Monday, August 29, 2011

My friends are pollinating bees

No logistical news to report until after my meeting with the plastic surgeon on Thursday. Meanwhile I am experiencing a support I have never been in a position to receive before.
Friends are mobilizing to help with money and food, being with me when I am in the hospital, offers to come clean my house, help with the doggie tribe (oh, brave souls, indeed!). Friends who can listen to me in wild woman mode, & those who cannot, but offer me other gifts as I deepen my understanding of the hows & whys of my own inner processes.

In short, this Mystery is still unfolding.
Thank you all for folding me in your arms/ humming wings.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quantum molasses

The meeting with medical oncology was just fine yesterday.
I realized about half way through, that I had, unconsciously been braced for resistance from the doctor.
But, no. I explained myself, he explained things from his perspective and then said "Well, I don't think I really have anything to offer you."
The inner smile that lights a thousand lamps was mine.
And then he made an appointment to see me in four weeks, "We'll meet again after your surgery, just in case you've changed your mind."

Everything is beginning to move now with much more focus.
I have the meeting with the plastic surgeon next week; 6 days after that I go in to sign all the release & permission to treat papers...
Which tells me that it is probable that three weeks from now I will be in a new configuration of my body.

I am weary, weary.
I began to tell clients today. Everyone will know soon when I call to rearrange the famous H.C. (Holy Calendar). It will be interesting to see how everyone receives and responds to this.

I am anticipating putting myself to bed like a third grader tonight~~if I see 9 p.m. with open eyes I will be surprised.

Let sleep nourish me, and dreams inform me.
I walk into that ocean with arms opened wide.
Embracing and welcoming the Mystery, morning is just moments~ and light years~ away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Salt in my mouth and riding the green waves

Well, I have definitely been "off the surfboard" for a couple of days. Not in the present moment, worrying about (= , for me, getting angry about) what will happen, how it will work out, all the usual suspects.
Thanks to a few good friends with meaningful insights, compassion & patience with my bear-with-foot-in-bucket self, & the ability to let me rant, I am back on the board...
The ocean, even when choppy, looks soooo much better from up here!!

One friend asked if I'd seen the pathology report, and I said no. Then, later, I thought how could that be?! THAT is so unlike me!
I went back into research mode &, as I was reading & making notes, I remembered those phrases & myself asking the doctor "What does nuclear pleomorphism mean?" "And comedo necrosis? Necrosis means tissue death, and so...?" "What does the cribiform pattern indicate as opposed to another pattern in DCIS?"
Ok, now that's the me I know.

So, I watched a few videos of a full mastectomy...
I know, I know, but I've been in gross anatomy labs (human dissection) dozens of times, I have surgery books, & pathology books, & pictoral gross anatomy books, so it is all known territory for me. There's no "ick factor".
And, that helped. As I watched it step by step, realizing that will be me soon, I gently spoke to my breast with my intent: "That will be you. That's what will happen. It will be ok. Thank you for always being here, so beautiful & present for me all of these years. Thanks for letting me know before it got unmanageable. I love you."
And then I watched some more.
I watched films of the different types of reconstructions; I felt my body's responses to each, which gave me, actually, more pertinent information than just the cognitive knowledge.
Big exhale!
I am feeling much more centered again.

Tomorrow I meet with medical oncology to tell them "from my own mouth" why I am choosing the path of treatment I am.
Here's a nice tidbit to bring in with me:
DCIS with lumpectomy: survival rate of  87%
With lumpectomy & radiation: 92%
With lumpectomy, radiation & Tamoxifen: 94%
With mastectomy, no radiation, or Tamoxifen: 98-99%

It's good to me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

My mistress is the sea

Today a friend of mine spoke, on her blog, about the need for some silence for a while, and that that got me the slow, lazy way that thinking happens after some great acupuncture, which I also had today.
When she said she needed more silence, less busy-ness in her world, my mind began a series of associations like an old movie flickering on.

The scene opened in my clinic 14 years ago. 1997 was full of "the adventure of healing" I had 2 abnormal PAP smears, followed by an abnormal biopsy, followed by an in-office surgery to my cervix.
After healing, the should've-been-perfect PAP was abnormal, as was the next biopsy, followed by a big ol' in the hospital surgery.
The quarterly PAP's the next year, & the biannual ones for the next two years & every one after that have been fine.
But a ten days after the second surgery, after having flown across the country and back, and jumping back into my clinical schedule that was unmerciful (though I still couldn't feel that then) I began hemmoraging at work.
I called my doctor, who, of course, had me come right over. When he examined me he said he was at a loss to understand what he was seeing. All the hemmoraging and clotting, which had started out of the blue, was coming out of a wound the size of a pinhole, he said.
"I don't know why that would happen.", he mused.
As soon as he said it my body told me, in words in my head, why & I simply replied "I do."
There was nothing medical to do so he sent me home.

My body said "You have to stop."
I knew what it meant. Stop working every waking moment six days a week.
Stop making my life about what everybody else needed.
Stop ignoring myself.
It took years and years to turn that ship around, but I started then.

So when my friend spoke to slowing down, being more silent, and that movie appeared out of the recesses of partially learned lessons, I asked my body, "Is this more of that? More needing to be present for me? More dropping of context? More silence inside?"

Yes. It feels like a yes.

I don't think it will take as long this time to turn that ship. I used to kid with my friends that I was trying to turn the Queen Mary back then; that you could yank on that wheel a long time before any movement would be seen in its path on the sea.
I sail more a 20 foot yacht these days...
Still not a speedboat, but not a behemoth.

When I look at my compass, so far, I see the moon.
I am slowly moving my head, trying to understand what the bright reflection, the craters, and the lunar pull of all tides means. I am used to seeing  North South East West.

I hear the moon as she swishes the oceans within.
There will be a new sailing.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Random does not exist

Some vague recognition is playing like a movie heard in the next room...
Things are always arising and dissolving in the world.
There is some design to it that cannot be seen, like fractals: the order inherent in seemingly random or chaotic movement.

Someone has her soul-love leave his body
Someone restores her mother's fig tree
A drought settles in, deep and wide, over the land
Two animals are saved and have a home
A breast prepares to leave
A heart begins to receive

I can almost see the shapes in the random smoke, almost make out the voice in the background, the words it whispers, sweet and low, to each of us.
And then I blink.

Something is balancing here...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Words as disease; reassessment as cure

This is a topic, actually, that has been near & dear to my heart for over two decades: precision and truth in speech.
It started for me when I suddenly became glaringly aware of the words that were flying out of my mouth, & the mouths of those around me, that were so amazingly toxic & (the key, for me) not even vaguely true.
Like "That just kills me."~~"That purse is to die for!"~~"You're getting on my last nerve."~~And the ones that bother me the most: "War on (cancer/ terror/ poverty etc)"~~"Fighting (homelessness/ child abuse/ hunger etc)"

Now, that first group you may say (as I did, lo, those many moons ago) oh, they're just funny sayings. They're colorful & nobody takes them literally. What's wrong with that??
Well, for me, it just became about speaking truth. None of those funny/cute sayings are literally true, but they make the violence of our speech transparent to us, which can make us numb to the effects  that my, or another's, speech may engender.
If you still think I am being silly, just ask yourself honestly, does anything in you bristle, as women, to hear phrases like "little lady~bitches~she's on the rag~great melons~ho~sweetie (when used by a man who doesn't know you; especially when you are a subordinate in a business setting)"
If we're honest, one or more of those probably don't feel comfortable for a variety of reasons. But the (usually) men who are saying them might defend these as "just something I said, don't take it so seriously".
So, I began to get very conscious of what was coming out of my mouth.
Because what is coming out of my mouth, is what is going on in my head (where else would it have come from?), at least subconsciously.
And what is going on in my head is affecting my cells. Literally.
(See the book Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, a scientist who did the work proving that every thought~~in words, or just experienced as an emotional state~~changes the chemical receptors on every cell in your body.)

The second group, "War on..." & "Fighting..." are ridiculous if really looked at.
How can you have a war on a concept? Or fight a multidimensional human experience?
Who could drop a bomb on an activity (domestic abuse) or go give a black eye & bloody lip to a socioeconomic problem (hunger)?
That's just crazy speech &, again, we become deaf & blind to the violence we participate in when we speak this way.
In truth, we want to end, transform, overcome, educate about, bring relief from, heal and/or make these things obsolete. So why don't we just say that?
Just bring your awareness to your speech, listen to friends & TV, look at headlines & articles with an eye toward that inquiry.

Pardon my language, here, but I saw a piece of graffiti about 21 years ago that transformed me forever about these ideas:
Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

I still quote that graffiti to this day.

But what has that got to do with me & this particular journey I am on??
Well, with any major disease process or trauma people respond from their heart, trying to speak to what is happening. And we are influenced by the speech patterns of our culture.
So, if you have said one of these things to me, I am not offended, nor rebuffing your concern & love for me, but I would just ask you to sit in open inquiry (or prayer, or meditation; whatever is true for you) about the inner state behind these phrases.

"It is so unfair."
Fairness as regards to life is a false concept; fairness only applies to board games or business dealings

"You don't deserve this."
If you would say that an evil person does deserve a "bad" life experience, then I would simply notice that the construct is based on a punitive worldview. Personally, I think deserving & undeserving are only true in contests with stated rules & are completely false concepts as regards to life in general.

"You've been through so much already."
I know this is said from love, like "Oh! Make it stop, world!", but there's no quota on life experiences. Every single human has a bacoodle of painful experiences happen to them; it is not damaging unless it either overwhelms the capacities we have at the moment or if we resist the experience with all of our might.
Neither of these things is happening to me, so I really am ok. And I love you for loving me so much!!

"This disease is the enemy."
This is also said about Alzheimer's, an incredibly painful process for the loved ones of the person with the disease. But, again, just speaking truth, no disease is an enemy. It is a biologic process.
Healing, not adversarial fear or hatred, is what is needed.

"You can fight this and win."
Cancer is not a war. I am not interested in fighting against a misdirected physiologic process in my body. Fighting has a winner & a loser. (subnote: Dying is not "losing". As my fiance used to say, with great gentleness & humor, as he was dying of cancer, "Nobody gets out alive. It's ok.")
Fighting requires~at the bodily level~adrenalin & cortisol, two of the "fight or flight" hormones. They send out a distress signal to the nervous system, keep us out of the parasympathetic nervous system, where relaxation & (!) healing occur, and create oxidative stress (= damage to the tissues of our body).
That doesn't seem very practical self-talk if one has a disease...

So, as Forrest Gump said, "That's all I have to say about that." :-)

I love you all.
And that I, most assuredly, mean literally!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Calling James Brown

Because doctor's got a brand new bag!!

The meeting yesterday was perfect. And informative, so take note, ladies.
In brief, I am lucky enough to have the head of breast surgery as the man who will be operating on me. He has no ego, no agenda; he has been practicing medicine long enough that he has nothing to prove.
That being said, had I not been well informed, articulate & confident in my decisions, I am sure that the "algebra equation" would have ruled the day.

After he went over the specifics of my diagnosis, he began with "We will be doing an extended lumpectomy..."
No sir, & here's why I don't want that. At which point, he replied, "Yes. I can see your reasoning for that. All right, so we can cancel radiation. We'll be doing a sentinel node removal..."
No, sir.

A sentinel node removal is a standard part of surgical cancer care; they remove a lymph node nearest the surgical site, to test & make sure the cancer hasn't spread. If there are cancer cells in the node, they keep removing lymh nodes until they test cancer free.
This is a viable choice for most cancers, but it leaves the lymphatic system compromised and vulnerable to the possiblity of lymphedema.
The lymph system is the liquid cleansing system of the body, and part of the immune system; lymphedema is a backing up of the lymph fluid, usually into a limb, creating a puffy swelling which is uncomfortable, and can create further damage to the tissues if normal drainage is not restored.
One of the things I do is Lymph Drainage Therapy, so I am very familiar with what is it like living with lymphedema, and how challenging it can be.
Since I have a non-tumor based cancer, there is virtually no chance that this cancer has spread, hence, no reason to potentially damage my lymph system.
His reply was "Well, you're right. The odds are only 1 or 2% that it has spread. So no sentinel node removal.

Now, we very often put women on Tamoxifen or a similar drug..."
No, sir, we won't be needing that. Again, since this is a non-tumor based cancer (tumorous cancers feed on estrogen, hence the use of estrogen blocking drugs, such as Tamoxifen) there is no need to take a drug which has, as its main side effect, endometrial cancer in 7-10 years after use.
His relpy? You guessed it: "Yes, I see your point, so no post surgical drug therapy.
Do you want a reconstruction? (yes) Good. I will arrange for you to meet with the plastic surgeon to choose your best method of reconstruction. I will save as much skin as possible to allow for the greatest coverage."

When he called his clinic manager in to arrange for everything, and went over all the steps for her, her eyebrows went higher & higher.
He ended with "Ms. Daniels is very well informed and has thought about all of her options. This is the way we will go.", and shook my hand before leaving the room.
She told me that one of the appointments she would be setting up for me would be with medical oncology (chemo, Tamoxifen etc) because my choices were "so far from the standard care" that they would take a bunch of heat from the head of medical oncology unless they heard it from my mouth.
No problem.
But isn't that interesting? If most women had gone in, they would have come out with an appointment for an "extended lumpectomy" & a sentinel node removal, radiation afterwards, & possible Tamoxifen.
And, I am not being unkind here, but that means: a surgically altered breast in a very profound way (!!), possible damage to their lymph system, a series of radiation treatments (radiation is like microwaving; it heats from the inside out, hence the tissue damage & scarring after radiation) & then, possibly, an estrogen blocking drug for 5 years. (the standard of care with those drugs) Which, if you are still menstruating, would slam dunk you into menopause, & would create the need to monitor you for many years to see if there are any side effects.

I am telling all the details, just so you ladies can have a deeper understanding, should you ever need to have it, not to villify the standard of care.

So! Excellent outcome!! Of course, doing a mastectomy & a reconstruction on the same day = two major surgeries in a day = a longer recovery time = more time off of work...Oddly enough, I am not stressing about what that will mean monetarily.

Let grace find its way to me unobstructed.

It is 104 degrees today. The shadows of the tree branches on the driveway are like lace.
I am sleepy and peaceful and can feel the subtlest shimmer in my body, the shimmer that happens as the unknown is approaching...But here is the fascinating part: it is not the shimmer of waiting, in a movie, for the vampire to leap out, or at the top of the rollercoaster, looking straight down to where you will be plummeting shortly...
It is the shimmer of standing in the airport, waiting to catch sight of the beloved, who has been gone for so long, knowing that the sight of their face will make your heart race before you throw your arms around them.

Isn't that strange??
I am smiling. It makes no sense, but it feels good.

The Adventure continues.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Medicine as algebra

Interesting day. I met with a woman at CTRC (Cancer Therapy & Research Center) about the money dance.
A couple of hours of great conversation & enough signatures to give me flashbacks of signing a mortgage, I have a mixed green salad of state & federal dollars that will cover much of the upcoming experiences, financially, & let me pay the rest back at a reasonable rate.
That's a relief!

But the most fascinating part of the day was a phone call I got from the surgeon's team~~the surgeon that I meet with tomorrow, mind you. A very sweet young man said "We have your appointment with the radiation oncologist set for such & such day and time, will that work for you?
I let the pregnant pause hang in the air that extra telling moment, & said"No. No, that won't work. I won't need radiation, because I am not having a lumpectomy. I will be talking to him tomorrow about a mastectomy. So take that appointment off the books, thank you."
He was so sweet & sincere when he said "Well, you just call us back after you two talk & we'll make a new appointment."

*sigh* I let it go with him, but wow. That is stunning!
Here's what I see happening so far in this journey:
Abnormal mammogram: book biopsy & push lumpectomy.
Very suspicious biopsy: immediately talk  about lumpectomy. (though, as a woman, she let it go the minute I said no way)
Meeting with the "buffer doctor": very strongly advocate for lumpectomy & against mastectomy.
Before the meeting with the surgeon: call to *let me know about my appointment with the oncology radiologist* for after the lumpectomy.

Notice how I, the patient, the actual woman with cancer, the actual woman who will live the rest of my life with the bodily decisions made around this, am not even present in the equation???

This is stunning, but I don't think many, or possibly any, breast cancer patients notice this.
There are a number of reasons for this:
Most people are terrified of the idea of receiving a cancer diagnosis, & go into a frozen shock/trauma response if they get one.
I was with my fiance when he got his, and he called it "going glassed". He freaked out & froze to the extent that he asked me later, repeatedly, what had been said & discussed.
So, what happens if a woman is alone when those discussions happen, as I was?
Well, if she goes into shock/trauma, she won't remember the details (IF any were given!) &, probably will stay in that frozen state for a while, & will be *bingo!* a very compliant patient.

Also, most people only interact with doctors throughout their lives when they, or a loved one, is sick & vulnerable. So they are never fully "on their game" when communicating with doctors.
Compound that if they have subconscious programs running about deferring to doctors, "doctor knows best", "don't question the doctor" etc...

Most people have no knowledge of their bodies, of how things work in the body, and of anatomical language.So when a doctor starts explaining things to you, most people are lost by the end of the 6th sentence. Because things are critical, & moving so fast, & they think they wouldn't understand it even if they made the doctor repeat it, they just let the sea of words roll over them & nod.
(I MUST interject here: please remember that a doctor, surgeon etc IS YOUR EMPLOYEE. A highly trained employee, with exceedingly specialized knowledge, but they work for YOU!
Even if insurance is paying, they still wouldn't have a job if they did not have patients to practice on.
And *do* take note of that phrase!)

And, last, but not least, most people are absolutely infused with the beliefs about cancer (what??? this is a uniquely modern, and Western perpective, not "the truth"), about "what you should do if you have cancer" & "what the statistical rates of survival are".
I must say about this last part: a pox upon this stuff. Wait until the drought is over & burn all of this rubbish out back while you have a beer!

Regarding the other three aspects, by education, 23 years of working with chronic pain patients & acute soft tissue injury in holistic health care, & grace, I have none of this running.

I am grateful for that, but here's the thing: with the exception of Dr. Dakini, these physicians were sitting in front of me, watching me not freeze or "glass", listening to me explain my understanding, & asking good questions. They also listened to me say *what I want the outcome for my body to be*, but because it doesn't fit the algebra problem of "treating cancer" that they already have "solved" on the chalk board: they literally don't hear me!
Or see me. (Dr. Bob, who kept condescendingly nodding when I was calmly assuring him that I would not be freaking out between appointments)

If you cannot be superimposed on their chalk board equations of whatever you are there for, they will probably keep pointing to how the equations "always" give the answer they are espousing.

Screw the eraser, my loves! Get a power washer & clean that board!!
Make the physician talk to YOU, listen to YOU & figure out how their training can best serve your needs, not the needs of some bunch of statistics & preconceptions!!
And there is almost always more than one person who can assist you with their medical knowledge; do not (I repeat do not!) be afraid to ask for another doctor. He or she will continue practicing medicine for their whole career, but this is the ONLY opportunity you have to participate in this particular healing journey!
Yep. It *is* all about you! ';-)

So. Tomorrow the surgeon.
I have decided to go in with an attitude free of preconceptions (of him) & see if I can support him in doing the same.

Wiggle your fingers in my general direction in a magical way.
This will be interesting.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beauty, opportunity and recognition

Sunday is a day of rest, they say. After staying up til the squeaky wee hours yesterday in fun & nourishing ways, I spent the day very slow & sleepy.
A dear friend of mine & a very gifted artist came over today to do preliminary sketches for a stylized portrait of me. I asked if she would, so that I may have my breast (s?) memorialized in the most beautiful way I can conceive of.

I say it the questioning plural as today I talked to my next door neighbor who had a DCIS diagnosis & treatment six months ago. I will have more information to gently cover my questions when I see the surgeon on Wednsday.
He is my snow globe: turn me upside down and let your answers cover every surface, sir.
After my conversation with her a whole new realm of possibilities (read "unknowns") that I had not considered have been presented.

And, less than the actual procedures, it is the time off work that makes me go wide-eyed.
More than wide eyed. I would say "frozen", but it is not exactly that. More like being on my way out of the tractor beam as the unknown crew member on the Starship Enterprise gently depresses the levers. I am glittery and diffuse; the shape of me still visible but being disassembled to be reassembled elsewhere.

And isn't that the perfect metaphor for these life transitions?
I am becoming less that form that I have been to be able to land on a new planet of experience.
My reference points are changing. I will not know who I am until I am in the new place.
Just realizing this helps.

Touching my transponder, I am signing off.
This Lt. Uhura. I have arrived safely back in the present moment.
Over and out.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Riding with the Beloved

A busy day today, going from place to place, yet peaceful & happy all day long.
In the mid morning I was at a Quilt Guild meeting, at home amidst the creative energy of my tribe, listening to the presenter & revelling in the quilts being shown.
Gradually, I became aware of my left arm resting against my left breast. The casual, intimate contact that both parties feel when you drape your hand over the knee of your beloved on a long drive.
Comforting and nurturing, presaged by months, years, or decades of every kind of knowing of each other there can be. So sweet.
Usually virtually unnoticed.

All day long I would remember that my beloved was here & soon to be deployed, if you will...And I would find a way to cross my legs and arms in conversation, touching the side of my breast, or sweeping across its expanse as I made a point.

I love you, love you, love you, angel.

This is all grace. Every bit of this.

I am going to bed now...Teddy bear & left arm & kitty who sleeps on my left side...
An abundance of sensation that nourishes.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hug me now, baby!

Just a brief note. No real news, I am still felling 98% clear.
I had a few moments where I slipped into the unknown future (of the running about in circles in my head variety), wondering what it will feel like to have half the weight gone from my chest...
Will it feel weird? Lopsided?
Will I have the huevos to go around with no bra, looking all lopsided?
Blah blah blah.
Poor little making-things-up mind, please be sweetly silent now...Thank you, darling.

In *this* moment I am evenly weighted, can go braless if I want & the only thing anyone will think is that I am an aging hippie chick.
So, in this moment~~the very moment I am in~~there is no problem.

This morning, someone posted on their FaceBook wall a line from Byron Katie:
Everything happens for you, not to you.

Thanks. I needed that.

My niece came over today, & as she left we hugged. But I called her back into another hug, because after the surgery, I imagine I'll hug avoiding my healing left side for a while.
And I reminded her to feel this evenness of breast presence during a hug. That will be gone soon, too.
So enjoy it while you can!!

We both laughed out loud.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The old appointment bait and switch

I am, for the most part, over my irritation...I was led to believe that my appointment today was with the surgeon, but when I got there it was with yet another radiologist~a Bob Hoskins look-alike~~a very nice man whose job was to say to me "yes. You have cancer. Now, before I set the appointment up with the surgeon, do you have any questions?"
I did, I must admit, let my impatience & irritation show.
He was very kind, & suggested that I "consider" a he held up a size with his hand, of a large roma tomato or a medium lemon. When I remarked that I would not have anything like a normal breast shape after that, he said no...but I would have my breast.
Goodness. We are fond of that idea as a society, aren't we?

I realized, after I got home, what was really going on, I think.
Our culture has so successfully brainwashed people to react to the word "cancer" like the townspeople react to zombies, that most people go through layers & layers of high reactivity.
I believe that Dr. Bob's role was to serve as a buffer for that, so that if a patient were going to wail, or yell, shiver uncontrollably, or mutter incoherently, Dr. Bob could, hopefully, let them discharge some of that so the patient could actually be as present as possible when meeting with the surgeon.
In the scheme of (normal) things, I guess it is a functional enough idea.
He must have said 5 times "Now, I know it will be impossible, but try not to worry & stress too much between now and then." And 5 times he smiled indulgently when I assured him that I wouldn't.

I did decide that perhaps I "should" consider a lumpectomy, if it were medically possible...So I researched images.
I have friends & clients that have had mastectomies, so the stark blankness of the chest on one side, well, I am used to that. It is a bit of a surprise when you first see it, but at the end of the day, it is nothing alarming.
But the images of lumpectomies...Especially with women my size, with lumpectomies in the lower outer quandrants, as I would have...No.
Every woman should make the choice that will give her the greatest opportunity of survival and self esteem; I am not standing in judgment of any woman's choice, let me be clear, but I know that I would rather see a blank skin slate in the mornings...
That's just me.

So, next Wednesday I meet with my surgeon.
What an amazing world this is.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In Which a Chapter Begins

What an interesting way to enter the world of blogging...Less than 2 weeks ago at a "routine" mammogram, I stepped into an alternate version of that Friday. The beauty of spacetime is that, of course, every alternate version just seems like the day you're having~~it is all so seamless. I adore that about this place!

I've spent 23 years in holistic healthcare, so I did what I always do, which is to step, uninvited, to view the image on the computer screen. I want to see, after all, what everyone else will be seeing.
It is a habit that has served me well, & is why my family appreciates me being the one along at the doctor or hospital.
Immediately, I saw three bright white spots that I had never seen before on a mammogram. My inner eyebrow went up, but I didn't have an interpretation at the moment.

When the tech came back into the room and said "The doctors want just a few more images.", my inner eyebrow stayed up & my inner head began nodding slowly...Mmmm hmmm.
Nine images later, after seeking again & again to get a very specific view, she finally went away to show to radiologists who, like the Great and Powerful Oz, were behind a curtain somewhere.

A very kind doctor (who would never demand a witch's broom handle of anyone, I am sure) came back to tell me that there were "some areas of great concern."
Calcifications. Which could be "just" calcifications, but were very likely a type of cancer called DCIS.
Ductal carcinoma in situ.
As it happens, years ago, I had had a long conversation at a picnic with a radiation oncologist about DCIS. (What? That's not what *you* talk about over hot dogs??? Oh.)
I had, at the time, switched from having mammograms, to having a thermographic imaging technique called DITI. DITI shows the heat patterns of your breasts, & so can show a tumor far before you, and often before a mammogram, can pick it up.
He said yes, that's fine for tumor-based cancers, but DCIS is a pattern of calcifications, so there is no heat pattern to pick up. He said it is not just that a woman has calcifications in her breast tissue, but that DCIS has a very specific pattern.
When that pattern is seen it is very important to take action quickly. As long as the tissue can be removed while the calcium deposits are still in the milk ducts, it is completely containable.
But if it goes outside the ducts it spreads very rapidly & is an aggressive form of cancer.

I verified this with my very gentle radiologist from Oz.
My understanding was correct and he said I needed to have a biopsy with 7-10 days.
The appointment was made...

Ten days later Dr. Gentle Oz was assisting a female radiologist with my procedure.
The female radiologist was a beautiful and warm, business-like yet with a full heart.
I cannot explain why, but she seemed to have dakini-like energy to me...
Dr. Dakini answered all of my questions &, when I pointed to the bright comets flying through my left breast, saying "So, that's what you're looking for?" She said, "That's the beginning of it..."
She showed me, further back in my breast, a constellation of calcium deposits.
Like Moses looking up into the heavans...

I asked to see the biopsy instrument.
Picture the hollow part of a Bic pen with two exceedingly sharp end-points.
I had been imaging more a cocktail straw diameter. (*the clearing of an inner throat*)
I had heard, from clients who had had biopsies, all about the table onto which I climbed, positioning my left breast to hang through the hole, in between two plates which were then brought together~~
an hour-long mammogram so that Dr. Dakini could see precisely where to take the samples from.

Once I finally got my neck comfortable, I went into a delta-brainwave pattern semi-sleep for the whole experience.
She was an artist. I barely felt the lidocaine injection which acted as a local anesthesia while the four samples were taken during an hour that drifted by like a slow-moving stream.
As I heard them wrapping it up, I rose to waking state & asked to see the biopsy samples, which looked like just what they were: four squiggles of slightly bloody fatty tissue.
"Hmmm!" I said out loud with an upward inflection. Interesting.

Afterwards, she said that they had gotten perfect samples to send to pathology & that, before I left, she was scheduling my appointment with the breast surgeon.
Breast surgeon.
There was an answer to any unasked questions.
She said that the deposits were extensive, 5-6 centimeters, which is 2 1/2 inches.
Maybe three, she said, tipping her head sideways in acknowledgment of all that meant.
She said she was sending me to him for removal of the tissue.
A lumpectomy? A three inch lumpectomy??
I am large breasted, but three inches, even out of my breast, would not leave anything really "breast shaped" for me to live with...
And besides, I have never been a fan of lumpectomies.
You have to have radiation after the surgery, and I have seen women have it come back 5 years later, like a campfire that you think has been completely doused, but then arcs a flame that spreads for miles...


Dr. Dakini said gently that most women chose that because the thought of losing their breast, if they didn't have to, was just too much...
I am not one of that feminine tribe.

So, my meeting with the breast surgeon will happen before the end of this week.
I am not afraid of cancer, nor of a mastectomy, and I have begun the pre-grieving for my very-probably-soon-to-be-gone left breast.
This breast that fed my son, that wears gold & blue rings~~so beautiful. I will hate to see them go...
The breast that holds the memorial tattoo for my fiancee, who died of esophogeal cancer in 2007...

If this is my path (& it most certainly seems that it is) then I will walk it with as much awareness as I can.
Every day is a fast-motion movie of a flower unfolding.
It happens only once, and in a field of flowers called an entire life, we often stop watching them bloom and bow their heads toward earth as the span is complete.
There are so many flowers. Another will always bloom, we think, no need to watch them all.
But we should.
Who knows when that strong wind will blow, and a choreography of roots will fly by our eyes.
That could be that...

These will be the chronicles, not just of this journey with cancer, but with daily presence.
I am smiling.
I am glad that you are here.