Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Anniversary

Hard to believe it's been two years.

Two years since I drove myself to the hospital. Two years since I was alone and scared, sitting and waiting for them to take me back beyond the swinging doors. Two years since I was transferred to the operating table, the staff chatting with me since they knew me from other operations. Two years since I was there then gone into that empty place you go when you have surgery... alone except for one soul I felt with me, keeping me from being scared.

Frightened is having an unknown, and someone there to hold your hand. Scared is doing it alone.

Two years since I felt that presence with me, until I came completely awake, so aware they were there, I asked the nurse when they had left, even though I knew the physical body was many, many miles away. Two years since I woke up, unable to talk, tubes and needles in my arms and hands, nurses adjusting levels and drips and giving me water. Two years since I felt the pad on my neck.

Two years since my doctor who was so wonderful said I had a malignant tumour. A big one. Two smaller ones. That he'd taken out my thyroid, along with it's evil twin.... that my lymph nodes were clean, that it hadn't entered my blood stream.

Two years. I went on to six weeks of waiting, one hour of treatment, a week of isolation and then my blessed meds. As I move on, more stuff shows up that is touched by the thyroid...high blood pressure, I can't retain calcium anymore (they took my parathyroid..oops!) an inability to control my body temperature, eventually heart issues... the thyroid is the little gland that can. But, you know, it's not cancer. It's not a relapse. I'm good with that.

It's Breast Cancer Awareness month... something we all need to check for, including men. I have one of the orphan cancers.. no ribbons, no races, no real funding. It strikes three times as many women as men, usually in their 20's. The older you are, the tougher it can be. Watch out for the symptoms... rapid weight loss or gain, hair loss, swollen ankles, trouble swallowing, a lump (my only symptom) being so tired.... Be proactive should you have any of these... it's a sneaky cancer, with TSH levels showing normal when you are actually ill. All of my blood results were clean the day of my operation, and I had Stage Two cancer.

I'd love to think cancer can be eradicated... Sometimes, I think they do have the cure, but, the drugs are so expensive, so many people have it, why cure something that generates so much money?

Buy cancer health insurance... I wish I had it. It's cheap, and you'll need it should you reach that dark place.

Cancer is second to love in the realm of scary words in any language. Be aware, be proactive. If you know someone with cancer, let them talk about it... listen. Bring food... bring yourself. It's not catching, it's just scary... and, when we are in recovery, when we are in treatment, when we are tired and struggling to simply get out of bed--food and company, even short term company, is appreciated. Show up! People tend to shy away... to convince themselves it's better to leave that friend or family member alone, let them rest.

Trust me, we'll tell you when you need to go. Cancer makes you very outspoken, no time for bullshit. Show up, help out... do a load of laundry, or change the bedding. Be there for us. When alone, the imagination runs wild... I used to swear I could hear the malignant cells trying to lure the good cells over to their side.. wearing cheap blue taffeta dresses and garish makeup... "Come on, big boy! Come to the dark side!"

Your body has betrayed you. It's turned on itself, eating itself. Why me? you think... what did I do to get this? (My cousins and I ran behind the DDT trucks... I've a feeling that's our source) There is anger and frustration at the waiting for treatment, irritation at paperwork and tests and the way you are suddenly weak, hair falling, so, sleepy. Breathing becomes a task.

Medicines and time in bed, and the fight to win the battle, the war. Do not be afraid, your love and friendship and concern are needed to shore up the sometimes overwhelmed loved one.

I know many with cancer right now... two of them had no signs, and suddenly, they are in serious shape. I have a friend whose mother is now in the battle. It's interesting that both women I worked with when I was employed by The Man also have cancer... The Godmother is back to work, and cancer free. The other found out she has 4th stage breast cancer... no signs, clear mammogram. My cousin, MV, has the same cancer I do, and her sister is being checked next week. It shows how prevalent cancer is these days.

Check, have tests done when you are at that age or if it runs in your family. Be conscious of your body, listen to it... then, be firm with the medical profession. You know your body, they don't.

Two years. It changed my life in a ton of ways, gave me new friends, let me weed out emotional vampires.

Remission is a happy, happy place... trust me.


austere said...

Thank you. For being there. For being Quin.
For being.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

Great post QB.

Bud said...

First I must say your feed is broken and I've been unaware you are posting. I'll try to fix it at my end.
Great post and I'm happy you are well but very sad you had to do that alone. I'm totally on the cancer watch bandwagon. Lots of it in my family.

harrietv said...

You are braver than I; I had family around me. I never had to go to chemo alone, even after I became comfortable with the staff. I always had family caring for me at home. And, somehow, I never said, why me? I always knew I would get better.

Which in no way changes your message: get checked. See your doctor. Know your body so you can notice changes that occur when you're not due for a checkup.

raino said...

wow. now this was an inspirational post. you put all of us weaklings to shame. healthy is a happy place. i can tell. heres to continued health.

ThomG said...

I, for one, am glad you did what you did for yourself - and are now telling others. The world is a better place with you in it.

the Constantly Dramatic One said...

Thank you for this post. That line, "You know your body, they don't."...yeah that one. Thanks for that expecially.

Mike Valentino said...

Yeah, they do have a cure. They have a cure for aids and plans for mass produced electric cars, but money makes the difference. I'm rockin' the pink wristband.

golfwidow said...

I can't tell you how glad I am that you're still here.

vinny said...

You must be sicken tired of hearing congratulations or god bless you or.. all the other ones.

But it's great to hear the wore remission as you said, and thanks for sharing the experience. From beginning to end, and now a new beginning to better things.

Quin Browne said...

belated but, oh, so, thankful for all the thoughts, words, dear comments.

Prince Gomolvilas said...

How far you've come. A good thing. :)

Peter Varvel said...

Thank you for this excellent post.
Happy Anniversay, Friend.
I love you!

Quin Browne said...

aw, my la guys! it is, isn't it, prince?

and pv? i love you, too...

TC said...

I wrote a really long, not socially retarded comment only to have blogger eat it. Sigh: I'm not lucking out much today on commenting.

This was an amazing post. I'm sorry you had to suffer through all of that. I've always said that I wish we would find a cure for Cancer before anything else, though I know it's so broad it's hard to encompass it all. AIDS can be prevented in so many cases, but not cancer.

I'm glad you're in your happy place, and I hope you never have to leave it.

Anonymous said...

amazing post. thanks for sticking around!

Coast Rat said...

Very inspirational post, my friend. The longer and better I get to know you, the more I love you!

Happy Anniversary! Hope there are many, many more!