Sunday, January 9, 2011

You are a lucky woman

Tuesday was the big day – 1:30 and 2:00 appointments with the oncologist and then the radiation oncologist. They work closely together and have adjoining suites in a building about a block from the main hospital.

The amount of information you get from just one cancer doctor can cause you to wilt with overload. After the two docs, I was dragging. Bob (who accompanies me these days for plunges into the health care jungle) practically had to carry me to the hospital for a blood draw after the appointments. (But here’s a tip I learned during the draw: If you have lymph node removal done, never after have blood pressure taken from that arm, nor have a blood draw, nor receive injections, nor....Well, there’s a whole litany of other things not to do: (Women with double mastectomies have blood pressure readings done on either their feet or legs.)

Anyway, I was so boggled that it wasn’t until I was in the car on the way home when I remembered the words of the oncologist. “You are a lucky woman. Your breast cancer is classified T-1A, the one that is the most survivable.” Now that perked me right up!

I still don’t know much more about the upcoming radiation treatments. Apparently I go through a planned simulation of the treatment before I actually start the genuine therapies. For now, all I know is that sessions will start within the month and be Mondays through Fridays for six weeks at the hospital in Show Low, about 30 miles from home.

Part of the wait to begin radiation also involves getting results of a P.E.T. (positron emission tomography) scan ( that I had two days after consulting the docs. In the test, the patient is injected with a radioactive glucose solution and the machine probes down to the body’s very cellular level to determine the presence of cancer or other conditions or diseases. I thought it seemed redundant as everyone is already aware of my cancer, but I think the oncologists want to see if I’m otherwise okay.

The hospital doesn’t have a scanner; it is trucked in once a week by a national medical supply company. In order to schedule the test, I was interviewed on the phone by a woman on the East Coast. At one point she asked, “Are you claustrophobic?”

I dunno. I can ride an elevator without giving it much thought, so I said, “No.” But afterward I started thinking about spending 45 minutes trapped in a tube about the size of a coffin and whether or not I’d freak out. And, of course, the more I dwelt on it, the more panicky I made myself. Finally, I called the oncologist’s office and asked to have a prescription for a sedative or something for the test. He prescribed Ativan – one pill only. And I can see why it was just one…it is wonderfully potent. Taking it about a half hour beforehand turned the scan into a visit to some kind of weird spa: I was completely without cares, covered by a warm blanket, with Bobby just outside of the machine reading to me in his soothing, mellifluous voice. I was in a silver rocket to Nirvana.

Down to earth now – the picture is of the new paint job on the house. (Bob took it yesterday and you can still see snow from our storm of 10 days ago. It’s been so cold so long it hasn’t melted yet.) Anyway, the paint colors don’t show up as vividly as in real life, but are a sandy rose and a sort of brick red…While aesthetically pleasing, they were selected for a more practical reason -- they are the colors of the soil and mud in this part of Arizona. That is to say; they don’t show the dirt. I painted the porch and some of the window trim; Bob did the rest with a small hand sprayer. It took us most of October and November. We didn’t quite get it all done because after a lovely, long Indian summer, the temps plunged to single digits in mid-November!

But at least it was above zero. Ten days ago the temperature here at the house dropped to minus 17 degrees. Yes. This is Arizona and don't mention a word about global warming.

Love to all,



  1. Well, you lucky woman, it was good to hear the news about your survival chances since I plan to grow very, very old with you as my dear, dear friend. The paint looks good. Tell "Bobby" I want to know more about the small hand-held sprayer for when I tackle the garage next spring. Love to you, Jean

  2. You are a brave soul! Have you checked out any natural treatments like diet? check out: -- I think org? My high school friend is in stage 4 swears by this diet. (She has had breast cancer for the last 10 years. She refused any treatment. (I disagree with that. Now in stage 4 she is doing conventional meds.but still doing the diet.) There are other hydro theapy that can be done at home too.

  3. I do like the color of the house! Your winter is as bad as ours! -13 with wind chill today!
    School has been closed the last two days!

    Bob sounds great! Boy, to be read too!

  4. You are indeed a lucky woman. I an sending you all my love and I know you are already surrounded with love from a man so kind he would read to you thru your PET scan! :)
    The house looks great and I loved seeing a picture of it! Thanks for sharing with "us" ! oxoxoxoBarbie

  5. Hi, Aunt Rose, it's Amy (remember me?).

    Barbie sent me your link; hope it's okay to comment (if not, we'll blame Blabs, er, I mean Babs...;>).

    So glad you forewent radiation! Did I miss your status with regard to Tamoxifen? Such a scary drug, but aren't they all? Okay, nuff said...

    I'm not very social-media-savvy, but did want to send some love and well-wishes your way.