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#FUCancer

12/26/16: 4:29 PM

As I was walking into a restaurant for a holiday dinner with my family, my gynecologist called to give me the results of an endometrial biopsy that was conducted the week before. “Abnormal cells” she said. Then she went on about a few other things that I really wasn’t paying attention to, and she then said I needed an operation.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I said. You’re jumping ahead WAY too quickly. Are you telling me I have CANCER? I thought I had some abnormal cells.

You see, this was feeling like a repeat of a call I received in 1994 telling me I had breast cancer.

And, again, I did the exact same thing I did back then. I called my BFF, Noreen. She is the only person I feel absolutely safe with. Not my mom, brother, estranged husband. No one. And I was not about to go to my kids with this one. I needed more info.

So, for now I know I have endometrial cancer and that I need a hysterectomy. Other than that, it will have to wait until next Tuesday when I have my first appointment with my oncologist, Dr. Schwartz.

And before I will get to that appointment, both Noreen and I are in the middle of losing a friend to stomach cancer. Diagnosed only 5 months earlier, she is not expected to make it past this weekend. Only 51 years old and the picture of perfect health only a few short months ago, Lori will be crossing over soon leaving behind 3 daughters, her husband, her parents, and a brother.

#FUCancer

~~~~~~~~~

1/1/17: Well, since 12/26/16, I have received three phone calls from my gynecologist following up on my 1/3/17 appointment. The most recent of which was last night. She said to bring a notebook with questions already written down, then to write down the answers. Fine. I know how to do that, but her recent calls are alarming me.

Since Thursday, 12/29/16, I’ve been in NY taking care of my friend, Lori. Until that time, the prospect of her coming home from the hospital to die was slim to none. They were having a hard time controlling her pain. Finally, It looked like a break-through was happening, causing a “10” to turn into a “4”. Here’s our chance to get her home. Another snag as the local hospice refused to admit her due to the holiday weekend. The earliest they could come out was Tuesday, 1/2/17. Never heard of such a thing. Anyway, I contacted a hospice nurse friend of mine who agreed to take on the case as private pay. Noreen and I agreed to be part of her team. On Friday, we finally got her home. We were able to keep her pain under control thanks to the hospice meds that the hospital so gratiously sent home after informing us that the local hospice agency is terrible.

After making sure Lori was resting peacefully and training others on how to care for her, I went home on New Year’s Eve to be with my family. Being with Lori was a huge distraction for me from my own cancer diagnosis.

So, here I wait for two reasons: the call that will take my friend away from me and the appointment with the oncologist that will change my life.

~~~~~~~~~

1/3/17: My friend, Lori, died last night. May she Rest In Peace. And I have uterine cancer–grade 2–whatever that means.

After the last phone call from my gynecologist telling me to bring a notebook to the appointment, I’ve been terrified. Why would she call me so often if it wasn’t really bad news?

Am I going to live or die from this disease? All I can think of are my kids and how they would ever do without me. Especially my 12 year old son who has special needs. He relies on me for so, so much. Their father is not capable of providing much — not financial, emotional, or spiritual. Nothing. It’s all on me. I’m not as afraid for me as I am for my children.

Meeting Dr. Schwartz threw me completely off-guard. On first sight, he appeared charming and fatherly. I liked him immediately. Nevertheless, I was waiting for the dreaded words. After exchanging pleasantries in his office, he asked a lot of questions about my background and health. Then off to the exam room for an internal examination.

Back in his office, he explained that I have grade 2 uterine cancer, a very common form. Treatment to consist of a hysterectomy–the removal of the uterus, ovaries, Fallopian tubes, and some lymph nodes. With the assistance of a robot, they will makes 5 small incisions in my abdomen, fill it with gas, insert the tools. Then the robot, with the guided hand of Dr. S, will remove my organs down through my vagina. No more large cuts through layers of muscle anymore. One night in hospital. To be followed up by three rounds of radiation. No chemo!! Recouperation period — 2-4 weeks. Pathology report delivered 3 days after surgery to determine Stage of cancer, etc.

I had a choice of surgery dates — this coming Monday, January 9, or wait until February. Knowing that waiting is the worst part, I opted for Monday, the day after Lori’s funeral.

Tonight, I told my kids.

Tomorrow I go back to Yale for preadmission testing. Thursday I’m on an all-day field trip to the Boston Science Museum with my 12 year old son. Friday I will be at Lori’s wake. Saturday I take my kids to a Sweet 16 Birthday Party out on Long Island. And on Sunday, I say my final goodbye to my friend.

On Monday, I hope to say goodbye to cancer.

I am numb.

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