I promise I am working on the next part of the diagnosis chapter. Meanwhile, I thought I’d share a couple of sweet-tasting news items.
One-I got the results from my gene testing. They were (drum roll)…surprisingly…negative for both BRCA 1 and 2! I am kind of shocked, considering my age and family history. A small (silly) part of me thought I’d like it to be positive, just so I’d have an answer to the “why me, why now” question. However, I am thrilled with the results. The why’s are really not important (it’s just a natural mental habit that I think it unavoidable, at least to some extent.) Whoopee!
However, this doesn’t change my mind about getting the other one taken off. One reason is that, in case you didn’t know, negative gene testing doesn’t mean that your cancer is definitely not genetic. There are something like 6 or 8 possible gene mutations known (note the use of the word known). However, BRCA 1/2 are the most common by far. It is not considered feasible at this point financially and resources-wise to test for every random mutation possibility, both because they are so rare and because there could still be others yet unknown. Thus, there’s still a small chance it could be genetic. Secondly, my favorite one is already gone. I might as well avoid the runner-up from giving me problems later. I don’t ever want to go through this again if I can help it. And I’ve got so very many years for it to come back. (boo!) Lastly, if I am “upgrading” in size (which you-bet-your-bottom I am), I have to alter the other one anyway. So I figure, “get ‘er done!”
Two-Speaking of mastectomies, the last little bit of scab finally came off in the shower on Saturday. (Sorry if that sounds gross.) That’s right, in my story almost one year ago, I am not far from the surgery part, and in the here and now it’s still healing 11 months later!! Of course I will tell you more when the time comes, but if you are about to go through the surgery yourself, never fear. I had a very random and mysterious healing problem. It’s not likely to happen to you and besides, it was more frustrating than anything else. Double whoopee! No scab!
Three-Here at my family’s house in North Carolina, I’ve been doing house projects with my father. Cleaning, spot de-rusting and repainting the iron patio furniture and, best of all, redoing my father’s library. Why do you care? Well, you may not. But it’s relevant because ever since I had my mastectomy I’ve mourned the loss of my 12 lymph nodes. I have found there to be a gross lack of information regarding the healing process in specifics.
For a long time I thought I would never be able to do many physical things again. I have constantly wondered “Can I do this yet? Can I do that ever again?” The information simply didn’t say how much use I could expect to regain. One day, watching The Best Show Ever to Come on TV (LOST, in case you didn’t know that) I actually started crying a little. This is because I always identified with Kate in the sense that I’m somewhat tomboyish. I love to challenge myself physically, I love to climb trees, I used to do gymnastics, etc and have always felt pretty tough, like I can do anything I want, even weighing 100 pounds wet and wearing 3 inch heels. After surgery, I didn’t feel that way anymore and watching her do that stuff made me so envious and sad. She represented the part of me that had been snatched away. And it was a very important part. I’d never just hoist myself up an air-conditioning shaft (cause I do that so often, right?) without greater consequence than pulling a muscle. I’d never again be able to defy the people who’d say “You can’t do (X) by yourself!” I really missed that “I-can-do-anything, just-watch-me” feeling.
While the extent of my future tree climbing days remains to be seen, I constantly feel more optimistic about my arm’s abilities. And here at the house, I’ve been moving furniture up and down stairs and painting walls. I’ve never been so happy to do house chores. Mind you, all is done carefully and conscientiously, never forgetting and always favoring my good arm, but done all the same. I’m not quite ready to get stranded on a deserted island and chased by (a different sort of) invisible monsters, but I’m getting there!