Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The view of my room; or what could be better than grade one, stage one

I don't know.  How about grade IA and stage one.

Yes.  Good news.  They got all the cancer.

I need to return for a check-up every six months for the next five years.  Feeling fortunate to have healthcare; happy that doctors were pro-active; lucky to experience the kindness, love, and good food folks have shared with me and the love of my life.

Oh, and note I did not mention all the yummy food that folks have shared with us.  Shoot, we've even had a friend stop by and mop our kitchen floor.  If that isn't an expression of love, I don't know what is.

I'm pooped but I wanted to share.

And for your visual entertainment here are a couple of pictures.

Sometimes it is all about the angle of the shot.  Here is proof.  This was a lovely, tasteful arrangement sent to my hospital room by the Women's City Club.  I can't begin to tell how this brightened the hospital room and my first meals of broth and red jello.

Thanks to Comadres Delfina, Hilda, Sandra, and Sylvia with floral additions from Carmen and Kathee.  I get to enjoy this view.  

I'm to take it slow for the next three weeks.  The view will help.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A double throwback

From an era where the colors were darker than I was (trying to be).
Sophomore or Junior year at Garfield High School, East Los.

From a time when I was glad to be here.
Last weekend, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, CA

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stage one, grade one - good news when it comes to cancer

Thanks all for your caring.  Back home.  Focusing on healing by resting this week.

Surgery was a success.  Folks at Huntington were superb.

 Don't yet know if I'll need chemo or radiation.  I'll have final details soon, but the initial report was as good as it could be.

Wrote this before I went in to hospital -


You come in alone
You go out alone
The rest is all bliss

Loving, fighting, learning
Gaining and loosing
Feeling all amiss

Crying, smiling, laughing with friends
Seeing a movie again and again
Despite knowing how it will end

No matter what’s next
I will remember

All is bliss

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Good morning

Good morning all - and it is a good morning.  This is James, posting for Roberta, who wants you all to know that the surgery went successfully.  And even better - the cancer news is as good as it could be.  No further spread was found, just a few lymph nodes excised to be further tested.  So the current prognosis is excellent.

She's in good spirits, beginning to take liquid food, in some discomfort but not unexpected.  No word as yet as to whether she'll be home today or tomorrow.

I'm sure Roberta will post more when she's able - but from me, a heartfelt thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, good wishes and help.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Hei ho

Hei ho, it's off to health, I go.

Thanks to all the good friends who have sent thoughts, cleaned floors, told me that I needed more texture in the room, offered consejos, helped me by taking time to sit with me or have offered help after the operation.

I'm so surrounded by caring and love.


See you soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

45 days - in just 23 hours

I'm writing fast so please forgive typos, grammar spills, and syntactical boo boos.

What a whirlwind!  It will have been 45 days from the appointment where I share with my ob/gyn sthat I did not feel right to surgery this coming Friday.  Longer than my friends had to adjust - two paragraphs isn't much time - but still a very short time.

Nothing prepared me for the generosity of spirit that I have experienced since I shared news of my upcoming surgery.  Kind offers of food, of shopping, of driving me to appointments.  And a couple of my beloved friends have come by to help me clean the house.  Was there ever such a gift as a kind hearts and elbow grease?  I think not.  At least in my world which is too often filled with dust bunnies.

Which sort of brings me to the point of this post.  Sharing is good.  Pretty simple, pretty powerful,  and sometimes so easy to forget.

Some of the simple gestures and simple bits of encouragement have included:
Information on websites that deal with uterine cancer and hysterectomies.  Who knew that there is a Hyster Sisters website?  Or that there is another site that is set for folks to coordinate meal deliveries?  There have been numbers of people who have shared "success" stories - survivors of similar sorts of cancer who have gone on to live long productive lives.  And others who have responded to the news by setting an appointment to see their ob/gyn or have decided to encourage a loved one to make that phone call.

I'm going into Huntington Memorial Hospital tomorrow.  Surgery is set for about 3:30.  If all goes as planned  3-4 hours later preliminary review of a frozen section will take place and sometime after that there'll be some news for this first part of the journey.  I'm hoping that the worst I'll be dealing with will be some stitches and gas.  Yes, I'll be tired, but I'll be putting my energy to healing.

With no complications I should be home sometime on Saturday.

A more detailed result of the section will be available about a week from tomorrow.  Hoping for the best.

I'll share info as soon as I can.

Most of us have gotten pretty far from barn raising, but the care and time that my friends have shared have helped to build a positive attitude.  And a positive attitude is a tool for fighting cancer.  In a way, my friends are helping me fight this cancer.  Thank you.

The offers of meals will allow me, extending to kith and kin, to relax a bit and deeply indulge in each other's company.  Being with each other and caring for each other can be some of the best medicine available.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Good news, bad news, mixed news...

Some posts are harder to write than others.  It can be that there are a lot of interruptions,  or that the topic is detailed, or that the thought is complicated and writing isn't the same as having a conversation face to face.  This post falls in the last category.

To cut to the chase it turns out I have uterine cancer.  You can re-read the sentence if you need.  As many times as needed.  (If you don't want to more more detailed info, feel free to go the last paragraph).

The symptoms that took me to the doctor were subtle; feeling a bit as if I was getting ready for my period, some discomfort and feeling of fullness, a little bit of back pressure.  As well as a bit of very, very light spotting.  I'm thankful that I'm of the generational experience where I was able to research what those small differences might mean.

I visited my ob/gyn, shared my concerns, and I was sent off to have a transvaginal ultrasound.  All looked well save the fact that my endometrial lining was considerably thicker than average for a woman who has gone through menopause.

Next step necessary - a biopsy

I had an endometrial biopsy a week ago Monday, not a pleasant procedure by any means.  Medical procedures that include words like dilation, insertion, and scraping are words that make me cringe, but as I got closer to the procedure I kept reminding myself that risking death and choosing not to go through an unpleasant procedure really was not a choice.

The biopsy results clearly showed cancer cells. Because I am fortunate and have good health insurance, that same doctor called an oncologist.  A date was set for me to meet the oncologist and the rest has all been about calendaring and paperwork.

In my mind much of the above has been good news.  I have a strong sense of what's the norm for my body, I have access to medical information, I have medical insurance, and to date have been interacting with medical staff that has been as kind as they have been thorough.

The bad news?  Well, cancer is never a good thing to have. Nothing I'd choose to have, but here it is and I don't much like that I have it.  Knowing that I have cancer has me thinking in terms of life and death.  Life choices to be made with one's third age is never easy.

Mixed news, Having surgery -not my first choice.  Hysterectomy?  Not so bad.  I'm 62.  I can't imagine being a woman who would choose to become pregnant at this age.  I love my kids, love my grand daughters, but the "bearing another child" work shift is over.  Thank you womb, you served us well.

Which begins to get me back to the good news.  I know, I know, I can hear some folks saying, wait woman, didn't you just write you have cancer?  Well, yes, I did.

But good news is relative.  So...

In general uterine cancer has a really great survivability rate.  A friend of mine referred to it as a Ferrari of cancers.  I know that attitude plays into this equation.  While cancer is now a part of my life, it is by no means the whole of my life.

I believe that visioning and setting goals helps one to achieve and accomplish goals.  I plan to get better.  My mother-in-law is a breast cancer surviver of 28 years.  I think of her as my role model.

Next bit of good news is that the hysterectomy will be a robotic surgery.  Rather than the one vertical incision I'll have five smaller incisions.  I've had surgeries before so the idea of a less intrusive surgery is most appealing.  A recovery time of two to four weeks is a preference to a recovery time of six to eight weeks.

I'll have five smaller incisions rather than a much larger one.  I've been kidding around and saying that I have a preference for polka dots.

The mixed news.  It seems that my cancer is low grade.  Is this case less is better.  This in itself is a good thing, but we don't know the stage yet.  Not knowing about the outcome of something this serious is a hard thing for me to view as good.

If I'm lucky the stage will also be low. Meaning the cancer will not have spread or been particularly invasive.  That will also mean that the surgery will not include removal of lymph glands in the pelvic area.

Part two of this mixed news is that it will take a full week after surgery to have final detailed results.  It will be a long week.

So there you have it.  I've been diagnosed with uterine cancer.  It was discovered because I know my body and because I go to my ob/gyn regularly and follow recommended testing.  I'm having a hysterectomy a week from tomorrow and will learn whether or not they will have been able to remove all of the cancer.