Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Lump in the Throat

I apologize for not having posted an update for over a month. My cancer doc wanted me to have a gynecological exam before starting my medication. I went to a new doctor, and his wife, a nurse practitioner, did the exam. She pronounced my uterus fit and healthy, but while examining my left breast (the good one) said. “There’s a lump here.”

Did your heart skip a beat? Did you say bad words? Mine did and me too.

I was already scheduled for a routine mammogram for my tater tot breast, so I had the doc order a test for the left breast, too. I got the results Wednesday: No lump. To make certain, I left mammography, walked down the hall and had an ultrasound. No lump.

Again…part of the “new normal” – living with fear of recurrence. It factors into your life and you begin to question just about everything you used to think and do. But as old “whozitz” said, “The unexamined life ain’t worth living.”

One thing I have been examining for six months was my surprise at getting cancer. The doctors have all (and I have four of them now) told me that the hormone replacement that I took for all those years wasn’t the cause. “HRT doesn’t cause cancer; if a hormone receptive breast tumor does develop though, it will feed it and cause it to grow.”

“But,” I say to myself, “Mom lived to be almost 93; both grandmas lived to their mid-nineties, all without any major health issues. I come from good cancer-free stock.”

Then it dawns on me. I’m also related to men! Daddy died of lung cancer at 69, my brother died of lung cancer at 64. Self-inflicted? Both were smokers since their youths. But as I’m finding out more about cancer, much as we fret and fuss about carcinogens, the majority of cancers are genetic in origin. Now I’m thinking that, in my case, the estrogen that I took for far longer than I should have fed the tumor that arose from a glitch in my DNA. But whence did it cometh?

And from way back in my memory banks, I recall Mama Sugar, my paternal grandma (who, by the way, smoked up until the week she died at 95 years of age) once telling me about her sister, Lillian, who died from a large tumor in her chest that everyone said was a result of her being kicked by a horse when she was a young woman.

Your Tax Dollar at Work

The hospital billed Medicare $40,328 for my use of their radiation equipment. Medicare paid them $38,116. Bob and I paid the balance of $2200. No wonder this country is going broke.

But one of the many blessings I count these days is having my cancer now, before 30 million new folks get dropped into the system!

And remember: Life is filled with lumps.  “….And a lump in the oatmeal, a lump in the throat, and a lump in the breast are not the same lump.  One should learn the difference.”
                        -- M. Dix, Letter to the Editor, Haxtun-Fleming Herald 10-10-01

Love to all,