After Sophia’s second surgery, there was still some DCIS seen in the tissue taken from her breast. Her doctors were undecided on what to do next. The pathology report seemed to indicate that Sophia should either have a third surgery or radiation. Sophia’s oncologist wasn’t sure about the prognosis. Sophia’s oncologist and surgeon went to a special weekly meeting of Cedars Sinai pathologists, and other cancer specialists, where they apparently discuss borderline and difficult cases, like something they might do on “House.”
We waited and waited. This morning we got their decision —
NO surgery and NO radiation.
The DCIS is of low invasive-ness, and there doesn’t seem to be any immediate danger.
NO surgery and NO radiation.
Here Comes the Sun!
…well, hopefully. That’s no surgery and no radiation… for now.
The doctors still want Sophia to take a BRCA gene test. The BRCA gene test does NOT test for cancer, but rather for a cancer gene. Having the gene tremendously raises your chances of having breast cancer and some other cancers in the future. Sophia does not have a family history of any cancer, but she has three of the other indicators:
1) Breast cancer before the age of 50
2) Being of Eastern European Jewish descent
3) Getting cancer again, especially a different type
As of now, we’re not even sure of the next step. When the gene is present — the recommendation is to have a double mastectomy. A lot of women who never had cancer, but find that they carry the BRCA gene, have a double mastectomy and even a hysterectomy, just as a preventative measure. Many chose to not even take the test because they don’t want to do anything based on a strong “possibility,” and they don’t want to be worried for the rest of their life about breast cancer if the gene is found.
But let’s take it one day at a time. For now, it is good news.
NO more surgery and NO radiation!
Can you feel the relief coming off my words? I mulled over the next sentence for several minutes, wondering if it is true:
The last month or so has been the worst of my life.
That’s a pretty strong statement. Surely, there must have been a worse month. How about when I was studying for finals? Breaking up with a girlfriend? The death of a family member? No, even the passing of my father was more sad than stressful.
I cannot remember a time as stressful. I think my hair turned grey overnight. All the uncertainty was awful. Yes, I did sleep on the floor next to Sophia, for a night and a half. I did care for her. But I was frequently a shitty and resentful caretaker.
“Why can’t Sophia be calmer about things?” I would ask myself.
She cried too much. She was always in pain. She is still in pain.
“How am I supposed to accomplish anything with her acting like this… always being in pain?!” I said to myself, self-pitying. “When my mother had surgery once, she came home that night and made dinner!”
Sophia had trouble adjusting to one of her new medications. It made her so hyper, she couldn’t sleep for days. Is it my imagination, or do some medications just make you sick in new ways, so you have to take a second medication to cure your new ailments?
I’ve been depressed for weeks, the only joy coming from the sweet sounds of ABBA. I felt upset about Sophia. I felt upset about myself. I felt guilty for being upset about myself when I was supposed to be upset about Sophia. I avoided talking to friends in New York, or to my mother. A few nights ago, Sophia and I had a nasty fight, calling each other names. I don’t even remember the cause of it. It was terrible. I was pissed, and then I felt like a monster for being pissed at someone in pain.
I found it funny that some bloggers wrote to me, saying that illness can bring a couple closer together. I’d like to take exception to that rule. Laughter. Sex. Pizza. Vacation. Those bring couples together. Health issues do NOT bring people closer together. Maybe health issues can help you appreciate each other more, but if I had a choice, I’d rather go to Disneyland.
When I was growing up, my Pollyannish mother always used this cliche, “If you have your health, you have EVERYTHING.” It used to bug the shit out of me when she said this, because it seemed like such a “loser” attitude. “Well, duh!” I thought. “But what about having a lot of money, a good job, and a hot wife? Is that chopped liver?”
Well, maybe she’s smarter than I thought. That’s why she got the job as a mother.
This morning, Sophia called me from the bedroom. From the sound of her voice, I assumed she was pissed at something. Probably me.
“What?! What do you want?” I yelled.
I reluctantly dragged myself over to her. I was surprised to see her looking happy.
“Jump up and down,” she said.
“What for?” I protested.
“Just do it.”
I jumped up and down.
“Dr. Karlan just called. No surgery. No radiation.”
I jumped up and down again. Finally, some good news.