Yeah, so, I found out today that I don’t have cancer again.
Yesterday, I wasn’t so sure. In fact, for the past several days I believed that I might have cancer again.
Let me start at the beginning. In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. (You can read all about my adventures in breast cancer riiight here.) I had a few surgeries, including a mastectomy of my left breast and reconstructive surgery in 2010. Starting in 2010, I began taking tamoxifen, because I had an estrogen-positive cancer and tamoxifen blocks estrogen in your body. I took it for about 9 months, then I got knocked up, and after I evicted the Spawn from my uterus, I went back on the tamoxifen like a good little breast cancer survivor. I think it sucks that the drug I’m taking to decrease my risk of breast cancer slightly increases my chances of endometrial cancer. But my oncologist says it’s a risk worth taking, and he went to school for this stuff and is really smart, so I do what he says.
[Warning: This blog post will involve the words “period,” “uterus” and other words that make me snicker when I play them in Words with Friends. To reward you, I will end this post with cute photos. Deal?]
Cut to last Friday, when it occurs to me that I have been on my period for two weeks. I emailed my doctor, and what I expected her to say is, “Oh, that happens sometimes. Don’t worry about it.” Instead she said, “I think you should make an appointment for Monday, and we should a biopsy of the endometrial lining in your uterus since you are on tamoxifen and it increase your cancer risk.”
Immediately, I went into panic mode. Even though she said that I’m sure the test will be normal, all I kept thinking about was how I probably have cancer again. When I found the lump in my left breast in 2009, I was told that it was probably nothing, but it wasn’t nothing. It was cancer. It’s happening again, I thought.
I called to make my appointment, and Kaiser made me talk to an advice nurse first. She tried to calm my anxiety. “Welcome to your 40s,” she said. “I get this same call every day from women over 40.” She was able to calm my anxiety for about 15 minutes. Then I started freaking out again.
All weekend long, I had a horrible feeling in my gut. I had cancer again. I would rock with Calvin in his chair at night, but him to bed, and then walk out of his room and cry. Calvin needs me. I need to not have cancer again. It’s not fair. I put in my cancer time.
On Monday, I went to my appointment and the doctor assured me once again that I was probably fine. She just wanted to be cautious. I nodded and said, “I’ve been told that before.” She said that my anxiety was normal given the circumstances, and she would call me the second the test results come in, but it might take a week.
Ugh. A week. A week of walking around thinking I might have cancer.
Then she sent me to the Kaiser lab to get blood drawn. Thanks, doc. You know just how to cheer a girl up. If you haven’t been to the lab at Kaiser in San Francisco, well, it’s pretty much just like Disneyland in that you wait in a really long line except at the end of it they stab you with a needle and suck out your blood. There was almost a riot at the lab once. True story.
So, after god knows how long, they finally call my number, which means I get to check in and move to the other area to waste my time and wait to have my blood drawn. Oh goodie. As I was reading my Entertainment Weekly review of “Iron Man 3” a pregnant woman sits next to me. She asks me how long I’ve been waiting, because she has an appointment upstairs and she was supposed to get her blood work before and she doesn’t think she’s going to have time.
I was insanely jealous of her. I desperately wished I was getting pregnancy blood work instead of cancer blood work. I’m pretty sure that’s the first time since having my baby that I wished I was pregnant again. Things that make you go hmmm.
I offered to switch numbers with the pregnant lady, because what’s additional 20-minute wait for me at this point, and we should all be very nice to pregnant ladies. She turned me down, but I could tell that she was thankful for the offer, and she left before her number was called.
Since Monday afternoon I’ve been a nervous wreck with that horrible pit in my stomach. I kept crying off and on. Even though I was really busy at work, I kept thinking that I have cancer and this is not how I want to spend my time. In other words, I was barely keeping it together.
Then late yesterday, the bleeding stopped, and I started to feel like maybe I was going to be OK, but I needed the test to confirm that for me. Until then, the horrible feeling wasn’t going away.
This afternoon, my phone rang. I could see it was Kaiser and that nervous feeling took over my entire body. The doctor told me the results would arrive in a week. They’re early. That can’t be good. I picked up my phone and ran out of the office. I work in a cube, and there’s nowhere for me to have a private conversation. The last thing I need is for the office busybody to hear my phone conversation: “So, you thought you had cancer, Sonia. That’s funny. What are you having for lunch?”
Then my doctor told me that everything came back normal. “What’s going on is just a side effect of the tamoxifen. It’s normal.”
“I don’t have cancer?” I blurted out.
“No. You don’t have cancer. The test came back normal.”
“I’m so relieved!” I started to cry.
“I’m relieved, too,” the doctor said.
I called David. I texted my Mom and Michelle. I told my office buddies Paul and Jennifer: “So I totally don’t have cancer after all, you guys.”
Then I rushed home to pick up my baby and hug him, and kiss him 500 times on the forehead and read him “Goodnight, Gorilla” six times in a row before putting him to bed.
To celebrate, mighty, mighty good man David ordered Indian food delivery from one of my favorite places in San Francisco, Shalimar. No easy feat considering they don’t deliver. David used Task Rabbit to get it delivered. Smart and handsome: Sorry, everyone, he’s taken! Then we stuffed our faces and watched “The Simpsons,” which is pretty much my idea of heaven.
I would say that on a day-to-day basis I’m a grateful person. Every day I realize how lucky I am. I hug my friends and family. I tell people that I love them. I’m happy. Today, I am super grateful and super happy.
But what I have to learn to accept about myself is that even though I don’t have cancer anymore, I will never get over the fact that I had cancer.
And now the part of the post you’ve been waiting for: Cute photos!