A recipe for living with cancer.

I had a team to help me.  Yeah Team!  A group of doctors, nurses, technicians who knew what to do to get me well.  And I could go to Japan. It was like this revolving train ride starting at discovery of cancer and ending at cure.  There were a bunch of scheduled stops along the way and all I had to do was get on and off the train as directed and I would reach my final destination.  Its funny, but I’ve had dreams over the past few years about train trips.  In these dreams I get on the train and then get off for some reason and then can’t get back on again.  In the dream sometimes I take a bus to get to a different train station and it’s always a stressful dream.  I always wake up thinking, why did I get off the train. I may have an answer now.

I became much more settled after the appointment with the Plastic Surgeon and started planning and packing for our trip to Japan.  When I go places for more than 4 days I start laying out clothes on the bed in our extra bedroom.  As clean laundry is done I add and subtract things, as I think about sight seeing and fancy dinners, I add and subtract things. I realize I need a black top and run out and buy one add it in and even after the bag is packed I will switch things out, put in an extra pair of socks, etc.   I think a lot about things mull them over, and Tom kept saying re the BC, don’t make any decisions yet, think about it.

I had a week to think a lot about Japan and BC. I started to think back about Mom and BC and how she had all her lymph nodes removed and how she suffered for 20 years with lymphadema.  Her arm swelled up and her fingers looked like sausages, she couldn’t use her hand and the skin peeled and cracked, it was painful, unsightly and just horrific.  She was not very good at keeping up with the massage and the sleeve and glove. Then that little voice in my head spoke up again, the breast surgeon said a mastectomy and removal of the sentinel and axillary lymph nodes.  Then I realized why I’d gotten off the train in the dream and why now I wanted OFF this train.

The BC therapy train had these stops: mastectomy with lymph node dissection, reconstruction, heal for 4-6 weeks,  then two courses of chemotherapy for 6 months, lose my hair and a year course of another chemo drug, then a pill once a day everyday for 5 years.  And then possibly deal with lymphadema for the rest of my life, every minute of every day…forever. No, they would not take out all my lymph nodes.  Tom bolstered my decision showing me a recent paper on the statistical survival outcomes between woman who have the nodes removed and those who did not– it is a  .1% difference.  I can live with that.



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