Thursday, March 3, 2011

Phase II: Round 11 "I'll take the Zero, Miss"

Phase II: Round 11  (Taxol Done-Herceptin only)  “I’ll take the Zero, Miss”

Tuesday 3/1/11. 
Today was indeed a test.   In school, I used to like tests…I was pretty good at them and it was often like a game for me.   97 average in high school, Magna Cum Something, in PT school.   Most who know me also know that I DO enjoy a challenge and often set myself up that way.   Today, however, I think maybe it’s enough that I made it to class, and stayed to listen to what had to be said.  
Monday afternoon I found out over the phone that my last Taxol treatment was likely done last week. Number 10 of the original 12 planned.  The doctor decided to discontinue based on the neurotoxicity that I was experiencing.  Stopping made me happy and scared.  I was determined to make the point that it was their decision.  I don’t want my own blood on my hands.  
I was instructed to schedule an MRI as soon as able, and then go ahead and come in to my Tuesday doctor’s appointment to hear the plan for further treatment. This plan was to be based on meetings between the Oncologist, the Radiation oncologist, the Breast Cancer Specialist, and the General surgeon.  (They left my buddy plastic surgeon, who is, I believe, on “my side”, out of the loop, which I thought was rude.)
I scheduled the MRI for Wednesday morning at 6:30 a.m. and I showed up on Tuesday as instructed (after my glorious weekly 6 mile Tuesday group run and breakfast.)

Cindy S. and Chuck....who are WAY faster than me,but still run with me :).   AND the ones who got me into YOGA.

The nurse who accesses the port came in, stabbed me as usual, took my blood, and taped on the syringe where the chemo goes.  The Nurse Practioner Sara, who I like, came in to prep me with the bad news.  They had decided that I would definitely have Radiation Treatment due to the original size of the tumor (which was between 5-7 cm) and the aggressive nature of the type of cancer.  I would have bilateral mastectomy within the next 3 weeks, then radiation daily (5 days a week) for 4-6 weeks. I would then wait 6-9 months for the surgery to heel and to see if the cancer seems gone, and THEN plan the re-construction. This all would basically mean extending the course of treatment/surgical plan by about 9 months to a year.  I was very disappointed, because I had had in my mind that we would be able to do most of the reconstruction at the time of the surgery, thereby saving myself a surgery, minimizing a delay in return to life as I’d prefer it, and protecting my vanity.

After this punch in the stomach, as I was sitting in the infusion room for over an hour, crying non-stop, waiting for my 30 minute dose of Herceptin, I began thinking horrible thoughts.  What crazy thing should I do to cause harm to myself, sabatoge my existence, and make myself hurt with physical pain.  I felt I could handle that.  This pain was not physical and it was too difficult to bear.  Everything I thought of though, would only hurt someone else.   Then, I thought of how much this has already hurt my poor husband, who is the last person that I want to hurt ANY MORE.  While I’m sitting there crying and devising schemes for increased personal physical suffering, I also begin thinking……this is a critical moment.  These are the moments that make us what we are.  O.K.  I am pathetic….  I’m sitting here crying while this cute little bald girl is across from me smiling, hooked up to that godawful shit and having a normal conversation with a nurse.  Am I?  I can decide now.  This IS the only thing that I do have control over today.  How I decide to deal with this information.   So, I decided to just let this one go.
“l’ll take the Zero, Miss”.  I’ve always had fond memories of that statement that I heard more than a few times in French class in high school. I never did take the zero in that class, but always got a kick out of it when other people did.  There’s just something so liberating about that.  I’ll take the Zero.. I choose to take the zero, and I’ll be OK.  I could yell out any number and you’d write it down….but, I’ll take the zero. I'll let it go.
Thursday 3/3/11
So now, after the MRI, another appointment/consult with the Radiation Oncologist, a phone conversation with MY PLASTICS guy J,  and days of waffling back and forth, the plan sticks.  The Bilateral Mastectomy is scheduled for Monday March 21st at 2:00 with no immediate reconstruction.  3-4 weeks of recovery, then 6.5 weeks of 5 days a week radiation.  Then, a 2-6 month “cooling off” period, per the plastic surgeon….i’ll just go ahead and call him Ned... and then the DIEP reconstruction.
One Point for “the Method”.  Zero to the home team “Control Issues.”

Did I say Liberating?


  1. Why I love this blog:
    Heavy issues-illness, struggle, life-altering decisions, and then bam! cute boys peeing in a pond.
    Keep it coming!

  2. You should have been a "shrink". As always the bravest I know.

  3. Your blog leaves me speechless and blessed to get to read it. Thank-you Emily for sharing. It is a gift to us all.