Thursday, January 7, 2010

The big 'C'

Actually that 'name' is banned in our house because it's just damn cancer, it doesn't deserve a nickname.

Mags has just past her 5 year anniversary of having breast cancer. This is good because statistically she is now a cancer 'survivor' and the rates of cancer 'survivors' are increasing... however there are no stats for post-5 years but basically once you've had cancer that's pretty much what you are going to die of later on, hopefully not in year 6.
And we get rid of this well abused little helper...

Keep in mind please that cancer are cells that have mutated and gained momentum and as we get older that is what our cells do as a rule except that as we get older our ability to stop the momentum is reduced and our good cells get overwhelmed - see it doesn't sound so bad that way does it.

I don't want you to think that the only thing I talk about when talking about Mags is her boobs but, ummm, well today it is.

All my life Mags has had a fantastic pair of C cup perky boobs - this is important in our house because Pippapotamus and I take after our paternal grandmother in the boob department and the sizing is quite different to our maternal side. But 5 years and one month ago (yes right just before Christmas, December is always a big month in our house) a lump was found and a visit to the doctor was organised.

Because Mags is a surgical nurse she didn't want to have her operation at the hospital she worked at so she got a referral to a breast clinic in Auckland - this was super convenient cause it was very near where my job was based and I commuted to Auckland most days.

All was going to plan EXCEPT on the day of Mags pre-op check the silly surgeon (and she is the voice of the Breast Cancer awareness ads - grrrr) totally freaked out about Magses x-rays cause there were lots and lots of shadows on her ribs and on her pelvis - shadows are medical talk for bad things in the body - and so she (not the cat's mother but the surgeon) wouldn't operate based on the idea that Mags had advanced bone cancer.

So picture this - I was waiting the car, after all Mags is a surgical nurse so she knows the pre-op check drill quite well and was waiting and waiting and then a nurse came out and invited me in. Nothing like that to create a feeling of impending doom.

I remember walking the hall to the surgeons office and opening the door and seeing, wait for it... the surgeon crying! Not Mags because she is of tough Northern European stock so stoic is the word for her but the flippin' surgeon... crying? What's that about? And it was big tears crying too.

Geez I'm glad I hadn't watched Grey's Anatomy before this all happened cause I'd think this was normal behaviour for a surgeon.

And so started a journey of surgery, radiotherapy, pills, doctors visits, ruling out chemotherapy, more pills, stress, more pills, bleak outcomes, changes, fatalistic attitudes, depression, frustration, more pills, more doctors visits and lots of frank discussions with doctors who really don't know what the shadows are but we know they aren't cancer (by we I don't mean the doctors) but probably will be, not because of the breast cancer but because Mags is getting older and that's what cells do, breakdown and can't get up again without lots of nasty help.

Mags decided the shadows weren't cancer and dropped the 3 monthly doctors visits to 6 monthly (saving you, the tax payer a wee bit of money) and basically took control of her relationship with the Health System (warrants caps as you can imagine).

Scariest things about cancer is how little doctors know about it, each type of cancer is very different, as is each patient, and that really conventional medicine has only limited response to cancer. There is so little control over what to do because the options are so limited. I admire parents who take their kids to Mexico to have alternative therapies, keeping in mind alternative these days just means not Government approved. Taking control of something, anything is a really important part of recovery.

And recovery is what we celebrate today!
And lopsided boobs, the mark of a breast cancer survivor!

(Please note: Mags is the one not in black - my boobs are even,
can't speak for Pippapotamus though)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, YAY! Congrats to Mags 5 year plus anniversary. My Mum's just starting her journey and reading this gives me hope. Thanks for stopping by to say hello. Stef