Archive for March, 2006

Forbidden Fruits (and Vegetables)

Ah. The good news from last Thursday is that my blood work showed that my immune system was well enough to eat fresh food again. Since Charlie had to miss that appointment, I brought a copy of the results to him and he checked all the numbers out and even he agreed.

So I’ve spent the time since then enjoying salads, fresh salsa at Caliente’s, and fresh, cold, crisp baby carrots (with just a touch of creamy Italian garlic dressing)–tonight’s dinner.

But I’ve learned to appreciate the little things, like baby carrots.

And they haven’t killed me!

(Whenever we’d go out during chemo, I’d kiddingly ask for a salad and Charlie would agree, “Sure, you can have one, but wouldn’t it be embarassing to die from a salad?”)

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Three good choices

Damn!

I was so looking forward to today’s appointment with the surgeon. We’d be one step closer to getting this over with. But noooo. He saw the genetic testing results we brought and said I had three good choices…a lumpectomy, a mastectomy, or a double mastectomy.

Give me a hint doc. Which is the best?

But he’s not picking one. It’s up to me. So, I’ll see a radiologist to discuss radiation options (maybe I won’t need radiation if I have a mastectomy, but just maybe) in the next few days. And then decide.

Charlie and I have pretty much decided a single mastectomy is out of the question. If we’re afraid enough of reoccurrence, it could happen in either breast. So that leaves either the small or extra large options. And when surgery’s concerned, I think I lean to the small, but we’ll talk to the radiologist.

But, the good news is whichever we pick will be a good choice. At least in my surgeon’s opinion.

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Some news

Hmmm, is this good or bad news?

At first glance, it looks like pretty bad news. I mean, a big bold letters that say Positive for a Deleterious Mutation can’t be good. I mean, I did antonyms and know “deleterious” and “good” are pretty much opposites.

But I got the results of my genetic testing and they had that title and it really doesn’t feel like bad news. It’s information about my breast cancer and information is good. It goes a very long way toward explaining why I got cancer in the first place. (Apparently a lot of cancer patients spend a lot of time wondering “why me?” Given my family history, I sorta knew why me. Now there’s no doubt.)

Officially, there’s it’s a germline BRCA2 mutation 2024del5, resulting in premature truncation of the BRCA2 protein at amino acid 599. On average, among those with this mutation, there’s an 84% risk of breast cancer by age 70. Of course, I have a 100% chance…

Okay, so as Charlie says, this says I’m defective, but it’s not like this is any news. And it gives us great information to make decisions with the surgeon tomorrow.

So let’s just assume that this is good news.

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Some good news

Okay, so during my trip to Houston during the last week for the SIGCSE and AP Test Development meetings, I learned that some of those silly songs we learn in elementary school may really make sense. No, I didn’t see an itsy, bitsy spider. INstead, all week, I had the words:

Whenever I feel afraid,
I hold my head up high,
And whistle a happy tune,
And no one ever knows I’m afraid.

No, I wasn’t afraid of Houston (even though the airport is named after a President Bush). But I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that I was well and strong. First it was Charlie, to convince him I was well enough to go in the first place. Then it was everyone else. And durned if I didn’t end up pretending so hard that I was strong enough that I ended up being strong enough. Or, as the song says:

The result of this deception
Is very strange to tell
For when I fool the people I fear
I fool myself as well.

It was a very good trip, but it’s very good to be home.

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Stylish and Fashionable

Okay, so airline pretzels, turbulence, and chemotherapy don’t mix as well as I’d like, but other than a little queasiness, the flight to Houston was fine. Was on-time for the first time all week too! (Being married to a frequent flier means I have all sorts of information at my fingertips. Of course, when I called him after landing, Charlie swore I was still in the air, according to the WWW site he was tracking me on. So he may not know everything.)

The first day of SIGCSE has gone quite well so far. Nice keynote, good sessions, a great chance to catch up with lots of people. I may know 200 to 300 people here.

But the surprising thing is that of all the people I’ve talked to so far, if they didn’t know I was sick, no one suspects anything is wrong with me.

I don’t think it’s that I want pity. But still, I was a bit surprised no one mentioned my hat and asked what happened to my hair. When I asked someone last night why he thought I was in a hat, he said it looked stylish. I think that may be what bothers me about the reaction (or lack thereof) I’ve received here. When you think of me, “stylish” and “fashionable” are not the first words I expect anyone to come up with.

Of course, the good news is that I must be doing pretty durn good. I mean, everyone sees me as plain old Laurie.

And that’s pretty durn nice.

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