Tag Archives: ultrasound

Overdue update, & encountering cancer

This is largely what I saw the first time I encountered cancer:

I was wearing this absurdly cheerful polka-dot skirt the day I went for my biopsy results and was informed I had a Stage 2, Grade 2 breast cancer.  I was looking at my lap, my feet, the sterile linoleum floor, trying not to throw up–shocked and strangely interested in the intense sickness I felt, the visceral nature of my response.

Contrary to appearances–as well as what I said here–I am not, after all, planning on discontinuing the writing of this blog.

Firstly, I’ve been waylaid in my attentiveness to the project of posting the journal entries from my treatment, having reached no satisfying conclusion to this narrative.

But secondly, and more to the point, there is no satisfying conclusion to this narrative. In April I said, “I am anxiously awaiting the day when I stop writing about cancer entirely” — that “I do not want write this blog any longer. Or, not until the next time I encounter cancer, which I can only hope will be never.”

Yet I am constantly encountering cancer. It would be hopelessly naive of me to believe I could rid this from my life entirely, and move swiftly on to considering only 19th century American literature, as if returning from some awful Oz.

I’ve moved to Michigan now, and am in the dreadful process of trying to transfer my treatment to the University of Michigan Cancer Center. I say “process,” but in actuality I have reached a seeming impossible impasse with them, as I cannot get in touch with the hospital in London to locate slides and films which may longer exist in the first place. They will not admit me as a patient without them. So, right now, I am nobody’s patient. In a way I like the feeling of that–no hospitals on the horizon–except that constant patient-status for the rest of my life is absolutely essential.

Further to the persistent problem of pelvic pain, I had an ultrasound awhile ago (I didn’t realize until I got into the examining room that this was a transvaginal ultrasound, all in all a rather absurd procedure wherein they put a lubricated condom on a big fat wand and basically, well, fuck you with it). Last week I got a call from the physician’s assistant reporting no major abnormalities, but the gynecologist advised a uterine biopsy to rule out the possibility of the uterine cancer which could be a side effect of Tamoxifen.

I declined the invitation, as attractive as it sounded. I absolutely cannot deal with the thought of a biopsy right now. Moreover, the whole idea is rendered completely hypothetical, as I DON”T HAVE ANY DOCTORS HERE.

Back on the subject of the polka-dot skirt: I’ve had a kind of superstition about that skirt since; I can’t look at it without hearing “cancer,” hearing it applied to me. But I wore it today to the orientation meeting for my Ph.D. I’m terrified of this undertaking now, in the wake of the way the chemo ravaged my brain–the terrible problems with memory and concentration and articulation it’s left me with, which don’t lend at all well to a doctoral degree in literature. But this is what I mean–I encounter cancer & its consequences constantly.

We’re stuck with one another here, it seems.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under uncategorized

1 May 2009: Do I dare disturb my universe?

Ultrasound yesterday–how I’ve come to loathe the very word ‘breast’; it is so distasteful to me. And the fear of what they’ll tell me Wednesday–that the chemo isn’t working, that the cancer is growing. I was even taken aback yesterday when the tiny, cartoonish ultrasound technician asked, “Can you show me where the cancer is?” For it is a word you do not say because you are too ashamed.

Yesterday was full of despair–why can’t it all just stop, for once, etc? Better today–no hospital, for one thing, and blue sky. Sitting on the front steps amid mouse guts. Fear of fever and swine flu and poverty and loneliness.

Do I dare disturb my universe?

Desperate for perspective.

And happiness (though I do not expect to achieve it).

Leave a comment

Filed under treatment journal

Knock knock. Mammogram.

This morning I had a mammogram.

I thought — the last time I did this, I had two breasts.

I had an ultrasound as well, which resulted in a pseudo-PTSD flashback of the first time I had to have a breast ultrasound, shortly before the needle biopsy left me bruised and and bleeding and crying, riding home alone on the Tube, shocked and dazed and terrified.

Today, the doctor opens with, “I don’t want to scare you, but…” 

and ends with, “I’m sorry. You’re too young for this.”

The recommended course of action, apparently, is a screening every six months, alternating mammograms with MRIs. These tests are so panic-inducing, I’m not really sure I’m down with that.

Remember that old Saturday Night Live Land Shark sketch? The Jaws spoof with the shark knocking on the door: “Candygram.”

That’s what I feel like whenever I hear the m-word. That something sinister is lurking on the other side of the door.

 Knock knock. Mammogram.

Leave a comment

Filed under uncategorized