Where do I start... At the beginning I suppose but that seems so far back, so I will start with the present and work backwards. Today is another roller coaster day. This morning during a meeting I actually, for a few minutes, forgot about my diagnosis. When I realized that it was like waking up to a splash of cold water. For a few minutes this morning, everything was just like it used to be. And then it wasn't.
Its hard to believe that less than a week ago, I didn't know I have cancer. For those who don't know, here is my story. In August I noticed a tiny pea-sized lump in my left groin. I had my primary care doctor, whom I adore and trust beyond all trust, check it out. She was unconcerned, thinking it was a little cyst & would go away on its own. I realized in late November that it was significantly larger & she said she'd like to check it out again. By the time I could make an appointment to see her, it was mid December. She didn't like how it had grown but still seemed fairly unconcerned. Regardless she wanted me to have a Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) to put our minds at ease. Mine was already not at ease - I knew something wasn't right. Those who know me well know that my family history is a series of cancer landmines. So I've known all my life pretty much that one day I would have cancer. The big question was when. That one has been answered...
The pathologist who did the FNA was awesome - she reminded me of one of the characters on Grey's Anatomy. She said used a teeny tiny needle and a big ass metal handle to remove cells from the tumor four times. It was mildly painful. No I should say more uncomfortable than genuinely painful. She cheerfully told me that my regular doctor would have results in a day or so. That was in between Christmas & New Years so I didn't expect to hear anything quickly. A week later, I still hadn't heard anything so I called my doctor. She said the cells were not what they were expecting, which was a benign cyst, so they had to do some additional stains. That sounded scary. I put it out of my mind.
Thursday morning, January 5 she called me around 8. I missed the call, called her back. She was with patients but called me pretty quickly. What she told me was that there were sarcoma cells in the tissue they sampled. She said a sarcoma is a muscle tumor & I needed to see an Orthopedic Oncologist next. The term oncologist threw me so I asked it was cancer. Her response "most likely."
To be perfectly honest my first thought was, damn, this is inconvenient. I asked her how fast I needed to do anything about it & she told me, "Judy, you need to put other things aside and get this taken care of." I think that was the wake up call I needed. It gave me perspective. She also ordered a CT scan for the following day to ensure there weren't any other tumors in my pelvis, abdomen & chest. That, I learned early yesterday morning, came back clear. Small victory #1.
Telling Kendall was difficult - especially since I had to do it over the phone - I couldn't hold news like that until I saw him. Thats not how I'm wired. But our partnership is so strong, we will fight this as a team like we do all the other obstacles in our lives. Stupid cancer picked the wrong person to pick on this time!
Yesterday Kendall & I met with the Orthopedic Oncologist. A week ago I had never heard of that sub-specialty. Vanderbilt is an incredible place. Next week I will have a PET scan there that will, if all the powers of hope and prayer work, find the primary tumor that is causing the inflammation in my lymph node. There is no doubt that this period we are in now, the period of knowing a little but not a lot, is difficult. I find myself quickly saying that not knowing is the hardest part. But is it? I don't have the perspective to answer that yet.
Last night, we told the girls that Mommy is going to have an operation to remove a yucky spot from her leg. We told them everything will be fine; I hope we told them the truth - that above all is important to me. Emilia was predictably quiet. She put down her fork & looked deep into my eyes like she does. She was looking for assurance that her mom is going to be okay. She must've found that because she pretty quickly picked up her fork & went back to eating. Eriana was more curious. Can I see it, can I touch it? How will they take it out? That will hurt, she said! She wanted to know if I am going to stay in the hospital and for how long and if she can come & see me. I wanted to say - I have all the same questions baby and none of the answers.
This morning I told my "work husband". That didn't go so well... Bob is the opposite of Kendall on the emotional scale. Kendall is all logic, data, and reason. Bob is all emotion. Its a very strange and surreal feeling to tell someone, "I have cancer." I told my boss this morning too. And my team. I don't really want to tell people because sympathy isn't something I do well with. On the other hand, I do want to tell people because I don't want them to wonder what is going on with me. Soon, everyone at work will know and this phase will be over.
We haven't told my parents yet. I hate the thought of putting my poor Dad back thru what he endured with my Mom years ago. He doesn't deserve that. I feel the need to protect him as long as I can - until I have enough information to put his mind at ease. I just hope that day comes before I end up just blurting it out one day on the phone!
So now I'm setting about the task of keeping myself busy - hoping for more of those wonderful moments like this morning where I forgot, just for a little while, about this beast. JAM's Jams may be kicked into full gear as cooking and baking are such wonderful forms of therapy for me. All my friends and neighbors may get sick of being given my various creations. Last night we made cranberry orange muffins - they were pretty delicious! Kids didn't like them because they weren't sweet enough. But they were sure popular at work. I think today I might create some peanut butter chocolate muffins. And Emilia has been dying to make beignets so I'm gearing up for us to do that this weekend.
From every challenge comes an opportunity. And I fully intend to capitalize on every single one that arises from this one!!!