~Mary Anne Radmacher
One of those details being: I still have cancer. That’s right, I tried to wish it away but it just wont go! Seems as though there are still some cancer cells attempting to corrupt more pre-cancerous cells lingering in my right breastal region (perhaps you prefer boobal region? I believe in the American right to make up words. It is ginormously important! It may even be in the first amendmant…). That’s the scary truth of it: I’ve been through so much shit and I still have cancer. Can’t you tell you’re not wanted, evil C cells?! Theoretically, a mastectomy will get it all and we’ll be in the clear. Ideally, hopefully, fingers-crossed-ly.
Another detail, why did Kenny Loggins “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack get thrown in here in one of the first blogs? Danielle told me Beyonce’s “Survivor” went through her head when she heard/read the news, and I can’t help but admit, it traveled into mine too! But then I had to quickly mute it because we’re just not there yet. Driving around town in a state of shock, disbelief, anger and doom, the universal powers that be gave me a little Loggins time and sent “I’m Alright” to the radio. Listening to it was a nice step back in time–ah, memories, family, friends, life–and a reminder that I’m not the kind of person that stays curled up in a ball of doom and gloom (sure, I curl into the ball sometimes, but only temporarily). I’d rather go at this aggressively, seize cancer by the throat and chuck it out into the streets, ASAP! I got shit to do and cancer was not on my list of life-long goals. But here it is, already over-staying its un-welcome.
“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” ~Maya Angelou (If she can swear, why can’t we?!)
And, Nik, thanks for the home-made CD! Listening to it now, and mellowing. Kari, yours in up next!
“One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain.” ~Marley
One more, little tiny teensy weensy detail: the armpit numbness I’ve mentioned may last anywhere from nine months (Dr. Gambhir’s estimate) to one year (my plastic surgeon, Dr. Nishikawa). Or rather, that’s the amount of time it may take for my arm to be back to normal. This is because of the removal of and damage to my lymph nodes. F. Bomb. Ugh. Do you know what it feels like to put on deodorant on when there’s no feeling there?! I can’t tell if the deodorant went on! (Which, by the way, as cousin Nicole mentioned, Aluminum-free deodorants don’t work so great; still looking for a good one. Ash, which one did you try and like? I didn’t like the Crystal, never thought it worked, I need something that smells good. Should I just rub some aluminum chunks under there? Is that the secret ingredient? I know it’s potentially carcinogenic but, hey, I already got cancer! I’d rather not be the smelly kid at this point.) To explain what my upper arm and arm pit area feel like, it’s just this: chaffing. Constant relief-less chaffing. I see men cringing. Ladies, it feels like a bra edge folded under a tight tank top and rubbing only I can’t just adjust it. It’s tight and stiff and sore to move and lift my arm. Nine months of this?! Fuuuuuuuhhhh.
Yesterday was the Oahu day trip (I live on the neighboring island of Maui in Hawaii and not all of Kaiser’s doctors and facilities are here) to the plastic surgeon to discuss reconstructive surgery. Folks, I’m here to be honest. I’m not going to sugarcoat this. You may need to remove small children from the room. The details of a mastectomy and reconstruction, are in one word, BARBARIC (boobaric?! Hahaha. I may be loosing my mind, finally). I was horrified as we talked through the process. Cancer is obviously here in my life to show me that there-are-no-shortcuts-we-can’t-get-through-this-fast-I-need-to-slow-down-stop-and-smell-the-roses-stop-worrying-about-work-and-anything-else-but-getting-healthy-shut-the-hell-up-and-deal-with-it. Something like that. At least that’s what I got out of it. I will spare you the details for this blog because there was something deeper at the heart of the Oahu trip.
I finally had my meltdown; I went and sat at rock bottom and had a brief pity party. Obviously, the last blog represented a terrible day and the descent into no-man’s land. I thought it was the bottom and that I climbed back up. But I was wrong. I got through the Oahu trip and then got home, went to a lovely movie with my man and then started telling Sean about the horrors of the reconstructive surgery, the time it will take to go through the three surgeries and six plus appointments that make up the reconstructive process. By re-telling what I had heard earlier that day, the reality came in fully and sat like an elephant on my chest and a storm cloud over my head. Cue giant fat rolling tears on the car ride home, pause to get ready for bed, and cue more tears in bed. Sean chose the tough love method in the car as I whined and pitied myself and this sucky path of life I got put on and then, at home, I “yelled” (spoke strongly sounds more accurate, “voiced my opinion”) at him that he needed to baby me (as a stubborn man to my stubborn lady-ness, he finally relented and chose to alternate between supportive things and being quiet while I got it out; we are quite a match of stubborn-ity!). But the whole magic of it all, is that once I gave in a cried it out, I was over it. I was lighter. It took maybe ten minutes and then I could let it all go. All that shit just floated off in the breeze and I slept. Don’t think for a minute I’m telling you that I’m emotionally balanced but that chunk, that situation, has been processed away and put to rest. I’m better today than I was yesterday. And guess what mastectomy with reconstruction? I’m still coming at ya. You. Me. Tuesday. See you (in part) in the OR. (Stronger drugs, please).
“Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.” ~Unknown.
How are you all doing? I’ve gotten some feedback that you experienced many emotions from reading this, but what exactly? I know I promised you a poll in the Results are In blog but I couldn’t have your opinions weighing on my decision; it just had to be my decision or as an independent young lady, I would second guess myself. So let’s try the polling feature below. The Unknown/Other category are for those of you that say, “Serena, I don’t know how I feel. My girlfriend made me read this.” Or perhaps, “Serena, I don’t know what emotions are.” Or even, “Serena, I’m cry/laughing so hard I don’t know what I’m clicking.” Or the usual, “Serena, I’m not good at multiple choice, is this a test? Is there a right answer? A wrong answer? WHY IS THIS SO STRESSFUL?!” Just, shhhhh, click it, breath, take a walk and come back when you’re ready. Stop channeling college nightmares.
Another detail: To Bob and Maryellen, I have changed the tag line to reflect your witty input! We are no longer here for therapy but “Tumor Humor and Cathartic Carcinoma Quips.” Much more attractive and far less scary. Therapy is scary sometimes. I did a little dictionary-dot-com-ing to make sure I was using “cathartic” properly (Darlene Wilt, I almost always check my work!) and I found some interesting definitions.
The first was “a purging medication; stimulates evacuation of the bowels.” Well, according to that definition, we are going to shit all over this blog! Go for it, purge away: shit on it, I dare you! Life is shitty. We often get stuck in shitty situations. Shit will hit the fan at some point. This is shit and this is shine-ola (The Jerk, a classic family and Lake Winnipesaukee Labor Day Party movie). We are never too hold to deal with shit and have fun with shit; some of you are even cleaning up shitty diapers (even from adorable Sellier girls, Cami and Cossette!). Ah, shit.
The second definition was far more accurate and exactly what I was looking for: “emotionally purging.” Yup, in the case of shit hitting the fan, we’re usually experiencing a lot of emotions (ideally, the fan will whisk those emotions away and just a hint of a poo smell will remain as a humbling reminder of what we went through, the shit). I am using this blog to emotionally purge. I’m kind of shitting on you. In some species, that is special. Maybe not in Homo sapiens. But a bird shitting on you is lucky, right? Or did a parent somewhere make that one up so console a shat-upon child somewhere? Hmm, I digress. Where were we? Oh, yes, I shit on you with emotions. But I leave the door open for you to shit back! That’s what the comments section is all about! Shit away (the overuse of this word is leading to it’s loss of intensity; granted, it’s a bit more acceptable in society and culture than the F word; kids reading this, I’m just referencing Fudge or Fruit or something else Fantastic). We’re emotionally purging our way through a very difficult matter with equal bits of reality and crap and humor and fun; like a fine life recipe, huh, mum?
Can you find the shit in this picture? Guess what? It’s from the brown BOOBie bird! Life is ironic!
And this leads me to one of our last devilish details: the amazingness of all of your [unshitty] support! And my extreme inability to call you back. I’m still Serena, I still have a hard time with the phone. I have received so much love and support from you and I haven’t been able to keep up with it. But the cancer books say I don’t have to and the cancer books say (because you probably haven’t had as much time as our household to read them so I did for you) that you should not be offended that I didn’t call or write or email or text you back! Yay! Cancer, the scapegoat, strikes again! You can blame it too! I got flowers from mom and dad, Erik and Lisa, Michael and Craig, the Pacific Whale Foundation Lahaina-side family. Care packages and thinking of you gifts from godparents Carol and Craig, Nik, Kari, Mike and Laura and Reno dog (and Scupper even got a doggy care package from them!), Aleta and Gary, Steph and Linds, Jac and Andrew, Sierra and Drew, Uncle Dennis and Mary Lou, the McClellands. Cards from all over the place from all areas of my life, phone calls and texts all up in my phone, emails filled my in box. It has all been overwhelmingly amazing and continues to be so! I write this as a huge thank you. I cannot always get back to you. Sometimes I’m busy, sometimes I’m just too tired with all this stuff. And I do feel guilty about even though I know you understand and the books say I don’t have to. But your love and support and respect and care do not go unnoticed. You all want to do something and you have; just reading this and sharing this is enough but you’ve gone above and beyond. Mahalo cannot be expressed enough and I know I’ve said it a lot in here; I’m shooting for overkill anyway! I love you kids!
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~Lao Tzu
Our final detail: did you feel yourself up yet?! Woah, WOAH! Let’s not get carried away! Get your mind out of and away from the gutter! I just want to make sure you did your boob check. It can take 6-10 years for cancer to develop into a notable lump. Ain’t that a mind trip? All this reading and learning about cancer and I’ve maybe possible potentially had it for a long time. But, dear, cancer, you are still not an old friend! You are still not welcomed with open arms. I still plan to find you. And kill you! Don’t put up a fight anymore. Let’s just make this quick–and since we can’t say painless, and hardly even quick for that matter and my mind set; just go peacefully. And never ever come back.