You may be singing Carly Simon right now…I am sure it will be stuck in your head all day…but the first thing I thought about when writing this tonight was Rocky Horror Picture Show. Remember this moment?

Hasn’t Susan Sarandon held up well? Ok, this isn’t about aging actresses, although I might prefer that topic. This past 4 weeks of crazy has lead to, finally, a defined plan and schedule. And while I can pencil in the dates of my treatments, I still am losing sleep over the first treatment scheduled March 11. I toss and turn in anticipation of what, what?

My Doc has told us the treatments last 4-6 hours, one time every 21 days for 6-8 cycles. Got it. And she says the side effects should be minimal, and manageable. She sent me home with prescriptions for Prilosec, and anti nausea meds, and Bactrim to ward off infections….She predicts a day of fatigue around day 4-7, but some get it in 24 hours. Could get”backed up”. Could get hungry from Prednisone. Could have a little tummy upset that is calmed by crackers and carbs. I will have hair loss. I asked my Doc if I should expect to gain weight since I will be taking Prednisone – she said maybe, or not. She said some people soothe an upset tummy with crackers and bagels, and that could cause weight gain. Then she said, and I quote, “The last thing you want is to be bald AND gain 15 lbs. ” And you thought physicians don’t have a sense of humor.

What else should I anticipate?

Well, I predict standing in front of the mirror waiting for something to happen. Is that twinge a side effect of just a product of recently having surgery and turning 53? I will have 3 weeks between cycles to contemplate what is happening at my cellular level. What will that feel like? People have put the image of Pac Man in my head – a hungry cell destroying icon that chews up fast growing cells, identified by its DNA. Too bad the meds can’t tell the cancer from say, your hair follicles. Or mouth cells.

I do know what I can anticipate is the ongoing outpouring of love and support from my family and sweet friends and caring coworkers. I must admit that I haven’t had to acknowledge how big that circle of support really is in a loooong time. Like a safety net that you don’t always need to use, but so grateful that it is there.

And now a nod to Carly Simon…

“Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting”……


Rewind, please

So you might be wondering how I got here? Well, so am I.This is all about body parts so if that grosses you out, stop reading now.

It is a long and sordid tale, starting with a collapsed lung that needed to be permanently repaired back in 2001. The CT that was done prior to surgery showed a large cyst on my pancreas. Huh? Pancreatic cancer = bad, and you can’t reach the thing to biopsy it, so, I signed up to have that cyst removed. And out came my spleen as well.

Basically a large midline incision is not a good thing, given that between your “six-pack” ab muscles is a fascia like tissue that doesn’t hold up well once cut. So, the first of several hernias appeared and I had a small OP surgery to fix that. Cool, done, right? Wrong.

Next, in 2005, I learn I have fibroids, and my uterus has to go. I got to vote on whether to keep my cervix and one ovary (I voted yes – didn’t want my “kishkes” to fall out)…but alas, I had another midline (ventral) hernia to fix. What’s a girl to do? So we enlisted a second surgeon, and the docs tag-teamed to remove my lady parts and then put in some mesh and sew me up tight. This was in 2005. My body didn’t like this surgery and after 2 weeks in the hospital, I was able to go home.

That brings me to the end of 2013. A bout of nausea brought me to my doctor, we tried some conventional “you are over 50 so take this med” treatments without much relief. A requested ultrasound to “just see” if this was yet another midline hernia showed a smallish hole. A visit to the surgeon didn’t require more than a poke with an index finger into my navel to reveal a chasm of another big hernia. Rats. A follow up CT scan was scheduled so that we could get the entire picture. Yep, big hole. So I scheduled surgery, with 2 surgeons (one to make sure my intestines weren’t all in a bunch, the other to close me up tight), and we headed to the hospital on Feb 6th. I thought this would be the end of this adventure, but…not so much.

It is amazing that you can live without so many body parts! I have given up my spleen, one third of my pancreas, a few inches of my small intestine, an ovary, a uterus…and a touch of lung tissue. I have asked the surgeons if they can just take whatever else I may not need – gall bladder, appendix, what else? Or put in a zipper. That might be better.

This all sounds nutty in its’ retelling. I keep thinking I sound like a show on The Discovery Channel – “The Woman who was addicted to Surgery!”…but really, really – I would never, ever sign up for surgery on purpose. My eyelids would have to be drooping to my nose, my chin waddling in the breeze, or find myself with my boobs getting stuck in my pants zipper before I’d sign up for elective surgery. Just sayin’.

“These are not the chicken feet I was expecting.”

Ah, kids. Our daughter, at age 9 or 10, waited patiently during an outing to Chinatown while we enjoyed dim sum, passing on lots of tasty morsels because she was waiting to try the chicken feet. When they finally arrived on the table – she took one look and said “those aren’t the chicken feet I was expecting”. And of course, they remained untouched.

Fast forward 10+ years. Now it’s me, getting my mind wrapped around yet another surgery for yet another hernia, and gearing up for a 6 week recovery. Imagine my surprise when the surgeon told me he found a “cyst” in my small intestine. He removed it, sewed me up, and we waited, impatiently I might add, for the pathology results. Dr. M delivered the news 7 days later – Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. Cancer of the lymph system. Wait, I have what?

Those weren’t the chicken feet I was expecting.