that I'm okay; I've told others that I'm not okay. I guess the best way to put it is that I'm shell-shocked.

It's been a little over a year since my diagnosis, since my brother-in-law passed away, since we've been thrown into this downward spiral that cancer can be. Time is a funny thing; I'm often perplexed by its meaning and significance. And now I ask myself more often than I would admit to, how much time do I have left?

When I had my follow-up appointment with my oncologist last month (the appointment at which I was apparently discharged), she talked to me mostly about how to deal with the after-effects of having cancer and going through treatment. She suggested a couple books and that I join some support groups. She said that I would feel like no one would understand.

She said that it wasn't a perfect outcome; I did, after all, have one positive lymph node--and this was after all the chemo and radiation. But it was a pretty good outcome, and everyone was happy about that.

She said that the chance of recurrence within a year of treatment was rare, but it does happen. She said that if something is abnormal, I should demand attention and examination.

Then she said goodbye.

So some days, it's been hard to know how to move on with life. I think people really want things to be normal again, but for me, it's hard to say or know what that is. I see my friends; I play with the kids; I spend time with family.

One day, Emilie, Mike, and Brianna came by to hang out. And it was fun. (I miss you, Em.)...(and yes, that is a NKOTB t-shirt I'm wearing.)

But it's an odd balance--to feel like every moment is precious and threatened, and to just forget the gravity and just LIVE.

And now, as DH said, we've come full circle.

So now I'm left wondering--where to next? I'll let you know.

Some days it sucks; other days it's pretty good, especially when you have this little guy as your guide.


Unknown said...

staring at yr bare legs just makes me think of gay ponies. maybe you can have one shooting rainbows up yr skirt. better yet, put it on the back of one of yr calves and have it pointing towards yr rear.

gay pony's totally going to cum magic cancer-killing juice all over you.


Irene Suico Soriano said...

oh hon-
cadi sez its an inflammation like hers....

Unknown said...

Glad to see you back to posting. I hope you know you aren't a lone. That period after chemo and surgery is horrible. It seems so much easier to rally from chemo to chemo and surgery to surgery, but to rally for the rest of your life is a daunting task.

By the way, I like to call the lumps Fatty Necrosis, like the name of some annoying chubby kid in the neighborhood that I want to kick out of my house, "Go away, Fatty Necrosis! Leave, Fatty! I don't want you here." Well, it certainly makes me feel better to yell at some one/thing (though I never would yell at a kid or call him Fatty).

Hugs, Brandy. Sending you good and happy thoughts while you wait.

Katy said...


I found your blog while looking up resources for breast cancer patients, and thought you might be interested in a woman who's taken a pretty unique path in her own cancer battle. Meg Gaffney is a nurse, and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she decided to skip chemotherapy and radiation, and go right to a bilateral mastectomy. But when her plastic surgeon recommended a skin graft surgery to build up new nipples, she decided to incorporate art into her own personal healing process.

For Meg, that means getting nipples tattooed onto her body instead of the graft surgery, and now -- after months of searching for an artist willing to take on her challenge -- she's about to get the work done!

We're 8 parts into a documentary on Meg, which is featured on I'd love for you to check it out and let me know what you think!

Meg is dynamic, creative, and completely committed to ridding the world of cancer, and her spirit is contagious.

Thanks for your time, and best luck in your own journey!

Katy Widrick
Executive Producer,