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I wish I could say I took that bit of unfortunate news with my usual aplomb, but I was bummed.

I had expected only good news about how well the surgery had gone, not that I would have to start the process all over again! Yes, I was grateful that the invader hadn’t gotten as far as my lymph nodes, but also during that difficult conversation, Kristi told me I should start thinking about radiation and chemotherapy and suggested that I take Tamoxifen—for the next five years! It seemed I had the kind of cancer – estrogen receptive – that the drug might possibly stave off in the future. Like Scarlett O’Hara, I vowed to ponder these heavy-duty possibilities tomorrow. But despite my grogginess, I did summon up the strength to ask if the second surgery would further diminish my already diminishing right breast, and she held up her pinkie once again, “Yes, about this much.”

I highly recommend bringing along at least one friend or family member to these kinds of consultations. What I remembered of the conversation, greatly differed from what Iva and Michael heard that day. Thank goodness Iva took copious notes that I thoroughly perused later, which really helped my growing consternation and answered questions as they came burbling through my brain.

Kristi had given me the green light to bask in a warm shower, and while I soaped myself with a healthy Whole Foods oatmeal bar and studied her deft incisions, I thought hard about chemotherapy. I had already decided on radiation because according to various statistics, it cut the chance of the cancer coming back (in the radiated breast) a whopping 50%. I had avoided reading most of the horror stories on the Internet, because even Dr. Blechman thought I should grin and bear the high-energy high-beams. But chemotherapy? From what info I had gathered, the side-effects of the treatment might actually outweigh the benefits. I thought about wigs, bonnets, scarves and baseball caps, and certainly had more appreciation for my tinted red locks, as I shmushed my fave moisturizer through the suddenly glorious strands.

Mike came over and when I told him the latest, he assured me that it would all go as smoothly as it had the first time, soothing me temporarily. I had gotten a bee in my imaginary bonnet earlier and left Kristi a message asking about the upcoming surgery, and was on Mike’s lap when the phone rang, too joyously engaged to find out who was calling. When I listened to my messages later, Kristi’s perky voice guaranteed that this surgery was “nothing to worry about,” and was just to make sure “the margins were clear.” Hmmmm. This didn’t compute with what she had told me in the office. I checked with Iva, and she remembered Kristi saying that she had to perform another operation because the new lump she had found turned out to be cancerous. Still, my vivacious doctor’s assurance helped me make it through the night. Not to mention the fine help provided by Mr. Stinson.

I don’t know how the information got so mixed up. I even wondered if Dr. Pado had been looking at someone else’s chart when she called me, but when I arrived at Cedar’s for surgery, she told me she had removed the deadly little lump when she found it, and this operation was, indeed, just to make certain the flesh surrounding it was free of cancer. I didn’t even have to go all the way under, which was a relief, and again enjoyed that hummy-yummy Valium-drip buzz, and awoke to Kristi’s sun-tanned perfection, telling me that, hooray, I was cancer-free.

I was given a month to rest up before beginning my two month spate of daily radiation treatments, and after much poking about, I decided that my oncologist would be another woman doctor, Philomena McAndrew, because not only was she recommended by Kristi and Cedar’s, she had also worked with Dr. Jim and at least had an inkling about homeopathic/holistic medicine.

Since the cancer had been diagnosed and excised early, I had pretty much made up my mind not to put myself through chemotherapy or take the hormone medication, Tamoxifen, despite the fact that Dr.Pado said she would take it herself if she were in my position. Research taught me that some of the possible side effects were a higher risk of uterine and endometrial cancers, a bad-smelling vaginal discharge and dryness, (Ick!) sexual dysfunction, (unbearable!) blood clots /deep vein thrombosis, which my sweet mother had trouble with for many years — and strokes, another serious problem my mom had been faced with. I figured that since I had stopped taking hormones and planned on uncovering healthy ways to deal with this blasted disease, I would take as natural a route to healing as possible.

To Be Continued……….

If anyone reading this has anything she wants to say to Pamela, or share with us, please e-mail us at postmaster@dishmag.com

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 56 - September 2018
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