February 25, 2010

stop hogging all the cancer

One of my undergrad friends sent me a message on Facebook tonight about the whole cancer sitch, closing with this line:

"And stop hogging all the damn cancer."

I love it! Thank you, dear, for making me laugh. Really, really loud.

February 23, 2010

hysterectomy at 34? be grateful, i say

My original life to-do list sounded something like this: go to college, find a job, move out of New Jersey, get married, have kids. Oh, and travel. Lots.

As you can see, a hysterectomy at 34 years old definitely wasn't included, but here I am, facing one in April. Oh yeah, and "get cancer - twice" didn't make the cut either, but apparently I'm extra blessed in that department, so melanoma and uterine cancer made it into v2 of my life's to-do list. (Updated 12/7/10 to include cancer a third time overall, second time this year. Yay!)

There's been a lot to take in, with medical decisions, life, work, and everything else in between. Taking a moment to jot down what I'm grateful for:
  • Palm Springs Cuties who opened their home to us this weekend so we could have a much-needed getaway to unwind. Even though we planned the dates months ago, before any of this happened, the timing ended up being perfect. We brought Rowan with us (she's the boxer on the left) and she played all weekend with the boys' two dogs, Leilani and Sage. IT Geek still has a relaxed glow about him.
    Rowan, Sage & Leilani (L-R).

  • DJ Diva, who sent me "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" - a book that delves into how women can "change the basic conditions of their lives...to create vibrant health with far fewer medical interventions." She highly recommends it, so I look forward to reading it.
  • IT Geek, who's handled everything with wit and compassion.
  • Nurse Mom, who's flying out from Jersey for 2 whole weeks to be here (though, as IT Geek pointed out, it's as much a vacation from my father as anything else...and we have a casino less than 20 minutes away, so it's really a win-win-win for her).
  • Will, my BFF, who told me tonight he's coming down from San Jose to take care of me once my mom leaves (someone's gotta take Rowan out to pee...there's no way I'm going to be rappelling stairs multiple times a day a mere 2 weeks out of surgery). He's the Will to my Grace, and the most superb Card Carrying Friend of Dorothy best friend a retired hag could ask for.
    Unicorn love.

  • Coworkers who just keep on giving. I can't begin to express how beyond awesome they've been in all this. I have the best team on the planet, hands down. (Case in point: they sent me a get well email with themselves as unicorns. Try to top that. I dare you.)
  • Cards, flowers, phone calls and emails, especially the ones that simply say, "Hey, just wanted to let you know I'm thinking about you." So cool.
  • Qantas Airlines, who are refusing to grant a refund for our Australia trip in May. (I won't be cleared to fly by then.) They said the only way they "give a refund is in the case of death of the passenger, and even then (they) require a death certificate." I'm grateful because this means I get to polish up my letter-to-the-CEO writing skills. If you know me, you know the results I get from such letters. Cause, you know, instead of focusing on my health what I want to be doing right now is begging an airline to talk to me like a human being instead of reading from a script, and realize that sometimes life deals folks shitty cards. Trust me, Qantas, I'd much rather be jaunting around Australia and New Zealand in May instead of recovering from having my uterus ripped out. Poorly played Qantas, poorly played.
  • And, of course, to all of you here -- either friends, family, or new acquaintances -- who have left comments on the blog. Your kind thoughts and encouragement make me smile!

There's a whole nother bunch of reasons to be grateful to no longer have my female bits (including not having to deal with labor pains, no more periods, more space in our bathroom cabinets due to new lack of feminine hygiene products), but the above is enough sappy crappy for one post.

Off to watch The Daily Show.

February 19, 2010

i'm getting spayed

Yes, those are oven mitts. On the stirrups of the Gynocological Oncologist's exam table. I nearly peed myself laughing.

Talked to Dr. Man yesterday, and went over a bunch of options, ranging from "radiation-keep the uterus" to "take it out, plus your fallopian tubes and ovaries."

In the end, after long conversations and pros and cons, we decided to spay me. Surgery's set for Monday, April 12, which is superb because that gives my mom plenty of time to get a plane ticket to come out and give me lots o' love (and tell me to suck it up and not whine so much. Ah, the life of being an RN's daughter).

February 17, 2010

luck of the irish

Good news: we caught it wicked early.

No bueno news: "it" is Stage 1 cancer of the uterus for sure (see "Good news").

Good news (more): Stage 1 is WAY better than stage 3 or 4! Sweet!

I guess the eternal optimist in me thought that perhaps we'd get back a diagnosis of, "The first reading was a false positive" or "Remember how we scraped you raw like a fat kid scrapes a pint of Ben & Jerry's? Well, we got it all!"

Alas, no such luck. But of all the bad news to get, the silver lining of this bad news is that it's Stage 1. Stages 3 or 4 would've sucked major ass, but Stage 1 I can deal with.

Tomorrow we meet with the doctor from the BigHMO Department of Whacked Out Cancerous OB-GYN Craziness (there's some more technical name for the department, but that's the gist of it from what I recall), and I'll post another update after that.

February 11, 2010

not so much a mac truck as a matchbox truck

Of course I had to crack a joke as they wheeled me into the OR:

Dr. Nice Lady: How's everything feel?
Me: Those lights look like my ovaries.
DNL: What? Huh?
Me: Those OR lights, they look like my ovaries.
DNL: Oh! PCOS. Yes, Kara, the lights look like the cysts on your ovaries. Hahaha.

Surgery went well.

I must say, I expected to feel like they'd backed up a Mac truck into my uterus and knocked it around. Instead, my post-op crampiness is more akin to a Matchbox truck.

I'm all set up on the couch, chilling with books I've meant to read. The fantastic part of it all is Rowan and Xander are PetSmart PetsHotel until tomorrow night so I can rest.

Dr. Nice Lady said we should have results within the week.

cleaning house today

Check-in's at 10 a.m. for my DnC today.

Since I'm sure I'll be riding the Percocet Pony after surgery, I'll most likely just send a quick tweet out to let you know things are okay (you can follow me on Twitter @californiakara).

February 9, 2010

my mother-in-law ftw

Apparently, most people detest their mothers-in-law. You've heard the jokes, and some of you even have those horrid creatures in your life. Before I was married, I wondered what kind of lady I'd get.

Lucky for me, I hit the jackpot. :)

My mother-in-law kicks ass. Not only is she an amazing cook, the woman loves laughing to a good story or joke...whether she's telling them or hearing them.

The first time I met KAMIL (kick-ass-mother-in-law), she and Adorable Father-in-Law (AFIL) were visiting from the colonies. IT Geek and I were friends at the time, and he took me down to hang out with them at their hotel. They were chilling in their room by the bay, and there was immediately a feeling of ease, like I'd known them my whole life.

That's how it's been ever since. With both of them, you can always count on good food, good times, and lots of caring.

Cut to yesterday...when I got home IT Geek informed me there was a non-descript, white package waiting for me from a place called The Friends of Mel Foundation. I opened it up, and there was a purple box inside.


"What the hell?!" I said incredulously, "how do they know already?"

Tucked in the back of the box was a pocket, and in it was a gorgeous bracelet, covered in Swarofsky crystals and beads.

Then I recalled KAMIL saying, the first time we chatted after I'd been diagnosed, "Have you heard of Mel's bracelets?"

When I said, "No" she immediately changed the subject, and I forgot about it until I saw the bracelet.

THEN I felt like a total smacked ass, because I realized this beautiful bracelet was a gift, and what a wonderful story lay behind it.

It's been on my wrist ever since. It's purty! I heart her. :)

February 4, 2010

operation: kick cancer's ass

I've got uterine cancer.

There, said it. I don't tear up so much when I type it (though I still got a little choked up when I said it out loud at Toastmasters this morning).

Here's where we are:
  • Surgery's next Thursday, February 11. We're going to start with a DnC to scrape out as much of the bad cancer as possible.
  • After the surgery, we'll know where I fall in Stages 1-4.
  • If they get all the cancer, yay!
  • If not, we go back in in a few weeks to do a full hysterectomy.
I've begun telling friends slowly, and my team at work. What I'm telling everyone is: it's going to be okay. I've beat cancer once before, and I can do it again. If it makes you feel better to send me articles or tell me about your friends/family who've had cancer, that's okay, too.

Don't worry, there's nothing you can say to me that's wrong. In fact, be insensitive! Make me laugh! My primary goal is to make sure me talking about it doesn't make you uncomfortable. We'll get through this together.

If you've got some time on Thursday, feel free to send some positive vibes toward San Diego. :) For those who've already asked, yes - phone calls and visitors will be welcome. The doctor expects my recovery to last through the weekend, with back to making taxes easier by Monday.

February 2, 2010

i'm abnormal...go figure

Dr. Nice Lady called Monday night with the test results. Unfortunately, I was in a meeting and by the time I was able to call her back it was after hours.

Monday night sucked, because I could tell by her tone she wasn't calling to tell me I won a pony. About 5,000 wonderful things ran through my head, like "Wow, my maternal grandmother died when my mom was 16, is she going to lose her daughter, too?" and "How will John pay the bills and can he keep the house if I'm not around."

You know, happy thoughts.

There were a couple of good cries, mainly around how I always wanted kids, and how crack whores on welfare can have 20 of them...I just wanted one. With the crying out of the way, I tried to get some rest.

I called first thing Tuesday, but Dr. Nice Lady wasn't in, so I made her assistant tell me what was up. She said the tissue I passed was okay (it was an infarcted polyp), but the biopsy came back "abnormal." She couldn't tell me anything else, but promised to have DNL call me as soon as she got in. A little bit later, she called and asked how quickly I could get down to her office.

Not good.

We rushed down to her office. Turns out the biopsy looks like endometrial cancer (aka cancer of the uterus). The next steps include a a DnC (as my mother, the RN, aka Nurse Mom, calls it: a Dust N' Clean) next week, and that'll let us know what stage it is (1-4). Depending on how bad it is, I'll most likely win a lovely, all-expenses paid trip to The Land of 30-Something Hysterectomies.

Of the cancers to get, DNL said uterine is one of the best (as opposed to my earlier bout with melanoma, which is one of the worst). This one's contained in the baby-makin' area, so it rarely spreads out into the rest of the body. That's cool.

I am grateful for a bunch of things, including acupuncture, which worked at getting things moving in the first place! Many thanks to my East Coast friend Usability Chick, who was so in love with the acupuncture place after getting a foot massage there that she gave me a gift certificate to it...which led me to getting one, too...where I met AccuBabyMaker and began acupuncture...who got all my energy, chi, and blood flowing...which led to the polyp passing...which led to the biospy...which led to the cancer diagnosis. Usability Chick and AccuBabyMaker saved my life!

So let's focus on other positives:
  • As DNL pointed out, without kids, we can afford to take three cruises a year, which is a nice life.
  • As Nurse Mom pointed out, if we really want a kid we can always fly down to Haiti and pick one off the beach.
  • Without a uterus, that means no having to give birth...which means I can detour the having to go through labor thing (which has always been something I wanted to avoid in the event I got pregnant).
  • If they end up taking out my uterus, then they might as well take out the pesky PCOS-laden ovaries...which means no more hair in unwanted places - BONUS!
The DnC is next Thursday, and we'll know more after that. I'm scheduled to go to SXSW in March and Australia/New Zealand in May, so of course BigHMO will have to fit the surgeries in between them because there's no way I'm canceling either.

Oh, and that big freakin' deal at work: April 15.

As Nurse Mom said, "You have April 16th to December 1st to get sick and pull this shit now?!" I heart her.

Does this suck ass? Yes. But we're focusing on the positive and trying to find the humor where we can.

(I know the Haiti joke is tasteless...my mom was just trying to make me laugh, and you know you chuckled before you realized you probably shouldn't be. We've explored adoption in the past, and we're very much open to it. Right now, we're just focusing on getting through this part.)