Category Archives: cancer

Circus (And A Giveaway!)

Perhaps you’ve heard the term Thanksgivukkah?  Or Christmukkah?  How about Thanksgivukkahbirthmas?  Yeah, this time of year, we have Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Dylan’s birthday, and Christmas.

When I was pregnant with Dylan, my actual due date was December 24th.  When he came early on December 6th, I thought, Phew, I dodged the Christmas baby bullet!  I was an idiot.  When you have a family that celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas, any birthday between Thanksgiving and the New Year is a holiday baby.

We hosted a successful Thanksgiving dinner at our house (cooked with a lot of love and just as much butter), and we’ve lit the menorah seven lovely nights so far.  We also bought our first real Christmas tree, and it smells amazing!   So far so good for this most busy stressful anxious wonderful time of the year, right?

Next up is Dylan’s 7th birthday party bonanza at the ice skating rink this weekend and a blizzard themed bingo night at Dylan’s school next week for which I am the event co-chair.  There are way too many items on my to do list for these events, but it will all get done, right?  After the birthday and bingo bashes, we’ll plow ahead to Christmas and the New Year, but smack in the middle of it all, there’s the itty-bitty dilemma of the basal cell carnimona on my face.  Carcinoma is another word for cancer.  On my face.

Remember the bandage?

bandage

Well, the biopsy came back malignant.  It’s basal cell carcinoma, and according to my dermatologist, it’s “infiltrated” (i.e. deep).  It’s not melanoma.  In other words, it’s not going to kill me.  But it’s still cancer.  Deep.  On my face.

Cancer on my face for Christmas. (You shouldn’t have.)

Cancer looks for me, I swear.  It seeks me out, which is why I go to a team of doctors regularly and why I have thyroid ultrasounds that reveal concerning nodules and colonoscopies that reveal precancerous polyps and annual skin checks that uncover “infiltrated” basal cell carnimoma.  I’m sensitive, yes, but I’m also the girl who once got pregnant and ended up with cancer in her uterus instead.

This too shall pass, but in the meantime, it feels like a kidney stone.

December is a wonderful time of the year, especially when I see the joy on my boys’ faces when the Christmas tree is lit up and when they light the Hanukkah menorah candles all by themselves.  But December is also busy and dark and expensive and endless.

The holiday cards need to go out and teacher gifts need to be purchased and the birthday cake (for the ice rink party) needs to be picked up and the cookie cake (for the school party) needs to be ordered and the cake plates and napkins and forks need to be bought and the inflatable hockey stick party favors must be inflated and the blizzard bingo decorations need to be delivered and the winter music needs to be downloaded and the menorahs eventually need to be put away and the Christmas presents need to be bought and wrapped and hid and the house needs to be cleaned up and out because Terminix finally gave us a date in January to finally tent the house to finally get rid of the termites scheming to swarm again in the spring.

And Harry.  My Bo Berry is still gone and I still listen for him when my keys jingle at the front door and I still think of him when I stumble upon a leftover hamburger in the refrigerator and I still get sympathy cards (and bills) from the doctors who treated him and his remains are ready to be picked up and I have no idea what to do with them or where to put them or how or if to tell the kids about them because how do you explain remains to children?

And the cancer on my face.  I have basal cell carcinoma and it’s deep and I need to have Mohs surgery and a plastic surgeon needs to close the wound and there will be a scar and the thing is that I’m still having a hard time with Everything.

I feel buckets and buckets of gratitude under all of It.  Underneath Everything.  I promise, I do.  Like when Dylan winks at me (thanks to Kevin McCallister from Home Alone) and when Riley gets so mad but laughs hysterically when I accuse him of having a monkey in his belly (he does!).  There’s a truth, too.  Cancer doesn’t look for me.  I know this.  I’m not that special.  And, of course, the lesson.  Go to the doctor, Mamas!  Take care of yourselves!  But right now life feels like a freakin’ circus.

Speaking of which…awkward segue in 3-2-1…the circus is coming to town.  Seriously.  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Built To Amaze! show rolls into Miami in January, and I’m giving one lucky winner four tickets to the show on Saturday, January 11, 2014 at 3pm at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL.

Color Hi-res Logo

Ringling Ringmaster

See, I told you it would be an awkward segue.  Nonetheless, I’m excited about this giveaway because free stuff is fun, I’ve never taken my kids to the circus, and I think it will be hilarious to take the kiddos to the big top when there’s circus tent covering my entire house.

All you have to do to enter to win the tickets is leave a comment here on the blog telling me why you like the circus and/or if you’re afraid of clowns like I am (damn Poltergeist!).  You can also comment on the circus that is currently my life, but please clarify if you also want to enter to win the circus tickets.

Do not enter if you cannot arrange your own transportation and/or lodging.  Winner will receive circus tickets ONLY.   

The deadline to enter is midnight on Friday, December 13th.  After that, I will pick a winner at random. 

Good luck!  Ha!  Get it?  Unlucky Friday the 13th?  Ha! 

(Seriously.  Good luck.) 

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Filed under anxiety, boys, cancer, Christmas, circus, colonoscopy, gratitude, Hanukkah, holidays, Thanksgiving, thyroid

Left and Right

The chemotherapy I had after my molar pregnancy was given by injection.  Every week for eight weeks, I had a shot in my left and right  buttocks.  Every week.  Left and right.

The left side never hurt, but the right side was excruciating every single time.  After a few weeks, my entire body winced in anticipation of the injection on the right side.

I’m sure there was a medical explanation for it, that there was a nerve or something in the way.  To me, though, it represented perfectly the internal struggle I had with my situation.  With wanting a baby and getting cancer in my uterus instead.  The left side surrendered.  Shit happens.  The right side fought like hell.  How could this happen to me?  The left side accepted the situation.  Let’s just get through this.  The right side rejected it.  Are you fucking kidding me?  The left side wanted to move on.  The right side wanted to wallow in it.

It felt good sometimes – a lot of the time, actually – to be miserable (right), but at my core, I wanted to persevere (left).  I’m proud to say that I did, but not without a struggle.  Not without an exhausting back and forth between the two sides.  Between the left and the right.

Earlier this week, I went to the endocrinologist for a follow-up ultrasound on my thyroid nodule.  The good news is that it’s still very small.  The bad news is that it’s dark in color and has blood flow.  These attributes don’t necessary mean the nodule is malignant, but it would be better if these attributes weren’t there.  Per my doctor’s recommendation, I’m having an fine-needle biopsy done next Thursday afternoon.

Although thyroid nodules are common, thyroid cancer is rare.  According to the Mayo Clinic, about 95% of thyroid nodules are benign.  Even better, if caught early, most thyroid cancers are 100% curable.  Chances are that my nodule is benign, and even if it’s not, chances are that I’ll be fine in the long run.

Left.

Molar pregnancies are also rare.  According to WebMD.com, only about one in 1,500 women with early pregnancy symptoms has a molar pregnancy, and out of 1,000 cases of partial molar pregnancy (the kind I had), only about 50 develop trophoblastic disease (i.e. the cancer in the uterus).  The Mayo Clinic says molar pregnancies are more likely (1) if you’re older than 35 and younger than 20, (2) if you’ve had a previous molar pregnancy, and (3) if you’re of Southeastern Asian decent.   That I – a 29-year-old white woman with no previous pregnancies – managed to end up with trophoblastic disease was astonishingly…unbelievably…extraordinarily…phenomenally…I could go on and on…shitty.

Right.

If my anxiety over my health seems irrational, it’s because it is.  I worked hard to climb out of the darkness and sludge of the molar pregnancy, but no matter how much better – no matter how “fixed” – I feel, I’ll always be easily cracked.  I’ll always know that the most unlikely result can and does happen.  Even though I know it’s very likely that my nodule is benign, I can’t help but imagine that it’s malignant.

Despite all of the things I don’t believe, I do believe this:  You get what you give. For this reason, I’m trying my best to stay positive. For all of my medical calamities, I’m still here, and I know people with far worse problems (medical and otherwise) than a pesky little thyroid nodule.  Besides that, I have great doctors, my family and friends are chomping at the bit to help in any way they can, and perhaps most importantly, I know that if I fall, I’ll be caught.  This I know for sure.

Left.

Yet, I also feel completely and utterly unlucky.  Even if the news is eventually good – that the nodule is benign – I still have to go through the “not painful but not comfortable” biopsy (the nerve conduction study I had on my leg last year comes to mind) and then wait up to five agonizing days for the results.  Here it comes.  The negativity.  The self-pity.  Why me?  Why a molar pregnancy and now this?

Right.

So, what’s a Runaway Mama to do?  Keep moving.  One step at a time.  Left and right.  Left and right.

Thankfully, I have plenty of things to distract me (i.e. my kids).  In particular, I have 20 Spider-Man goodie bags to prepare for Riley’s fourth birthday party this weekend.  This beautiful little person who puts socks on his hands and calls them mittens because he wants to go to Grandma Irene’s house where there’s snow that badly…

(Remember, we live in South Florida.)

(Remember, we live in South Florida.)

…and who put Mr. Penguin in the refrigerator the other night because penguins like to be where it’s cold…

(Yes, that's my trusty Pinot Grigio to the left.)

(Yes, that’s my trusty Pinot Grigio to the left.)

…deserves an epic celebration.

No conflict there.  My left and right side are totally in sync on this one.

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Filed under anxiety, cancer, health, molar pregnancy, thyroid