Archive for June, 2011

Steph Knows a Grrrrrrreat Card. I am Encouraged.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 by drycreekherbs

This makes me oh so happy.Steph's card

Late Night Email Text to the Posse. I Love the Sisters.

Posted in Learning Curve on June 30, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Today I did the first lab work….it went quickly because I was there at 7:00 am –just a little hyper vigilant. And it was social, social, social. A former student did my EKG although I couldn’t remember her name. I met Babs in Georgetown for shoe wilding at DSW where I bought one more pair of orthopedic uglies and two pair of podiotrist-says-against- regulation-flip flops (but oh so cute). We went to lunch, then Steinmart for earrings and a maxi dress. Babs, you are a saint…there is a reason you are the only person who would train with me. You are a great grounding rod and didn’t seem to mind too much when I would swing from prattle about the Food Network Channel Drive Ins, Diners, and Dives to cremation. We split…I went to see Edward and Mint Salon folks for an additional boost. Edward has an almost life-sized tattoo of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Technicolor on his forearm now. Plus he has sent me a picture of a healing deity from (?). Covering all bases…He is precious to me. Anyway, taking Susan L’s advice, I left a message with Jose P., GYN and FORMER infertility doctor, to please call me. Dang, it worked fast, Suz! He called and we did a little phone tag for a while. Then we finally spoke and I hit him with all my questions and anxieties (83.) I did another round of pros and cons of bilateral mastectomy to lumpectomy. I am paraphrasing here: He said, “Do you want me to call Dr. Lairmore and tell him you are really tied to your self-image? Do you want me to tell him you are worried about death and dying and being scarred?” I said, “Yes, and I love you.” He said, I will call you back by tomorrow. He called 15 minutes later. He said: “No, you do not need a full, single mastectomy now. Too soon for plan B. Do plan A first. I am glad I could only make a partial scene and it was on the phone. I feel so much better. He said I would have a dent on the side and if it makes me nuts (he knows me), he will help me get reconstruction. I think he thinks it won’t make me crazy in the long run. Dr. Lairmore also told Jose that I can call him and talk if I want/need. OF COURSE, I have always been high maintenance, but the BIG C really does it to you….makes me crazy as a loon, quiet and hiding under a rock, and ????? It is a wretched roller coaster ride. And I have seen the old BW movie Camielle too many times. Drama, drama, drama. Camille_2.jpg


Ok, by now it is time for this this email to be DONE. I talked to Len 16 times during the day. He has stepped up to the plate. A good man, and, as his dental hygienist says, “Elegant.” So then to the part I dreaded most, seeing and talking to Mom. It was very good I think. She was dear and tender and I was goofy and pragmatic (for 20 minutes) then I did a tiiiiiiiny tear up. It is all good, I think. Brother Bill and his Mary came over and we all chatted….I feel very good right now. Could be medicinal liquor.

Trip cancelled to San Miguel already done. Boo and Hiss. Vivian B. former BISD, has been giving me encouragement from her husband Dudley to hold off cancelling Boston and that has been nice too. I am not going to cancel Boston or Hawaii yet. Oh please, oh please, don’t let me unravel badly. I mean there are a hundred degrees of unraveling. I want degree 1 and stage 1! Oh, also Fr. David called today. Very good talk. I told him he couldn’t be nice to me. He said, “This will be easy for me.” We both chuckled. He knows who he is –and for me, I like it.

Tomorrow, I will wish I had been more judicious and edited more!

Posse, you are the best. I promise I won’t do too many late night emails…hey, better than phone calls!   You all give me wisdom when you don’t even know it. Thank you. Ann reminds, me that I used to say, “Leap and the net will appear.” It will. Thanks chicks for holding up the net!

An Angel Called Me Today….My Very Own Breast Cancer Navigator

Posted in living to the hilt on June 25, 2011 by drycreekherbs

How cool is that? I moved from dispirited to giddy with just one call. I bet that is all about no hormone patch and desperation.

They (Scott and White Mammography folk) said that someone would call me to help me through the process. She, Carol E. called me just as I was going through TSA security at the Nashville Airport. She left a message and I verrrry smartly called her right back. The long and short of the conversation follows

  1. She will meet Len and me for my appointment on Monday (I kinda think she will actually be there for the entire appointment.) Another set of ears for us.
  2. I can call her whenever I need information about anything. Is this wonderful, or what?
  3. She is actually a survivor of two kinds of cancer–breast and lung! WOW. Instant credibility
  4. My cancer is the most common…80% of all the breast cancers
  5. My cancer is little biddy (my description) only 1.14cm. Also known to non-metrics as about 1/2 inch.
  6. She sees lots of mammograms and although not the doctor she thinks it can be a partial mastectomy (aka lumpectomy) and radiation. Dr. Lairmore will give me all the options
  7. Surgery will have two incisions-1 to get the mass out and the second to check out the lymph nodes
  8. I THINK she said that currently the stats for full mastectomy and partial with radiation are about the same….2% recurrence rate. Len will be verrrrrrry good at this part for analysis.
  9. After 4 weeks or so, six weeks of radiation. Five weeks of the entire breast and one week targeting the specific area.
  10. Wellllllllllll, yes, that sounds pretty good. She said, that she anticipates the worst part will be inconvenience. I like inconvenience at this point.
  11. I became totally squirrely. Totally. I told her more or less this: ” I love you Carol. If you turn out to be mean, I will still love you.” She thought that was funny. I also thanked her from the bottom of my heart for giving me hope. I do love her. Hope with credibility…not ‘butterflies, rainbows, and peace among men’ verbiage.

Cowgirl Posse.jpgI called most of the posse with the news. Mom especially loved it. Billy printed the text for her and I followed up with a call. I looooooooove my Mom. I mean, I realllllly love my Mom. I want to grow up (soon) to be just like her. Also like Len.

What else? Carol said it is normal to feel every little ache and pain and think that you have cancer in your bunion. And if I do, please God, let me do it with grace. Susan S. who has been through this about 2 years ago told me not to read internet stuff. It will make me insane. She said a very good friend of hers sent her a tome called Dr. Love’s Guide to Breast Cancer. Susan said she read the first two pages and cried. She put the book away. That is how I feel. At this point, in the Pre-Champion Stage, if I read internet stuff, I go mad….hyperventilation is imminent…it scares the HOUND out of me. Susan said it right, “Don’t read it.” Some chums are absolutely high on specifics and information. Not so, for Susan Krals. I might prefer a certain amount of surprise. I think I know the bottom line: I might die and it might be messy and I might not do it with courage and grace. End of that stream of consciousness. I like for the posse to propose questions for me to ask, not for me to read.

Happier thoughts. I have received some very loving and some very funny cards. I want belly laughs. I might not mind underpants wettin’ laughs. And speaking of such, out of the blue I am talking to one of my roommates from 1968-71 who is so wonderfully funny. Nancy and her sister Becky were both my roommates and they are back in my life and making me laugh. And if that isn’t weird, my best friend from Ramstein Junior High, 1959, and reconnected I through Facebook about 3 months ago. Nancy is delightful and she gives me lots of positive feedback and encouragement. I love hearing from her.

Ok, I am now eating Deviled Ham on Hint of Salt Triscuits in bed as I write this….how incongruent is that? Cat food never tasted so good! Better go to bed so I can swell up in the night Len will be home tomorrow at this time….Life will be better.

Winning Comes Easy if You Use Your Talents

Posted in living to the hilt on June 25, 2011 by drycreekherbs

RevolverGirl-500.jpg DSC02312.jpgFor no good reason I cleaned everyone out the last time we played Texas Hold ‘Em with Dentons and Lawsons. Oh it felt sooooooooo good to win!

Molly Kitridge, 1899 Quotation: “It’s My TIme in Life to Ride High”

Posted in Learning Curve on June 25, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Great quotation found on my newly purchased Confidence candle. I can’t find anything about her on the internet but I like the idea. Well-said, Molly! The label says facetiously that fin burning the candle you will acquire more bravery, grit, guts, heart, nerve, & bravado. Bring it on, sister Molly!

So, I am back from Nashville. The conference was good, ran smoothly, and it was THE perfect place for me this past week. I had dinner with Mary, Delanie, Sandy, Joyce, and new-to me-Board member, Barbara. I got to practice my, “I have breast cancer” proclamation. I probably should have been more thoughtful about that but I think it was very good. WE didn’t talk about it more than 5 minutes before we moved on to recipes, Doc Martin, books, etc. I think it was very good, in fact. Afterwards, we went our separate ways, I went back to my room when Susan IMG_1058.JPG called with the offer of a drink in their room. Bros. Bill had bought some Jack Daniels—fact is, it was like a Jack smorgasbord….3 pints of different Jack D….Bill said he thought one would catch my fancy….helllllllo, yes it did. Jack Daniel Honey. He had a pint; he had one glass; I drank the rest of the pint. Very tasty. Something like a liquid Luden cough drop with hootch. It eased the anxiety, I can say for sure. This has inspired me to make my own cough drops….and sure enough on the web I found the following. I am dropping zucchini bread production –switching to cough drops made with Jack Daniel’s Honey! I found this recipe and the last line says add whatever….I am thinking’ JD Honey!

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Honey Cough Drops

½ Cup honey and a candy thermometer

Put honey in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly; bring honey to a boil. Attach candy thermometer; continue stiring until the honey reaches a temperature of 300-310 F. Honey will burn very quickly, so it is important not to leave it. Reduce the heat to a simmer if necessary (if the honey seems to be heating up too fast or you smell scorched honey).

Immediately remove from heat; check for the right consistency by dropping a few drops of the cooked honey into a cup of ice water. Let it get cold then feel the drops. They should feel like hard candy. If the honey is still soft, return to heat and cook a little longer and repeat the ice water test again. Continue to stir , off the heat until honey cools enough to drop by teaspoonfuls onto a well-greased solid surface. It needs to be runny but less than when you first took it from the heat.

Do not wait too long or honey will be impossible to remove from pan. Work quickly. Don’t skimp on greasing surface or the drops become permanent. Silpat will help to release drops for the surface once cooled.

Allow drops to cool completely. Do not refrigerate to hasten process. Pop drops off surface with a dinner knife. Best to wrap individually. Store in a cool dry place. You can add Jack Daniel’s Honey whisky to the cooking liquid while cooking. Hmmmmmm.

I am Hoping to Refer to this as my Pre-Champion Stage

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2011 by drycreekherbs

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That is the way Stephanie and I want to think of it….this is the time before I pull it all together and become inspiring and incredibly brave and resilient….but since this is the Pre-Champion stage I am not so much either of those things.

Yesterday about 3:30 I decided to call Scott & White since I had not heard anything. I discovered that my nurse was out of the office until today so I asked for her colleague who was able to tell me the damned awful results. I have Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Grade 2 of 3 possibles. How could I be stunned when the radiologist at the onset called it very scary…yeah, that pretty wells says it from my perspective: Pretty Damned Scary Syndrome.

I was out in the parking lot of the Grand Old Opry Hotel and I was mighty stoic until right before I hung up the phone and I started with the wretched crackling voice. I walked back to find Susan and ran into Laura C one of our MCEC Board members…she said something like, “Susan, how are you?” I kinda let it fly. She was amazingly kind….today I found her and thanked her. I found Susan and shared the news. She has been my rock. Last night I opted out of line dancing at the Wild Horse Saloon. Instead I had dinner on my own. When Susan got back we went to the “Library” bar and had wine…and therapy. All about me, I might add.

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Seems like 2 years have passed and it has been just over 24 hours. In this time I have had to tell Len, Carol, Steph, Cee, Brother, the Killeen Girl Friends Association (to be referred to as the KGFA), Mah Jongg team, and a few of the MCEC team. I asked Brother Billy to tell Mom but then I called her after I knew he had done the hard part. I can hold it together pretty good until I am with someone who emotes then I crumble…..I hate, hate, hate that part. I mean I really hate it. To Mom’s credit she held it together when we talked and only once did I start to blubber.  

It is waaaaaay to raw to recount too much and I am substantially better today. It will be a roller coaster ride. Here are the things I know:

  1. I do get to see Dr. Lairmore on Monday, June 27 to discuss my surgical options and his plans for my condition
  2. Len will be home this Saturday so he will go with me.
  3. I am probably going to have surgery before the end of July.
  4. Looks like chemotherapy and radiation too
  5. I will be buying a wig. It will be a good long while before I get to have my long braid.
  6. No matter what, I am currently not just scared of losing a breast but that the cancer has run rampant through me and that when they operate, they will just sew me back up because it is so complete. I have to be able to say that…and I damned well do not want anyone telling me I can’t think that way. Right now, I can and I am. After all this is part of the Pre-Champion stage.
  7. I am glad the theme of the MCEC Conference has been Inspiration as I have heard and seen many presenters who shame me with my fear and whininess. They are inspiring and I think I can suck it up and step up to the plate in time…not yet….I am still percolating.
  8. People respond to news in character. I am going to include some of the comments because they are so precious.
  9. I looked down at my right foot today and saw that my ancient bunion was red. I just had a quick thought: What if it has spread to my bunion? I let that particular anxiety go.
  10. I called my GP’s office today and asked his nurse to have him look at my records…I just want Shane to know. I think he will feel bad for me.
  11. Carol who had breast cancer 16 years ago told me I can make up my own rules about this and that they will change every day. She already is coaching Len on breast cancer etiquette and support dos and don’ts. I like that.
  12. Looks like I am not going to Mexico in July and maybe not to Boston. Wish I had bought travel insurance for both of those trips.

So Now I am a Biopsy Vet

Posted in Learning Curve on June 18, 2011 by drycreekherbs

Another verrrrrry steep learning curve. Hmmmm, where to start. Maybe the night before. I became more and more weird and pretty darned wired, not to be confused with weird–although some characteristics are the same. MEGA. I just had to have some prosecco and it was tasty; it didn’t hurt and it didn’t help. And I gained a pound. Bad, bad alcohol.

I guess I only got about 4.5 hours of sleep which may have exacerbated my anxiety. I got up early enough to shower and of course, put on a good bit of make up. I think it is important to make a connection with your caregivers. I sure did that. So I got there at 7:45 and Susan L was there within minutes. I felt so jumpy. I mean it. I could have exploded easily I was so twitchy, albeit well dressed and groomed! Thank God she was there…just the proper amount of distraction from the anxiety. She doesn’t talk much but when she does it is the RIGHT talk. IF Len had been there I would have to have killed him. He would be trying too hard and in the wrong direction. I am still very pleased he is asking for advice. Steph says, he may not be a fast learner but he is a learner unlike most men. True. I love that about him. OKKKKKKKKKKK, back to the tale.

So Susan L is distracting me appropriately and I introduce her to the technician who summoned me as the official listener. I am sitting there in the regulation blue, wrap around gown with S when the young resident comes in and introduces himself….a young Dr. Kildare type…very nice and he spoke slowly! That I loved. He asked how I was and I blurted out, “I am a wreck. I am verrrrrrry nervous.” Cool guy response, “That is the way every one who comes here feels.” Although I liked that response I had about a 2 minute Projectile Tear episode. Thank God it didn’t involve hiccups and drool. I think I looked really composed (make up worries) but those pesky tears just shot straight out. Right about then I started to deescalate…and I gradually pulled it off and well, pretty damned well. Once I can feel like I am in control (sorta) of the social quality conditions, I can pretty much deal with things. So I made friends with everyone. Susan asked the right questions and got answers to be related later in this entry. They wouldn’t let her stay for the procedure and really I think I liked that too. I mean I say she is unconditionally a friend but if I screamed, thrashed about, or fainted….? Ultrasound biopsy equipment.jpg

So the procedure. It did not hurt…it sounded like an electric stapler but the Dr. always told me when to expect it. Felt like some one poking me with their finger. Leslie, very sweet and likable ultrasound technician and I had bonded…she had to reallly hunt for the area…good sign. Staff Dr. came in to coach and mentor young Dr. Kildare….his name was Dr. Phil….I determined where everyone went to college–yea TAMU! Then proceeded to talk about my recent archery and handgun experience so they would know not to mess with me. This lead to Dr. P saying he & his wife didn’t really know how to handle their young son’s interest in handguns. So being who I am, I explained that although I am ‘barren’, I am an experienced Child Development teacher and offered sage advice and parenting tips. He liked it….if nothing else my prattle beat having a patient hyper ventilate.

The two doctors went out to see that they had what they wanted; came back in for another little bit, showed me the bottle with my name on it (protocol I suspect) then off they went. Leslie took away some of the gel and then we went out the door…all smiles and laughter…Susan surmised I had overcome the shakes. Then Leslie did another mammogram so to be sure the little marker was in place. Jerry the Mammogram nurse came out and said they are still trying to see if Dr. Lair….will fit me in June 27 instead of waiting until July 11.

I got dressed. Susan went on to Bible study and I went and got my oil changed, Sam’s Club, then met Susan and Bill, Bob and Becky, and Mary Lou for lunch. By then I was enjoying a huge, über euphoric state. It was awesome…real chemical. When I got home I went straight to bed with a bag of frozen soup vegetables on my breast and slept for two blissful hours.

Bottom line: When I left the follow-up mammogram on Monday, I was convinced they thought it was definitely cancer. Now after the biopsy CONVERSATION with resident, staff physician and ultrasound tech, Susan and I believe that they don’t know for certain ….but these images, architectural distortions, often are or develop into cancer……my ‘distortion’ is small….My boobs are very dense in general. I now know that they are doing the biopsy before surgery to determine just how much of the breast tissue to remove during the subsequent surgery. I will know Monday or Tuesday if the biopsy is positive they will take a wide margin out when they do the .surgery; if it is negative they will take less.

So why the ‘very scary’ description? Don’t know. The biopsy people used words like very suspicious. One way or the other–they got my attention. The latest crew indicated that Mexico trip is not necessarily out. If I have one deflated breast, I wonder if I will still be popular with old men?