That is me. Megan-with-my-real hair-back. I was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer in 2010, and this is my story as it took place in real time. The good news is, I am cancer free, full of life. Sometimes I forget that I even had cancer at all. I hope with all my heart that my journey will help others who are going down this crazy jungle, this dimly-lit path. Please do not hesitate to post questions if you have any. I will answer them if I can.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Stupid Chemo or Chemo Stupid
Today I had my well-woman check up at my primary physician's office. I mean, it's standard practice; I have had one every single year for the last 22 years. I'm not quite sure why I'm here today; at least that's what I told the nurse when she asked, what are we checking today, Ms. Megan? I mean, I have no female parts anymore that need checking on. So, yeah, why am I here?
Well, I told the nurse, I have a couple of suspicious little brown spots on my arm as well as on my back that I'd like the doc to take a look at. And ever since I had pink eye in February, my right eyelid occasionally sticks to my eyeball, especially when I first open my eyes in the morning. And I'd like to ask her a few questions about my memory. You know, stuff like that. But as for pap smears and breast exams, I'm not sure if there is anything left to check on.
I was instructed to put on that all too familiar open-in-the-front gown. At least this one was made of soft cloth rather than paper. That gown was just determined not to fit quite right -- I don't have breasts to give it form anymore. It gaped open here and there, no matter how cleverly I tried to tie those ribbon closures. One sidelong glance at the small stainless steel table over one side, covered with a white cloth, and I knew exactly what lay beneath it; sterilized and painfully ready for the next poor "well-woman" who still had all her female parts. I am sooo thankful that my primary doctor is a woman -- a woman who has known cancer in her lifetime. She totally understands what I've been through.
My cousin Vickye and her husband Harry sent me this funny little mug earlier this year. I still love what the mug stands for. I openly laugh at its slogan, especially now that I'm totally done with chemo. That said, I am still having problems with "remembering," to the point that I asked Dwain to watch me for signs of dementia. I explained this to the doctor. You know what she did? She laughed. She belly laughed. She sputtered when she tried to talk. When she regained her composure she said, there is nothing wrong with you. I'm still having problems with forgetfulness, even today. She said that she used to be the most organized woman in the world. Today, she, like me, prepares and carries lists with her everywhere. She said, whenever I forget stuff, I call it chemo-stupid or stupid-chemo, depending on the circumstance. Either way, just (take a look at the mug up above) blame it on the chemo.
And now I know what a liver spot is; those suspicious brown spots on my arm and on my lower back. Exposure to the sun popping up on my skin. Believe me, this doctor would know exactly the difference between a liver spot and a skin cancer because skin cancer is the type of cancer she had a couple of years ago. And it was bad! She's been through the worst chemotherapy a person could go through. Believe me, she checked my skin all over for any sign of it. But no. I'm good.
She asked me when I was going back to see my breast surgeon. Then informed me that every year I would have to have some sort of x-ray or imaging exam to check "the area" for signs of occurrence, also to make sure the cancer had not spread to my lungs or other organs.
She then asked if I was considering reconstruction. That would be a big fat NO. I'm sick to death of surgery and drain tubes. I do not want any more surgery that involves drain tubes or pain after the fact. I'm good. She told me that if she had to have a mastectomy, she would just wear Band-aids and be happy. I told her that there was a wonderful prosthetic place here in town. They fit me with several lovely bras and two prosthetic boobs that were just perfect. And by the way, did you know that Land's End sold the most darling mastectomy swimwear; you can fill the little bra pockets with swim prosthetics OR you can use a tip that I found on someone else's blog: fill the bra pockets with those little round shower sponges you find everywhere. They do the job, they are light as air, and dry quickly. I've already got mine.
Speaking of prosthetic wear, Dwain found a web site that had some [boobs] that stick on. STICK ON! They are on the way to our post office right now. And you would not believe where he found them The Breast Form Store. I'm not entirely positive, but I think -- I think -- it may actually also be a cross-dressing site. Hilarious! But it had what we were looking for at an affordable price. The thing I find appealing about stick-on boobs is, there will not be a scar running over the top of them, which is something you can not get away from if you have breast reconstructive surgery. No matter what you do, you're still going to have that scar running across your boobs. So, I'll just keep my flat chest with the scar to remind me of what I've been through. Then I can pick my chest size randomly
Anyway, the main reason I wanted the stick ons was so that I could wear some of my sundresses and summer tops. Before I would have worn a strapless bra to give the garment shape. So far I have not found a strapless bra made for prosthetic boobs
This is a picture of me (wearing my wig) holding a portrait of me taken when I was 10 years old.
The last thing my doctor wanted was to see what was growing underneath my wig. When I jerked it off, she rejoiced with me as only another former chemo patient can rejoice, by giving me a gleeful hug.
You know, I was wondering, faulty thinking notwithstanding, if I had enough wigs in different colors and lengths, and enough [fake] stick on boobs in different shapes and sizes, do you suppose I could be a different woman any time I felt like it, even if I don't have any more [real] female parts?