Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Cancer Broadcast To Bring You This Breaking News

I'm sure many of you have been waiting to hear how it went with Nathan's first day of chemo, however, I must deliver some more bad news before we get to that.  On Wednesday, February 23rd, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Yes, me too.  Cancer.  That's right, read it again.  Nathan AND Elisa have cancer.  TOGETHER.  LIKE NOW. 

If you have burst out laughing or crying, congratulations.  You have just had one of the two most popular reactions to this news.  Oh, other popular reactions are:  "WTF?", "NO!", "You're joking, right?"  Personally, I went with laughter.  I guess I'm in the denial stage of grief.  Since Nathan has been working through the stages since last week, he went straight to jaw-clenching anger. And who could blame him?  It's completely absurd.  What couple gets cancer at exactly the same time?  I mean this brings empathy for what one's spouse is going through to a whole new level.  But that's me, I'm a feeler.

You may be curious as to how we even know I have cancer. Here's the short version.  I may post a longer version at another time but I have been writing it for 3 days and I'm still not done so here's the bottom-line.  Late 2010, I feel a lump in my right breast.  December 2010, my midwife feels lump and writes Rx for mammogram to be done after I finish breast-feeding.  January 13, 2011-I finish breast-feeding.  February-I schedule mammo.  Monday, February 14th, 2011, Nathan gets his diagnosis.  Friday, February 18th, 2011, I have mammo (actually 3) and 2 ultrasounds and the radiologist is "worried" and orders 3 biopsies for the following week.  Monday, February 21st, nothing happens because it's President's Day.  Tuesday, February 22nd, they schedule biopsies for Wednesday.  Wednesday, February 23rd, I have 3 biopsies- a fine needle aspiration (FNA) of the lymph nodes, an ultrasound guided core biopsy and a stereotactic core biopsy.  The 3 procedures take all afternoon.  We start around 12:30 and are done around 5 pm.  The radiologist, Dr. Chorr, doesn't want to say anything about the results but she's been in contact with the surgeon, Dr. Hiotis, and Dr. Hiotis is waiting to speak with us.  Dr. Hiotis consults with pathology, gives me a breast exam and then brings us into her office.  Nathan and I are holding hands and Dr. Hiotis says, "It's cancer and we're going to handle it."

Nathan squeezes my hand. The air rushes out of the room.  She knows our situation.  Everyone in that department knows.  We had told Dr. Chorr when she was "worried" that it had already been a bad week and why.  I could tell throughout the day that she was really hoping she'd been worried for no reason.  She has a 5 month old baby at home and I had told her about Sadie.  How tragic was this!  A young couple with a baby at home, both diagnosed with cancer less than 2 weeks apart.  Truly tragic.  Absurd.  Unbelievable.  Unfathomable.  Un-everything. 

We asked a million questions, a perk of just having learned the million questions to ask when one is diagnosed with cancer.  However, we don't have the big answers yet.  We don't know what stage it is or if it's spread.  The rest of the pathology reports take 4-7 days to come back.  Dr. Hiotis ordered a full body MRI for Monday and on Friday I will have a PET scan.  Hopefully, by the end of the week we'll have the full story.

I started writing this post when I was still in the fully amused stage of this news but I can tell you that I am no longer amused.  This sucked before but now it really sucks.  I wish I could write every day but often I feel so sucker-punched by all this that I barely have enough energy to make it to our bed before passing out.  So I apologize for lengthy posts which may be heavy on the details and light on the humor.  They can't all be Pulitzer Prize worthy. 

Wish us luck tomorrow.


  1. Hi. I've was carrying Nathan on my shoulders last week. Now I've added you. I am so sorry. I started my own journal the day I got the diagnosis. I also began with humor because I was told I had 'the best kind of cancer', fancy that. I went right on to writing a musical. Donna helped with song titles. The Bald Soprano won first place for the name of the musical(on this night of the Oscars), a musical stretched out from The Sopranos about Edie (?) enduring chemo (Thank you L.S.) Sense of humor is a must-have.

    Be strong, be arduous in your research, double check everything. You have both been inducted into a private club that you didn't sign up to join. You are on a journey that you don't want to take. Millions of others of us are on the same trip. You are smart and talented. Maybe your blog will become a film. Exploration of the cancer warrens is a unique journey. If there is anything I can do, ask. Sending strength and love to you both. xx

  2. after reading your posts for a good two hours i randomly chose to comment on this one, which is ironic since the above comment mentions "the bald soprano", which is what i should have been reading tonight for class tomorrow and will now not have read and sit awkwardly quiet and nodding along while the class discusses the story...oops.

    but i don't regret it one bit.
    i am a former student of Nathan's, and just want to let you, Nathan, and Sadie know that you are all in my constant thoughts and prayers, and i'm incredibly inspired by your courage. my mom beat her battle with breast cancer and i'm convinced that a big part of it had to do with her positive attitude. try your best to stay positive. i know it will be tough, but know that you have hundreds of believers behind you!

    all my love and prayers

  3. Why is there no accurate screening device for young breast cancer and no screening device for ovarian cancer, but there are 100's of drug commercials that purport to improve bone density, once the cancer has chewed through bones like gnawing hungry termites turning the bones into snapped twigs.
    Where does all the money from the pink ribbon crusades go, young women with cancer are getting f---ed and forgotten. It's 2011 in the USA and the medical community can't screen for cancer in women 45 and under, what the hell? It has to be changed, women are being crushed by female cancers where they should live to old age with their grandchildren.

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