Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2010

Exactly one year ago I went in for a colonoscopy. That morning I had heard the news about Farrah Fawcett’s death from anal cancer. I’d been having some bleeding episodes, which was one of the reasons I was having a colonoscopy. While being prepped for the procedure, I nervously mentioned Farrah Fawcett to the doctor. He briefly told me that anal cancer was something quite different from colon cancer – that it was more like a skin cancer. He smiled and assured me I didn’t have it.

Next, I was in a small, curtained cubicle, still drowsy and recovering from the procedure when the doctor came in – no longer smiling. He told me they’d discovered a “villous adenoma” tumor in my rectum. He said he didn’t know if it was cancerous, but he believed if it wasn’t already malignant it would be soon. I was advised to see a surgeon…

Fast-forward to yesterday. I took my mother to the same Endoscopy Center for her colonoscopy. As they prepped her for the procedure, I looked around and realized I was in the exact same room where a year ago I’d been given the news about my tumor. It was rather surreal to stand there as they were taking Mom’s vital signs and inserting an I.V., all the while my mind was going back over all that has taken place since I was there last.

As they wheeled Mom away, I felt a little dizzy. I went back out to the waiting room and tried to read. Forty-five minutes later they called me back to the recovery area where Mom was just waking up. The doctor came to tell her that everything looked good, she’d had only a few tiny polyps, they didn’t expect anything other than a good report from pathology…Of course I sat there listening and was grateful for her results, yet I couldn’t help but also entertain a vivid memory of a very different discussion a year ago. Being in that little curtained cubicle again brought up a lot of unexpected emotions for me.

I got Mom home and settled. We had a small meal together and, when I felt sure she’d be okay alone, I left to drive home. It was raining. We’ve been waiting weeks for it to rain here, so it might have been a joyful moment. But I found myself feeling strangely sad.

Over the next few weeks I’ll have a series of “anniversaries” (the biopsy, being diagnosed, starting chemo and radiation…). I’m so truly grateful to be in good health again – really I am – and yet I’m wondering how best to navigate this season of “a year ago this” and “a year ago that.” I want to acknowledge and honor what I’ve been through, but I don’t need to wallow in it either. I think my experience yesterday at the Endoscopy Center was a small reminder: although I’m very happy to be alive and well, there’s still some emotional terrain ahead.

ArtfulShe Booth at the Artisan's Market

So you won’t think I’m spending all my time wallowing in the past, here are some pics of my recent exploits at the local arts and crafts markets. My booth was sure busy on Sunday at the Artisan’s Market.

It's all happenin' at ArtfulShe!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Mammogram Update

Wonderful news! Both Mom and I have gotten the results of our mammograms back and – drum roll please! – we’re both NORMAL!

Really, that’s the exact terminology – normal! I know there are those of you who might dispute the term “normal” being applied to me, so here’s proof:

Look, Mom, I'm NORMAL!

All joking aside, I’m completely grateful to receive yet another affirmation that I’m in good health. My “one year anniversary” of being diagnosed with cancer is just a couple weeks away – and what a year it’s been! Thankfully, I’m feeling better and better each day, and I have every intention of keeping it up!

Read Full Post »

June 11 was Grammy’s birthday (my mom’s mother). She would have been 103.

Mom and I “celebrated” Grammy’s birthday by going for our mammograms together. It’s been 13 years since Mom was treated for breast cancer.  Thankfully, she’s been cancer-free since then! She’s also been very good about going annually for her mammograms and follow-up visits.

I had my last mammogram about five years ago when I still lived in the Keys. Now that I’m on the “other side” of my colon cancer treatment, my oncologist, Dr. Fekrazad, has given me a plan for follow-up care that includes having a mammogram, a colonoscopy and a CT scan this summer. So, on Friday, I knocked off the easiest one on the list!

It seems mammogram technology has changed pretty dramatically since my last one. They’re almost all done digitally now. The technician at Santa Fe Imaging, where Mom and I went, told me they would be comparing these digital images with my previous film images and, more likely than not, they would be able to see much more than the film mammograms did. She cautioned me not to get jumpy if they should call me to come back in after they compare the new images to the old ones. She said if that happens it’s probably just because they’re able to see more “stuff” that they can’t compare to the old films. And, since I now have a history of cancer, they’re going to be extra cautious about anything they see.

The beautiful pink rosebush in my garden popped out its first blooms of the year just a week ago!

So, I’ll be sure to provide an update once Mom and I get our results back. I’m confident we’re both going to get good reports.

Since I’ll probably have to start going for annual mammograms like Mom does, don’t you think it would be a nice tradition for us to go for them together on Grammy’s birthday each year?

And, it sure isn’t lost on me what a beautiful thing it is that Mom and I are both here, and able to refer to our future in terms of “years.”  I’m so truly grateful for this wonderful gift we’ve both been given!

Read Full Post »

Prolapsed Stoma

Just when I thought I’d experienced pretty much everything I was going to with this cancer stuff.  Then, without warning, my guts are hanging out. Literally. (Yuck.  Even the name – “prolapsed stoma” – sounds disgusting!)

I’ve been doing really well lately, feeling better, gaining weight, keeping busy. Then, last Thursday I noticed my stoma seemed to be “sticking out” a bit more than usual. It was about time to change the ostomy bag anyway, so I went into the bathroom, removed the bag and – gasp! – there was about an inch of, well, intestine protruding out of my stoma. Let me just say this is not something you want to see (don’t worry, there are no photos for this post!).

It wasn’t painful, other than emotionally. I will admit I pretty much freaked out. I did have the presence of mind, though, to immediately phone my surgeon’s office. I got Dr. Brown’s nurse, Blanca. Usually she’s very helpful and sweet. Perhaps I caught her on a bad day. Between sobs, I described what was happening, and her rather un-sympathetic response was, “Well, that happens sometimes. If it gets worse, you should go to the hospital.”

I was choking back tears of panic. She asked me to hold a moment. When she returned, she said she’d been able to speak to Dr. Brown between patients and he suggested I lie on my back to see if the intestine would go back in on its own. She said he wasn’t too concerned if it was only protruding about an inch. If it got to be four or five inches, then I’d need to have it looked at.

I hung up in disbelief. My guts were literally hanging out and my surgeon wasn’t too concerned? However, I did as he suggested and laid flat on my back in bed for a while. It wasn’t long before the intestine began to sink back in (where it belongs, thank you!). While I laid there watching and waiting, I couldn’t help but think there has to be something symbolic about having one’s guts hanging out. But, for the life of me, I couldn’t come up with what it was.

When I finally felt like it was safe for me to get up, I went right to the computer and Googled “stoma prolapse.”

Not a good idea! I saw all sorts of gross photos of intestines popping out of stomas several inches and more. I tried to just read the text and not look at the pics, but it was impossible not to notice them. Besides, there wasn’t much explanation in the text that seemed helpful either.

Fortunately, my three-month check-up with Dr. Brown happened to be scheduled for today. I went to his office hoping to get some answers to my burning questions:

• What causes this to happen?

• What can I do to prevent it?

• Will I need surgery?

His answers were (in this order):

• Don’t know.

• Nothing.

• Hope not.

Okay, I may have paraphrased a little. Basically he said they don’t know why stoma’s prolapse, although he believes it’s often related to a stomal hernia. He felt around my stoma as I was reclining and then lifting up as in a crunch, and said he thought I might have a small stomal hernia forming. (Oh, joy…)

He said there was really nothing I could do to prevent another incidence of prolapse. And there wasn’t much I could do to prevent the hernia from increasing. He said, “You could lie on you back all the time and never use your stomach muscles, but I don’t think you want to do that…” And, as for surgery, he said he did not like to operate on stomal hernias unless it was absolutely necessary. Ditto for prolapsed stomas. If I had a persistent prolapse of many inches, he said we would consider surgery then.

Well, thank God for small favors! I am so disinclined to have more surgery (unless it concerns life or death), I was at least comforted by this last bit of info.

So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. And keep trusting that it was a one-time incident…or at least that if it should happen again it won’t be any worse.

I left Dr. Brown’s office and had a chocolate milk shake – to reward my inner cry-baby for not making more of this than need be.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Okay, I can’t stand not including a photo. So here’s one I took tonight of my new neighbor. His name is Billy.

My new neighbor, Billy. Isn't he adorable?

Read Full Post »