To me "The C-word" has always been a pseudonym for that disgusting word that means female genitalia.
Ever since I was called in for re-examination in the mammogram clinic in August, people have been great - praying for me and giving me encouragement and quoting encouraging statistics, and I appreciate all of that, but the entire time I knew that I knew that I knew that I was going to be in the 1-in-8 women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
So in the meantime I accepted that and delved into research. Once again I thank God for Google and the amazing mind-boggling internet. I checked out treatment options, read other women's blogs, and even scoped out wigs. (I am not a hat and scarf type of girl) I wondered if I'd be able to get fake eyebrows. I think that's what I notice most about people going through chemo - they have no eyebrows. (And honest Jesse, I don't have an eyebrow fetish.)
People often asked me what is the percentage of breast lumps that are benign? I know I read that more than once, but I never paid much attention cuz I just knew benign was not something that I was dealing with. (For those who care, it's about 80% - good news for most women)
When I checked-in with reception to receive my results from the surgeon today, there was a stack of newspaper style newsletters on the desk called Abreast in the West. I tucked one into my purse. The lead article was entitled The Other C-Word. I turned to Alb and said, "That's the title I've had in my head for my blog announcing the fact that I have cancer." My second choice was I Don't Even Like Pink!
The doctor entered the room, shuffled my file a bit and said, "I have good news!" I was actually surprised and in disbelief because I was expecting the C-word diagnosis. But then he went on, "Well, actually I have not-so-good news as well. You do have cancer. But it's a best case scenario. Well, as best case as having breast cancer can be."
He went on to tell me that he will need to do further surgery sometime in the next couple of weeks. He will adjust his schedule and bump someone for me. (Sorry, bumped person. I wish a special blessing from God upon you.) The doctor is confident that another surgery is all the treatment I am going to need. He doesn't anticipate the need for chemo or radiation or a mastectomy. Which will mean no wig, no pasted on eyebrows and no play dough boob to fill my bra. Hallelujah.
So while the diagnosis of cancer is a major event in one's life, to me at this point, the diagnosis I received actually feels like a relief. That's the explanation I had for the doctor when he asked why I appeared so calm.
He turned to Alb and asked how he was feeling and if he had any questions. Alb explained that he couldn't help but feel that God was watching over us - with the timing of me going for my first ever mammogram and everything. The doc said, "That's exactly it." And explained that he couldn't be happier with the prognosis. Even though the cancer is so small it could not be felt, the mammogram picked it up. Had I waited until a lump was felt, who knows how many months or years it would have had to grow and spread before it was noticed. He said I was a poster child for the reason they do screening mammograms - it's because they work for early detection. (He actually said I was a "classic case" but the term "poster child" sounds more prestigious to me.)
As I originally intended, I have titled this blog entry The C-Word. However, in thinking about using a pseudonym for the word cancer, it somehow gives it a looming scary unspeakable presence that I refuse to allow it to have.
So from here on, cancer will be cancer and I shall stare it in the face and not tip toe around it, nor back down.