Thursday, April 4, 2013

*insert expletives here*

"Unfortunately, we did find some cancer cells."

*insert here the expletive of your choice"

And now you're all caught up.

I had a lunch date today with some of my favorite ladies, the young clergywomen group I'm a part of that meets monthly for lunch. On the way there, I got a call from a blocked number, which usually is the doctor. Nervously I listened to the voicemail. In fact, it was the jeweler, telling me our wedding rings have arrived! Joy! I went into lunch happy as a clam.

After we ordered, the phone rang again, another blocked number. I took it, knowing this time must be the doctor. It was. How was the wound? she wondered. I told her. Then, "Do you have a minute to talk?" This is never a good way to start. Then the above line. This poor woman is the same doctor who did the last biopsy that turned out to be cancer, so she has now had to break the "you have cancer" news to me over the phone twice. 

It's DCIS again, ductal carcinoma in situ, with some lobular carcinoma in situ thrown in for good measure (also just like last time). This is in the location that initially concerned them back in July, the place that had atypical hyperplasia, which Dr. Skinner had described to me as, "not cancer, but two steps down the road to cancer." (The two steps are 1) hyperplasia - extra cells growing, and 2) atypical - they aren't normal cells.) Turns out she was right: that part of my breast was on the road to cancer, and I've never been one to dally, so here we are.

This is not a recurrence, to my understanding. This is an independent cancer development, the same kind as before, but only related insofar as both were presumably caused by radiation treatments back in 1999. So, you could say, this is my third time getting cancer. Well, good for me. Ever the over-achiever.

Next step: I will meet with my surgeon, Dr. Skinner, on Wednesday next week. Maybe she will enlighten me with some information I don't already have - surely she'll go over the pathology report. But I have a hunch she will tell me what I already know: I need to very seriously consider getting a mastectomy sooner rather than later. 

UGH what an ugly word. What a terrible word to offer a young women who is getting married in 4 months - soon enough that if I had the surgery right now, including reconstruction, I would just barely be recovered in time to fly to CA for the wedding, but far enough away that that's a pretty long time to let cancer grow before taking it out. (Although DCIS is pre-cancer, and some studies show that it could very well go untreated and never develop into anything more... but we just don't know, so they generally err on the side of caution and treat it as a true cancer.) What a terrible word to offer a woman who is eager to fulfill her lifelong dream of having children, and who is Oh So Close to making this a reality with a man she adores! What a terrible word to offer a woman who has so many exciting things planned for her churches: a new member class beginning this week with several families ready to attend and join, confirmation just a month away, Vacation Bible School being planned for the summer, a bunch of kids ready to go to confirmation camp... then WHY this??? Again, I'm struck with this frustration at God for throwing this mess into a really promising ministry! I thought you wanted me to do this!! We did this lame cancer thing once - isn't that enough?

I have been through every scenario in my head. 1) Ignore it. It never happened. Nothing more will develop. You'll be fine. (I admit, this is where I am really am right now.) 2) Sign up for surgery ASAP. Get it over with for goodness' sake. (God, no. Refer to nightmare in earlier post.) 3) Get a lumpectomy... but leave my poor boobie looking deflated, deformed, and depressingly undersized. Hardly worth it. 4) Get married now. We have the rings, after all. Keep the ceremonies as planned, but get the legal stuff out of the way for insurance reasons and so Michael can live with me while I recover. This is a more realistic option now than it was before, I admit. Then maybe I could enjoy some, er, time with my husband, enjoying that relationship, before I take off my front parts. But what happens if I get pregnant, like we both so long for? I get a mastectomy while I'm preggers? I think not. Man alive this sucks. My sweet friends have pointed out there are ways around the logistical concerns like insurance and care-taking (a line of friends and two congregations ready to take care of me for example - such a blessing!), but my biggest resentment right now is around my deep desire to just enjoy my life as a married woman for goodness' sake! Must it be tainted with this blasted cancer from the very get-go?! *screams and kicks things* *Klaus runs from room* *Klaus returns to love on me and lick my tears.* *Good boy.*

I'm raw. I'm pissed. I'm sad. I'm resentful. And I can't help but think about this line from the Passion According to Luke. This line choked me up at both services (and both rehearsals) as we proceeded through our dramatic reading of the Passion, but now how much more so:

But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.”  (Luke 23:28-29)

Blessed, huh? Prove it.

And with that, I need to go. No more to give this night.


  1. Oh, Johanna.
    I have so, so, so, so many expletives to offer you.
    I am so sorry.

  2. Johanna, I send my "oh f_(k" as well as a HUGE HUG, and more love, and prayers for you and Michael.

    Prayers and love,


  3. Sometimes there aren't expletives strong enough to represent my feelings. Love you, and Michael both. If Cancer were a person I would punch them. I'll say some prayers for you.

    Andrew P

  4. Thinking of you. Sending you hugs. Swearing at that damn C word like a sailor.
    Much love surrounds you. Let it envelope and hold you and give you strength.
    Keeping you and your decisions in my prayers.

  5. Many expletives, love, and prayers, Jo. - Kathleen

  6. sending you and the familia prayers...rant on god, she can take it. may you be filled with whatever you need to get through this, please let us know if you need anything. un abrazo, delfin