October 30, 2007

First order of business: corrections. Do you think newspaper and magazine editors feel embarrassed when they have to issue corrections?

Obviously, in addition to inheriting my mother’s breast cancer tendencies, and her trick of calling people by the wrong name (often when she was meaning to say my name she’d say “Jackie” and then “Patty”, her sisters’ names, before she finally got to “Julie”.), I’ve also inherited her inability to differentiate between right and left. Thus, in the October 28th post, substitute “right” for “left” in all cases. As someone asked, why would more pain in my left arm make it hard to drive a manual transmission car, unless it were a British model? Admittedly, my Mini Cooper *is* a British model, however, the manufacturers have moved everything into position for American driving (except the bonnet release). At least I was consistent in misidentifying which side I meant . . .

So, corrections aside, I unexpectedly got more news today.

Apparently the company who performs the OncoType DX test (to determine the effectiveness of chemotherapy for my particular type of cancer) somehow received approval to proceed with the test, even though I’d planned on getting the predetermination from the insurance company prior to having it done. After venting to the poor nurse practitioner about the lack of response from her staff, and expressing my displeasure at the test having been run without my approval, we got down to the results of the test.

I do need chemotherapy. It will be four sessions, three weeks apart. Regarding when it starts, I’m still planning on going to the second-opinion appointment today, although I don’t really expect the end results to be any different. I’m pretty sure I’m going to change doctors, because even though it wasn’t the doctor I was unhappy with, the doctor isn’t the one who will actually be administering the chemo, it will be the staff. So it might start as early as this week, or it might start in the next couple of weeks.

I’d sort of gotten used to the idea that I might not need chemo, so I’m having to switch my mindset back to where I started, which was when I assumed I’d be having it. It does solve a little problem I’ve been wrestling with – do I cut and color my hair again, or let it grow out? Now at least I won’t have a skunk stripe to worry about.

Perversely, I’m in a better mood today after finding out I have to go through chemo than I have been the last few days. Either I really needed to vent to someone at the doctor’s office, or just having the uncertainty removed has allowed me to get back to my usual self.

When I thought I might not have to have chemo, I went through a (sometimes bizarre) mix of feelings. First off, there was relief that I was so lucky as to have caught this early, and happiness that I wouldn’t have to go through a really miserable experience. Then there was worry about “what if”: what if there is a spot of cancer that wasn’t in the main part of the breast tissue and was missed by the MRI? What if there was a single cell of cancer that passed through the lymph system? What if I have the genetic markers that predict both breast cancer and ovarian cancer? What if, what if? There was guilt that I was so lucky to have been Stage I and wouldn’t even have chemo when other women in my support group are at Stage III and Stage IV; and guilt about feeling happy for myself (Sue can relate to this!). The two weirdest feelings were: 1. I felt as if having cancer and not having to get chemo meant that I wasn’t really sick – which made me feel as if I were malingering by taking time off work; as if I had gone through an unnecessary surgery; and as if I hadn’t really had cancer. And: 2. I felt a sense of denied entitlement – if I’m going to have cancer, I want to have the full experience – if everyone else is getting chemo, I should get it too!

So maybe my good mood is because I have been pronounced entitled, and am joining the ranks of the “truly sick” ;-}

Isn’t the human brain an amazing thing?


1 Response to “October 30, 2007”

  1. 1 Jean-Christophe
    November 2, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    Dear Julie,

    I’ve been thinking I should take a look at your blog but I didn’t, hopping you would just send a new all@schrodinger.com email announcing you’re just back with us. Now I’m really sad to read your nighmare isn’t over and I don’t know what to say to wish you a great deal of courage and hope. You know my English isn’t in such a good shape so I can find the very right words. So just keep in mind there are people all over the world thinking about you and hoping you will be all right very soon.
    Good luck,


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October 2007

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