Ups and Downs

August 19, 2012

Surgery happened.

It was all relatively painless.

AA drove me to the hospital at the crack of dawn (literally). I got all dressed up in my hospital gown.  Dr. S came in and drew lots of to-cut lines on my chest with her purple marker.  (And I said, “We’re gonna get it all today, right?” to which she replied, “Well, I don’t know.  I’m not a sikh.” Thanks, Dr. S, for putting me at ease and making me feel like this operation was worth my time.)  They fed the cold and drowsy humors into my veins.  I dopily reminded AA how much I loved her in case I didn’t wake up.  And then, an hour later… I was coming to, all bandaged up and ready to go home.

I’ve been unable to lift anything for the past 10 days and my left side is fairly tender… sore enough that I can’t wear a seatbelt… but that is about the extent of my ailments. Bandages come off and stitches come out on Monday and then they fill my left tit back up on Tuesday.  The scar on the left guy is prolly gonna be longer than the scar on the right guy as a result of this surgery, but Dr. T-dubs has assured me that I don’t need to worry about the scars as she will fix them when she gives me my real fake boobs.

The ups:  I got the call Thursday morning.  Everything came back clear.  There are currently zero traces of evil cancerous cells anywhere in my body.

The downs: This doesn’t really mean anything.

Yet, anyway.  According to all of my doctors, I’m still in a liminal state that equates some sort of impending cancerous doom if I don’t receive more treatment.

I had a phone consultation with Dr. K this past week.  He is, apparently, the best radiation oncologist in the country.  Dr. S sent him my files after this last surgery and Dr. K would now like to treat me.  Or radiate me, really.  He has a facility in Arizona.  His current hope (the plan as it stands right now) is that I will head out there in the middle of October for 6 weeks worth of radiation.  His office is currently working with My American Cancer Society (they tell me they’re mine every time they email me) to find housing for me during this time.

And I should be thrilled.  Here is this amazing doctor who is going to give me the best and safest radiation treatment I could possibly receive and he’s willing to go the extra mile to make sure I can get it.

But I don’t want it.

I don’t want my skin to turn to shit.  I don’t want burn scarring.  I don’t want to willingly lay underneath some sort of super mega laser beam for 15 minutes a day every day for a month and a half.  Particularly when Dr. K has given me the following stats:

Receiving radiation treatment will decrease my chance of recurrence by only 9%.  It will increase my chance of survival by only 10%.

Dr. K tells me this is huge.  But it sounds like a lot of laser time for very little guarantee that this will do more good than harm.

He also told me it was stupid to worry about cosmetics when length of life-span or survival was at stake.

I had to use my mean voice with him.

This MAN who does not have and never will have breasts has no right to call my fear over uncontrollable, unpredictable changes to my body, my breasts, stupid.  He has zero comprehension of the true weight of this.  And I am emotionally exhausted from defending my position over the importance of cosmetics in an unmarried 30 year old woman to seemingly heartless medical professionals.

They all keep telling me that survival is THE most important thing.

But it isn’t.

My happiness is.

And self-acceptance, peace in my own skin, is a very close second.

And, again… to me… living an extremely long life does not seem so important.  I’d rather live full and hard and burn up in a blaze of glory with limited time rather than live to be 80.  I think if I were to live that long, at a certain point, I would be unable to do everything I love and I would just get bored.  Is there something wrong with me because I feel this way?  Is my view of the value of this life skewed?

I also have to wonder… what about all of these dietary changes I’ve made?  And the medication I will be on for the next 5 years to keep my estrogen shut off?  All of my docs are so concerned about the growth of new and dangerous cancer cells… but if I’m not feeding them with anything?  No sugar.  No estrogen.  (My cancer tested as being estrogen fed.)  Does that increase my chance of survival by 10% already?  Or more?

What if I make even bigger life changes?  Like living by the rules of The Gerson Therapy for the next three years.

Because honestly… visiting some sort of therapy retreat for cancer patients where I do yoga on the beach in Hawaii, meditate, get pumped full of Gerson Therapy juices and emptied out with coffee enemas is the only way I want to fight anymore.


My scans and treatment plans appointment in AZ with Dr. K is on October 17th.  I will go and put myself through all the tests and listen to what he has to say.  But if I still have this uneasy feeling… I might just start fundraising for Gerson Therapy in Hawaii.

Or maybe Bali.

End cancer chapter 14.


2 Responses to “Ups and Downs”

  1. Connie Says:

    Hey Gwen. I’ve been following your blog since you started and I have been sending Love and Light your way since I first heard.

    I felt compelled to comment on this one to, maybe, help you understand where the docs are coming from with regard to life-span vs cosmetics. First of all, I want to say that I think that you were very brave and smart to have a double mastectomy. I can’t imagine how difficult that decision was for you. As for the Docs, I’m just going to say that it’s age speaking in favor of span vs cosmetics. And they are doctors. It’s their job to make sure you stay alive as long as possible. As I get older, I find myself more and more peaceful with my body and I appreciate all it does for me. I look at the imperfections and am more able to accept them as part of who I am. It took me until I was 41 to finally accept my breasts (they were too small and lopsided). And how I look naked is not so important to me anymore. So the docs are coming from a different place in their own lives (and gender) when it comes to treating you. However, as you have stated so elegantly and wonderfully, your happiness and self-acceptance is important to you right now. I know that you will make the best decision for yourself as you have been doing all along. Follow your heart, Dear Gwen, and you will follow the right path.

  2. Deb Says:

    Doctors will only focus on life span and survival rates as that is their job but you are the one who needs to weigh these numbers against what you find acceptable in the way of risk vs benefit. No doctor can know your mind and heart. You DO have a choice in what you chose to do and what you refuse to submit to. Listen to your gut. Whatever you chose, it looks like you have a wonderful support system around you.

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