Let's Play Cross Cancer Tri-Bond!
What do these three things have in common:
Janet Jackson, Kim Kardashian, Guns N' Roses
They all connect to my recent Cross Cancer appointment. You can't make this stuff up I promise, truth is always stranger than fiction. Through this journey, I haven't had a foreboding sense of doom. Obviously, I'm not immune to the stress imposed when you go to a place such as the Cross Cancer to find out your future.
I'll be honest, for many years I couldn't drive past the building, it made me sick to my stomach. Every time I walked in there with a loved one we were told to go home and prepare for palliative care. Time does heal wounds. Eventually, our son even lived close to this hospital to attend University and the building became an object instead of a feeling.
I joked that these rooms should be set up like a therapist's room, comfy couch and a cup of tea offered...really it's the most stressful time of life and it's just sterile. A closet with two chairs and a bed.
Upon arrival, I'm asked to change into a hospital gown. With breast exams, you need to wear the gown tied up to the front. Obviously for ease of access. I'm fairly diligent in tying up both sets of strings and making sure it's secured well.
I change and make my way back to the waiting room. Fill out paperwork, then the nurse comes to get my husband and me.
We get up out of our chairs and as I hand her my paperwork I don't even feel a draft as she says to me: "Your gown is open and your breast is exposed." I freaking busted out laughing and said "Really there's no shame left anyways I'd walk this hallway topless at this point." Janet Jackson isn't the only one with a wardrobe malfunction apparently.
Tucked into our closet waiting for the oncologist to arrive we had visits from a pharmacist and a resident. Sometimes you really get tired of repeating yourself. And from contradictory information in both directions.
I have seen a naturopath and no he's not advocating to take essential oils and go on my merry way but if you look to Europe as a model of what works over there. The integrative approach is much more accepted and cooperative with modern medicine. What one person says is helpful for cancer the next will say don't take it. Ugh...
One genius creation by Alberta Health Services is the My Care Conversations App it is an app for your phone that will allow you to record the discussion with your doctor. It is protected from sharing online to social media etc. which protects you and the physician.
IT IS AMAZING FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN'T COMPREHEND ALL THE INFORMATION YOU GET THROWN AT YOU!
You can go back home when your calmed down to listen with your family or caregivers. Under less stress, you can hear what was said and make cognitive choices based on the information provided.
Now luckily for my oncologist, this convo is saved for posterity. The doctor walks in and says "Hi Kim".
My brain explodes, and I tell her my name is Lisa. Oh sorry, she says I'm not sure how that got mixed up, you've been referred here by Dr. Wasey...
WTF! I felt like I was maybe on the show Candid Camera at this point. No, I don't know which doctor that is. Cue chaos. She is trying to understand my name, my surgeon and I sure as hell hoped by this point what was wrong with me. Don't get me wrong I know doctors are human but wow!
Finally, we get this sorted out and actually begin to discuss my cancer diagnosis. She asks me to describe what I know about it in my own words. I have a deep base of understanding medical and physiological terminology so none of the pathology report reading has intimidated me. I explain in detail all that I know of my own disease. Stage 2 Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, no penetration of chest wall, ER+PR+ HER2-, Luminal A Type and one auxiliary lymph node was positive for metastasis.
She asks who explained this to me or what I've been told about the path forward. I told her no one and nothing. She's confused. My husband chimes in and says literally no one has told us anything. A path forward, treatment, staging etc. Other than what I have deciphered it's been a veritable guessing game.
My surgeon was an amazing surgeon, my incision line is precise with minimal scarring. Everyone who sees it comments on how good it is. Is she a great communicator? Not really. That's a trade I'm willing to make for quality surgery versus hand-holding in the doctor's office.
We discussed more in-depth how many tumours were removed and their size, which I had already read online. Then the path forward. We don't know....you are borderline. The deposit in your armpit was 2 mm on the pathology report but our pathologist thinks it's 1.9 mm. You're probably wondering why this 0.1 mm is so important. It determines if I get an Oncotype Test or not.
This test will tell the doctors how risky the reoccurrence of this cancer in my body in a nutshell. A score less than 25 means I don't need chemo or radiation but will need Tamoxifen for 5-10 years regardless of this test. Any hormone-positive breast cancer falls under this category of treatment using hormone blockers to stop the growth of new cancer.
I will "know" Friday if I qualify for the Oncotype Test if the pathologist deems my deposit small enough to send the tissue away to California for more testing. This takes two weeks.
Walking out of the Cross, heads swirling, exhausted, overloaded and frustrated I couldn't shake the feeling all the way home in the truck.
On one hand, I feel so much gratitude for finding this early, being diagnosed as Stage 2 and feeling hope for my future. On the other hand, I'd like to punch a wall with frustration at how hard it is to make progress within the medical system. 0.1 mm is all that stands between getting an important test done or not. If the test isn't done you are handed standard chemo/radiation which by the way isn't all that healthy for you either.
So here's where I let go on the way home and channelled my inner Guns N' Roses.
Patience...a little patience.
It's all a test, it's all a journey to walk and I will carry on.
I slept well and woke up ready to get on with life. Worked out, ice bathed and navigated the phone calls, forms and tests I need to complete in the meantime.
Sending You Love N' SUP,